Hillwalking in winter can be incredibly rewarding, but also challenging and technical. Jen and Sim Benson select 10 of the more specialised items to pack for the most extreme conditions.
Primus Trailbreak Ex 0.75L flask
£39 primus.eu (opens in new window)
Designed for expedition use, it keeps drinks hot (or cold) for up to 20 hours. The flask is made from double-walled food-grade stainless steel, and the large opening allows for easy filling and cleaning. The silicon sleeve protects skin in freezing conditions, and the ClickClose stopper enables accurate pouring.
Petzl BINDI headtorch
£38 petzl.com (opens in new window)
Weighing just 35g and designed for active use, the headtorch is held firmly in place with an easily adjusted, elasticated headband. The main beam lasts two hours at max power 200 lumens, or up to 50 hours on its energy-saving six-lumen mode. It’s USB-rechargeable and has an emergency location strobe that lasts 200 hours.
Lifesystems bivvy bag
£13.99 lifesystems.co.uk (opens in new window)
With a tiny pack size and weighing in at just 110g, this reusable emergency bivvy bag is worth packing for any walk to exposed, remote or weather-affected places. Offering sleeping bag-style full-body coverage, the metallised plastic fabric is waterproof and reflects about 90% of radiated body heat. Ideal for walkers, runners, mountain bikers and climbers, it’s an incredibly effective way to prevent hypothermia in an unexpected or emergency situation.
Black Diamond Transfer LT snow shovel
£80 blackdiamondequipment.com (opens in new window)
Designed for avalanche response, this lightweight, packable snow shovel is a great choice for general or emergency use when walking in deep snow or avalanche-prone areas. Made from a two-piece telescopic aluminium shaft with a thin yet strong riveted blade and a large surface area for effective snow removal, it weighs just 405g and packs down small.
Kahtoola KTS crampons
£150 kahtoola.com (opens in new window)
The Kahtoola Traction System (KTS) 10-point crampon is a versatile addition to boots and shoes for safer walking, running and non-technical mountaineering in snowy conditions. With a lightweight and flexible metal base, the adjustable strap system is designed to fit onto most technical footwear quickly and easily.
Grivel G Zero ice axe
£65.95 grivel.com (opens in new window)
Designed for classical alpinism, glacier walking and easier climbing, this lightweight axe is an excellent companion as a walking aid or for fall protection. The shaft is aluminium, while the blade and adze are steel. The adjustable leash has a protective rubber tip. Available in three lengths and four cool colours.
£60 kahtoola.com (opens in new window)
With 12x1cm stainless steel spikes and welded chains, Kahtoola’s MICROspikes add traction to almost any footwear. Best suited to icy conditions and compacted snow, they’re comfortable
even when moving fast for many hours. Lightweight and packable, they’re ideal for winter walks in variable conditions.
Julbo Plasma goggles
£38.50 julbo.com (opens in new window)
Even in Britain, upland weather conditions can cause discomfort and damage to eyes. Ski-style goggles offer protection from weather, dust and debris. These men’s goggles feature a double-lens demister system, and this version has clear (category 0) lenses, which don’t filter UV but do offer good visibility and protection in poor light and conditions. Versions with category 1 or 2 lenses are also available for brighter conditions.
Lifesystems safety whistle
£3.99 lifesystems.co.uk (opens in new window)
The whistle has a dual-tone blast that reaches an ear-splitting 116dB. It’s cheap, water- and weather- proof and floats if dropped in water. It’s on the Duke of Edinburgh charity’s kit list, and potentially lifesaving.
Terra Nova Bothy 4 emergency shelter
£66 terra-nova.co.uk (opens in new window)
An emergency bothy is well worth considering for group walks in cold, exposed, remote or weather-affected places. This version deploys quickly, without the need for pegs or poles, creating a weatherproof shelter that warms up through shared body heat. The Bothy 4 fits four adults, with models available for groups of between two and 20.