Planning to walk the GR11 in Autumn came with a number of uncertainties regarding kit. The online consensus seemed to be that October would be too late to thruhike the trail. This gave me the jitters a little, but we are both experienced mountain walkers and as long as we prepared properly the weather shouldn't prevent us from completing the trail but the short days could limit our milage.
I initially hoped to fit all of my gear into a 50ltr backpack, but I quickly realised that was absolutely not going to happen. So, I pulled out my 70ltr Montane Grand Tour pack and got stuck in.
Below is a list of everything we took.
My personal kit:
70ltr Montane Grand Tour rucksack
RAB Neutrino (Women's) 400 Sleeping bag
RAB silk liner
Multimat superlite 25S.
2 x pairs of running leggings
1 x merino thermal leggings
1 x trekking trousers
2 x merino t-shirts
1 x long-sleeved merino base layer
1 x warm mid-layer
1 x softshell jacket
1 x down jacket
1 x waterproof jacket
1 x waterproof trousers
2 x hats. (1 x woollen, 1 x cap that I wore every single day!)
1 x balaclava
4 x gloves (merino liners, mid-weight gloves, wool mitts, waterproof overmitts)
3 x underwear
5 x socks (3x trekking and 2x running for my trainers)
1 x axe
1 x crampons
1 x pair of walking poles.
1 x Survival bag
1 x Camelbak hydration pack
1 x Scarpa Rebel Lite. (Although I could have managed with my trainers these were great on the boulderfields and essential if I needed my crampons.)
1 x Salomon Speedcross 3. (I wore these most days, probably my favourite inclusion!)
Camera Kit and Electronics:
35mm Weather-sealed Prime lens
3 SD cards
GoPro (with 3 batteries)
1 x solar charger
1 x external charger
2 x phones
1 x Suunto Ambit 3
Terra Nova Voyager tent
One cooking pot that we also ate out of
Food. We usually carried enough for between 3-5 days.
Water. This varied between 1 - 3 Ltrs each.
Bella's Kit (More on Bella in future posts):
Outward Hound rucksack
Between 6-12 days of food
Old foam roll mat (cut to size)
Muzzle (In case of injury)
4 x Boots
2 x leads (one extendable one small spare)
I am honestly surprised to say that there wasn't very much kit we didn't use. In Basque country I started to question the inclusion of my down jacket, my extra mid-layer and my mountain mitts but once we reached the central Pyrenees I was reminded of why they were there. It became usual to wake up with a frozen tent and I don't think I would have managed without these extra layers.
As we walked we considered leaving kit behind, posting stuff forwards, posting stuff home, leaving kit stashed to collect later, but in the end we realised we were using it all except a few emergency additions. Even our survival bags came in useful when the only camping spot was covered with grass like needles and we were worried it would poke through our groundsheet.
There were a number of items that we used but could have managed without such as thermal leggings and the spare trekking trousers but for the odd bit of comfort and particularly cold nights they were welcome additions. The same goes for waterproof trousers. I only used them once, and it rained a lot in the first week. The reason I only used them once is because the running leggings were so good at doing their job I never felt wet or cold enough to put them on.
In the end, the only items we didn't use were our crampons, ice axes and balaclavas. We did have a few days of snow and ice where if we had been slightly earlier they would have been useful, but not essential. Despite this, I think it was the right decision to take them, as we could have found ourselves in some tricky situations if we did get stuck in bad weather in the higher mountains. As for the balaclava, I would have been very grateful for it at night in some of our camping spots but I simply forgot it was there!