Walking In the really rough stuff.

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I spend much of my time in really wild places. Places that most outdoorsy folk would never ever go. I go to lots of places but my favourites are really wild remote lochs inbetten or far away from the high hills that munrobaggers ruin, way off the beaten track far from roads so most fisherman won't make it in and in places often too bleak even for sheep to survive in.

So where exactly? That would be telling but think of some of the wildest bleakest moors of Sutherland, Rannoch and some of the very remote sea lochs in Scotland. Now the problem I have is this, every survivial and outdoor book ever written states "stay dry" and that makes perfect sense, we are safer and comfier if we are dry but it's simply not possible to have dry feet and legs in these places so how do people cope?

If I walk along the shores of a remote loch, often the shoreline is the safest place to walk. Further away from theshore and it's floating bog, huge peat hags or a combo on a steep rocky slope interspersed with small and not so small burns and rivers that turn into torrents after even a small shower. My point is that the only way across is by wading through these watercourses and often they are too deep and too fast to wade so often the only way is to walk into the loch and around the mouth. It's impossible to stay dry and the only way forward is to dress in wets and sleep in dries like jungle trekkers. This to me is like dancing with the devil and it makes crossing or visiting these very special places extremely dangerous and impassable for much of the year. In the summer you are unlikely to get hypothermia (not impossibly just unlikley) if you are prepared but in spring, autumn and winter its a dead cert if you walk in those conditions ( unless it's hard frosta nd you can tentatively cross).

How or do other people here visit these places? I can't imagine many do purely on the basis of lack of footprints and other evidence I'd find if folk did. As far as I'm aware this other than the remote islands is the remotest wild land we have left in the uk and maybe by being so difficult to cross is it's saving grace. I love it.
 

StJon

Nomad
May 25, 2006
490
3
58
Largs
I know what you mean, I visit some for the rough fishing, and have saw me carry in chest wadders. One great thing is you are going to stay warm with the wind being kept off your kidneys. Have tried walking in them but it can get sweaty...
jon
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,884
2,762
S. Lanarkshire
Not recently, but I have done a lot of wet walking; day after day after day, wet, cold, never dry.
The only advice I can give is stop the wind, stop it dead, don't matter if you're sodden wet, stop the windchill, and keep moving. Doesn't need to be fast, it just needs to be moving.
The only time to stop is when there's dry sunshine or a fire.
Open up your clothing and let the heat evaporate a lot of the damp.

That and liquid to drink, not hot hot, or alcohol, that just makes you sweat, but liquid like sweet tea, coke or irn bru. Plain water does but it needs something added, herbs or the salt/sugar stuff.

Amazing places you can get to though :D So silent of the racket of modern life, clean air, spirit cleansing, blood beatingly alive places, desolate though they may appear on the surface.

For preference I chose natural fibres, but not cotton. Linen and wool, leather and silk too. Cotton only if really heavily proofed as an outer layer, but that makes for a lot of weight.

So glad someone else relishes those places :cool:

atb,
M
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
48
Edinburgh
A few options spring to mind... There's the Buffalo pile and pertex system, which will apparently keep you warm even when dripping wet, there's the wind barrier approach as suggested by Toddy, or you could just strip off for the river crossings, stuff your clothes in a drybag, get through it and towel off.

If you are going to get wet, choice of fibres and appropriate layering can make a big difference. I ended up in a fast-flowing river on my last outing (long, stupid story, don't ask ;)), and got completely soaked from head to toe. Having wrung out my moleskin trousers and merino wool baselayer, the only thing to do was put them back on and keep going. Neither fabric was particularly cold, even soaking wet. If I'd been in jeans and a cotton T-shirt, it could well have been a disaster. Wouldn't fancy it in winter though...
 

Joonsy

Native
Jul 24, 2008
1,483
0
UK
If you are going to get wet, choice of fibres and appropriate layering can make a big difference --- Having wrung out my moleskin trousers and merino wool baselayer, the only thing to do was put them back on and keep going. Neither fabric was particularly cold, even soaking wet.

Hi gregorach, what type of moleskins do you mean, those sold for shooting like Barbour etc: or those sold in army surplus shops often described as German army moleskins, are those German army ones suitable, the two types seem and feel completey different. Thanks.
 
Great replies...keep em coming. Ok here's my take on some answers

St Jon
Chest waders
Ideal if you can walk in them, but I don't think I could nor carry a bergan with them. Great for a day's fishing though!

Toddy
Stop the wind
Absolutley spot on, I wear a goretex shell even when soaked and carry a bivi bag to sit in when having stops for a kk brew
Keep moving
Again this is great advice although I'd say keep moving until you dins any kind of shelter be it natural or carried, keep moving will keep you warm in all bu tthe worst conditions mor eor less
Stop when dry or sunshine/fire
Yep and enjoy the scenery that's why we are here, a fire is a no no as these places are largley treeless or if there are trees, usually sssi's
Hydrate/Energy
absolutley, you rely on being self sufficient and being able to ealk in and out which uses HUGE amounts of calories
Natural fibres but not cotton
WEll I agree, I wore a wool shirt kept me warm even when soaked but I wore jungle army lightweights in cotton, my idea being sure i'll be soaked but they air dry in the wind in about 15 minutes.
Gregorach
Buffalo/Pertex combo/appropriate clothing
If I could buy buffalo pertex in a size 56 chest I'd buy it but I can't!:eek: But yes it does seem ideal. I wear piled fleece in the winter and it retains a lot of warmth when wet but it is not as good as proper buffalo pile.
Strip and swim/wade
Only it's summer as in these places you are wading aburn every couple of hundred yards or so. So not possible unless it's summer but you's spend all your time in the buff if you had to strip! Shorts I do wear but then the midgies hit you.

If I look at other peoples cultures where they have a similar terrain I get glimpses of how they cope.HipWaders is the standard fare in Canada/Alaska and Russia, if only I could get waders with a climbing/walking boot!

The other alternative that I've looked into for autumn/spring and winter use is one of these...cheap and cheerful but daft but it may work...:lmao:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sea-Survival-...es_RL?hash=item1aa86466a&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
48
Edinburgh
Hi gregorach, what type of moleskins do you mean, those sold for shooting like Barbour etc: or those sold in army surplus shops often described as German army moleskins, are those German army ones suitable, the two types seem and feel completey different. Thanks.

Yeah, I was referring to the "German army" moleskins. They're not brilliant in that they're quite slow drying, but they don't seem as cold as you might expect when wet.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,884
2,762
S. Lanarkshire
The last time I did this it was for three weeks field walking in the Lake District at the tail end of Winter/ just into Spring. Absolutely miserable weather and every field or wood had at least two becks we had to cross. No way to dry kit, so it got wet, it got worn wet, it got put back on wet. Just put waterproofs on top. Leather boots were sploonging but surprisingly warm, fabric ones disintegrated.
Just keep kit on and walk through the becks, you lose more heat trying to strip to keep clothes dry and it was pouring sleet anyway.
Decent waterproofs, a wool hat and it's bearable to work/ walk.
When the Sun did break through it was glorious :D
I lost a stone and a half in three weeks :rolleyes: , -17oC at night didn't help any :sigh:

Long story, but the gist is that my Father lived wild on Rannoch Moor for three years before the war while he recovered from Rheumatic Fever.
He said that long shorts and bare feet became an incredibly practical way to live, except when the ground froze or was covered in snow.

Woodsmoke if you can source the buffalo pile we can make you a jacket.


cheers,
Toddy
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
48
Edinburgh
I had a friend who lived wild on Kishorn Point for a couple of years - mostly barefoot, with shorts in the summer and a kilt in the winter (he found the kilt too hot in the summer). He was pretty hardy though...
 

EdS

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
walking sandals or neoprene boots.

Tradition brogue - desgned for this terrain. The fancy punched pattern on brogues was orginally holes right through to let the water out. Coupled with wool socks - M(a)cBob is your uncle. The orginal Scottish/Irish equivilant to jungle boots, but will keep your feet warm(ish).
 
Toddy:You_Rock_ , I'll get back to you on this one nearer the winter. I think you and I may be working on the same event in September so I'll catch you then.

As for sandals, not enough support for this terrain at all. Wear them in the loch and you'll get sand and grit inside. Wear them on the rough and you'll break your ankles.
Neoprane boots, well the special forces ones would be ideal the kind that USMC sell but normal ones no way-I've rtried.

Brogues...they weren't designed for this terrain, there were no houses where I'm talking bout nor a history of even black highland cattle grazing so no reaosn to cross. Brogues weer designed to let the water out but not designed for this terain. You'd break your ankles wearing brogues and a pack on this stuff.

Now jungle boots would be ok. I wear normal leather boots and accept they'll be wet but warm and protected. Recently I've experimented with meindle dessert boots, tough as heck but i suspect as Toddy says not as tough as leather.
 
Woodsmoke, have you considered thigh waders as a compromise version of chest waders? Marginally easier to walk in, I use them for my fishing sometimes, as I can't get on with chest waders (get too hot and sticky, and don't often want to be in above my waist.
When I first started hiking in wetish places in my early teens, I came up with a cheap combo that was actually very effective I.E. comfortable wellies combined with cheap rubberised waterproof overtrousers. I chopped the trousers off just below the knee (like long water proof shorts) to provide ventilation for the legs, any rain just ran down onto the boots. Looked like some Robinson Crusoe maniac but worked for a couple of years when I didn't have money to by proper gear. Would even use in again now in the right situation.
 
H

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Guest
I'd go for a Paramo jacket and salopettes and a good pair of leather boots (Scarpa or Lowa) as trekking gear (wet kit) with a dry layer of wool shirt and trousers in my bag (dry kit).

If you get chilly when you stop walking, use a Paramo insulated jacket as an over-layer and use a full sized sleeping mat to recline on so you don't lose heat to the ground.
 

hanzo

Nomad
Feb 12, 2006
431
14
58
Hawaii
hanzosoutdoors.blogspot.com
I haven't in a while, but when I used to go through lots of wet like you describe, I take a pair of tabi's along with my hiking boots. Most of the time, I am in the tabi's. They cover your feet and have great traction. And a pair of flip flops in the pack so you can air out your feet at camp.

As for clothes, in those conditions it's usually a pair of swim trunks with dry clothes packed up. But then, my weather is different from yours. But take a look at the Japanese fishing tabi's.
 

pete79

Forager
Jan 21, 2009
114
5
In a swamp
Hello.
I spend a lot of time out in the boons of Northern Canada with my job, and this is what I wear/take to stay warm and dry. Work pays for it, and the price tags make you feel feint when you see them, but they are very good, and I'm sure it must be possible to buy cheaper stuff which is just as effective. The environments I am working in are upland and tundra, with lots of water and waist high willow. I am out there for up to a week at a time, with no hope of getting fresh, dry clothes (I do take fresh undies though, I'd like to point that out), so it has to be good. I also have to keep my pack weight down, so keeping clothing to a minimum is very important.

Polypropalene long sleeved T shirt to whick any sweat away from my body.

Nylon, polyester, spandex combo jacket.

Nylon and polyester hiking trousers.

Hiking boots with gortex lining (regularly "soak" the things in Dubbin, I put some on before every trip).

The jacket and trousers are pretty good at shedding the water by themselves, but if it pours it down, or I am walking through wet willows (which is almost daily), I put on a gortex rain jacket, and waterproof trousers, and when the rain stops, I take them off again.
I find that layers are the key (and synthetics, not cotton, cause as someone already said, it holds water and loses it's insulation value when wet). When you're hiking drop layers, because you're going to sweat. As soon as I stop, I layer up with jacket and hat (even if I'm feeling boiling), because you'll quickly feel chilled otherwise.
The only other clothing I take is merino wool long johns and a light weight synthetic fleece for sleeping in.
All the kit I wear is Arcteryx. I'm not on contract to advertise them, I just find that it is good, quality clothing, and works well, but is overpriced I think. Buy supreme quality boots in particular, and look specifically at the area where the sole is attached to the boot. Good boots are expensive, but they're worth it in the long run cause it's not much of a laugh when you still have 50 kms to hike to get to civilization and the sole of your boot starts flapping about (Trust me, I've done it).

I'm not sure who suggested hip waders, they sound sweaty to me and they're definately not standard backcountry fare in Canada and Alaska. I rarely see people in the backcountry, and when I do I've never come across anyone in hip waders (did come across a man in a T shirt and pyjama bottoms once, but that's a different story.

That's my backcountry, **** end of nowhere, walking in rough terrain, stuff. It works for me.

cheers,

Pete
 
Hi Pete, that's interesting. I'm surprised you said decent hiking boots and not hip boots. Many of the films I've seen on Canada/Russia and pics on the web of folk working in the wet boggy tundra type conditions were folk wearing hip boots. Many of the folk canoed and got float planed in and they wore hip boots. Dick P wore them often too. So I guess it's down to what tyupe of habitat you are in at the time and what you are doing. I wouldn't walk 50km in hip boots but I'd walk 5-10km if I had to. But ordinary decent hiking boots would just get soaked in the terrain I'm talking about but there's no alternative if you want to walk 50km I guess.

Let me try and find some pics and I'll post them up.
 

pete79

Forager
Jan 21, 2009
114
5
In a swamp
Hello mate.
The terrain and vegetation is almost exactly like the Scottish Highlands. I'm British, I just live and work in Canada, so the highlands was one of my former stomping grounds. It's got the same tussocks, with little pools, the same peat bogs, just a lot more willow thicket present. The weather is almost the same too, just gets a lot colder at night at this time of year.
Hip and chest waders would be good if you're walking a few hundred yards, and being flown in by float plane or helicopter, but they're not practical if you're largely foot based.
That's the kit I have for what I do, and that's the kit that the government here issues to all it's backcountry staff, so I suppose you could say it's tried and tested and well thought out.
Only time I ever see guys in hip waders or chest waders here or in Alaska, is when they're stood in the middle of a river catching salmon, dolly varden, or bull trout.
The boots work very well for me, I just don't stick my feet in deep pools of water, I avoid them. A good application of dubbin, and as long as I don't let water get above the level of the boot, the foot stays dry.

Take care,

Pete
 

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