Wilderness retreat kit list

Below is a quick basic list of kit- but just a few things to mention first-

• Do not run out to buy new kit- we suggest first trying to borrow, next asking us, then buying as a last resort.

• Anything you take will need to be passed on and off a boat- the bag will need to be reasonably weather proof and tough, and easy to handle.

• Anything you take you will need to carry- not far (possibly half a mile to a mile), but it will need to be portable. Try to use ONE bag- but if you need a piece of hand luggage too then so be it.

• You do not need expensive, ultalight, designer, Everest-ready kit. Comfort depends on a basic level of functionality, but beyond that, do not get sucked into the commercial nonsense. People have been going to wild places thousands of years before Berghaus and Rohan were ever thought of.

• This is a wilderness retreat- the idea is to get away from our dependence, and encounter our own vulnerability- so the less that we carry with us into the wilderness the better.

• Do you need an mp3 player? A mobile telephone? (We will have one for emergencies.) Is it unimaginable to be without the electronic noise for three days?

• Rather than taking lots of things ‘just in case’, take instead only that which is essential. Rather than take lots of spare clothes, aim on keeping dry, with one change to use in an emergency.

• Having said all that we will be spending long days and nights in a place where the only shelter we have is what we take with us or make out of what we find. There may be ticks and other biting insects, it could be cold in the evenings when we are less active, and all kinds of weather are likely. We need to be prepared.

• And perhaps one of the most important ways to prepare is mentally. There will be emotional highs and lows. Expect to be uncomfortable and cold, but also expect there to be moments of joy and transcendence.

• Finally- this retreat is an exercise in deliberate temporary community. It is a shared experience- not merely in parallel with one another, but on a deeper level. Some of this might mean sharing food, kit and comfort. This is up to you to work out as we go along…

• It is up to you if you want to share a tent, or a stove. I need my own space to sleep in, but it can be a lot warmer to share! We will each take our own food- as it is hard to plan large scale meals on backpacking stoves. But it is still possible to be generous, and to share.

Clothing

• Strong WATERPROOF hiking boots. Spare socks. Wellies are a bad idea.
• Full set of waterproofs- ones that can keep heavy rain out for a sustained period of time. You will need both jacket and trousers
• Warm mid layer for the evening- fleece, hat, gloves
• A change of base layer clothes (or two if you really must!)
• Gaiters around your boots are useful- rough country means no paths, wet boggy ground

Personal hygiene

There is no easy way to say this- there are no water closets. You will need a toilet kit- a bag containing-
• Small trowel (cheap garden one is fine)
• Toilet roll and baby wipes (biodegradable ones)
• Hand sanitising gel

We are all likely to be a bit smelly- but I am simply not that happy if I get too stinky, so I always take
• Some good deodorant
• Soap
• Half a small hand towel
• Toothbrush etc

Camping

• Small, low tent, capable of standing up to some wind. If you are unsure what this means, ask
• Sleep mat/backpacking air bed/self inflating mat
• Sleeping bag
• Torch/head torch

Cooking

Plan your meals- assume three meals a day so this amounts to
• Two breakfasts
• Three lunches
• Two dinners

• Also- bring some treats, so you can share them with others

You will need to choose food that can be packed small and light. Things always taste different cooked in wild places over a stove. Be as creative as you like-

But remember that you will only have

• A pan
• A dish,
• A stove- small gas stove
• Matches
• Knife/fork/spoon

Water is really important in wild places. You can not carry all that you need- so you will need to boil or use water purification tablets. So you will need
• A 1.5 litre water container- a plastic drinks bottle is fine
• Purification tablets- any good outdoor shop will have them for a couple of quid.

Stuff for the Soul and the Spirit

We can not live on bread and in Gore-tex alone- we also need… well this is up to you. What do you need to sustain your soul as you complete this pilgrimage?
• Reading- Bible, poetry
• Writing/drawing

Just keep it small, light, and make sure that it does not distract from the simpler purpose.

One thing that is worth thinking about is whether you might take a camera. I tend to take mine, but this too can become a way that we are not fully present- but real experience is abstracted. It is up to you!

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