My gear list is perfect … for coming to Scotland in March or April. So when I heard that the start of the TGO Challenge had been postponed till June 18, this kind of threw me off guard. Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. Because June means heat, and worse, The Scottish Midge. The last year I suffered the midge was 1995. My log states “160 bites. On each lower leg”. This is why my walks in the following 25 years were firmly outside the midge season.
Some data for the unbelievers: the midge has a wing span of 1.4mm, and there’s 8,000 midges in a gram. Population size is 180 thousand trillion midges in peak season (180,000,000,000,000,000). This makes for 22.5 million ton of midge in the sky. Staggering. Fortunately they come one gram at a time (see photo below). There could be 37 different species in that one gram, but Culicoides Impunctatus accounts for most of the bites. (source: https://www.highlandtitles.com/blog/midges/)
To counter the plague, I bought a can of Smidge, and a sun hat with the accompanying midge-proof headnet. And I scrapped the plan to leave the inner tent at home.
My gear list is nothing special. I was about to write that I’m baffled by the neurotic level of detail gear lists have, but mine is pretty bad nowadays. It seems even gloves or pegs have five word names with a lot of ‘exploring’, ‘pure’ and ‘nature’ in them. Going online ensures the ‘do I need this’ question is always answered with a YES. The worst is Ultralightoutdoorgear.com, where everything is sorted by weight. This conveniently conceals the fact that sorting the shop by weight (low to high) has almost the same result as sorting by price (high to low).
Therefore, we need a good defense against buying expensive lightweight stuff. One trick is to realise walking doesn’t need any gear at all. Just good shoes, decent socks and something to keep the rain out. If that doesn’t help ask yourself this question:
What does hillwalking do for me and how can my gear enhance that?
My answers to this question and my gear list for the TGO Challenge are in the next edition of this blog. One gram at a time!
More posts on my preparation for the TGO Challenge here.