Tips from a Ten Tors Veteran

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With the event fast approaching here are some Ten Tors top tips….

Waterproofs:

  • When it comes to caring for your waterproofs it is always better to wipe any mud off rather than putting them through a washing machine.
  • If you need to put waterproofs through the washing machine do this on a low-temperature setting, and DO NOT wash them in ordinary laundry detergent- doing so will ruin any breathability and rapidly degrade the waterproofing. Instead use NikWax Tech Wash or similar.
  • If buying a waterproof it is better to buy a `single layer` waterproof than one with a non-detachable fleece liner. This allows you to take off or add layers of clothing as the weather, and your activity level varies.

Boots and feet:

  • Blister Plasters: having tried out many blister plasters over the years there is only one brand that actually works- Compeed. Compeed was originally designed by the Swedish Army and will adhere to your foot for up to three days hard walking. Boot`s own brand, Scholl`s own brand, and Superdrug`s own brand will come off in a sticky mess after a few hours walking.
  • If you are prone to Blisters it is a good idea to wrap the offending area(s) in Zinc Oxide Tape (and/or Compeed), this extremely sticky robust tape will add an extra layer as a barrier.    
  • Many walkers swear by wearing a thinner sports type sock underneath your walking socks; this is very much personal preference.
  • Leather boots are much more robust and better suited to the acidic and boggy environment of Dartmoor.
  • Make sure you wash your boots between hikes- an old toothbrush is ideal for this, and treat the leather/fabric with a waterproofing compound.
  • If it is your first year walking with Cabot please ask your Team Leader how to correctly wear gaiters.
  • If you want your feet to stay dry invest in a pair of `Seal Skin` waterproof hiking socks, you won`t regret it.
  • Rubbing mineral spirits into your feet to toughen them up doesn`t work.

Reducing Hiking Bag Weight:  

  • Examples of what not to pack (that were actually packed by walkers): 2Kg of oranges, three penknives, a camping lantern, a book.
  • First and foremost remember you are not going camping for a week. If what you are packing is not on the Official Kit List don`t pack it.
  • Only pack the Spoon/Spork from your Knife/Fork/Spoon Kit.
  • As a team, you should be carrying three stoves, three FULL gas bottles, and three cooking vessels. Do not take more than this and divide the weight equally among the team.
  • Use resealable thick plastic sandwich bags as opposed to Tupperware.
  • Repackage your personal first aid kit, purification tablets, and anything else in a case into resealable thick plastic sandwich bags. This will reduce the overall weight and increase the waterproof ability.  
  • Pack the smallest notebook and pencil you can find, this isn`t a geography field trip, sun cream sachets are cheaper and lighter than a full bottle, pack the lightest penknife/multi-tool you own.

Pre-Hike:

  • If possible try to reduce the amount of sports you are doing 2-3 days before the hike so you are as fresh as possible.
  • Try to get a few good night’s sleep in the days leading up to the hike.
  • Carb load: the day before the hike try to eat as much carbohydrate rich food as you can manage (bread, potatoes, pasta, rice etc). This will maximise your glycogen reserves and prevent you `crashing` during a hike.

Eating and Drinking:

  • It is highly recommended you invest in a `camelback`/water bladder so you can drink as you are going along, rather than having to wait until the team stops. These can be purchased for less than £3 delivered (Ebay).
  • To state the obvious, you will be burning up to 500 Calories an hour you need to eat a lot!
  • It is highly likely that you will not officially stop for a lunch break. Instead, it is better to eat little and often throughout the entire day.
  • It`s easier to eat food going downhill than it is uphill.
  • Examples of foods which have a high weight: calorie ratio, and are easy to eat whilst walking are as follows: chocolate bars, cereal bars, flapjacks, brownies, blocks of jelly, molt loaf, hot cross buns, crepes, cliff shot blocks, dextrose tablets, Kendal mint cake, peanut butter sachets, sport beans, nuts, dried fruit, frubes.
  • Try to avoid bringing more than 1 sandwich per day- they do not survive well when inevitably squashed into a rucksack, and (more applicable to 45 and 55) are more difficult to eat whilst walking.  
  • Fresh fruit is heavy and is easily bruised/squashed. Don`t worry about getting your 5- a day when hiking.
  • Porridge (either in an `Adventure Food` pouch or porridge pot) is a good slow release carbohydrate to start a hike with. It is also significantly lighter than a wayfarer/boil in the bag.
  • `Mountain house` and `Adventure Food` offer a very tasty range of dehydrated pouch meals. They are lighter, tastier, and provide significantly more calories than boil in the bags/wayfarers.

Pre-Event:

  • Beg, borrow or acquire a second sleeping bag and roll mat for the Friday night so you can leave your hiking kit packed.
  • A pillow and ear plugs for the Friday night are always a good idea.
  • Get to bed as early as possible, you will be getting up at 0500!
  • Pack your own toilet roll/wet wipes for the Friday and Saturday morning, the porta-loos always run out.
  • Do not go on the rotating climbing frame or climbing tower.   

Post Event:

  • For approximately £10 you can have you medal engraved with three lines of text (distance, team, and time finished) and a quality presentation box. There are also badges and Team Photos for sale.
  • If you have applied zinc oxide or Compeed the easiest way to get it off is to soak it off in the bath.
  • It is a nice way to wind down and discuss the event if you travel back as a team in the mini buses.
  • When home it is a good idea to have a family member in the room with you if you have a bath. There is a very real possibility of falling asleep in the bath through exhaustion.

Navigation:

  • There should always be two members navigating. When fatigue sets in the likelihood of making navigational errors increase dramatically.
  • If you don`t know or have forgotten how to take a bearing ask your Team Leader.
  • Think about when you will have to re-fold your map, it is not a good idea to attempt to refold it at the summit of a windy Tor.
  • If you have your own laminated map of Dartmoor add the bird nesting areas to it with a primary colour. Circle checkpoints with a permanent marker (which won`t wash off in the rain) and later remove with nail-polish remover.  

Miscellaneous tips:

  • Attach the inner/flysheet of your tent to the outer before you set off as it is one less job to do at end of a hard days walking.
  • As soon as you stop walking at the end of the day you will want to sit down. Don`t. Be disciplined and take off any wet clothing, replace it with dry clothing, and start pitching your tent and cooking.
  • Your personal First Aid Kit should contain over the counter Paracetamol and Ibuprophen or Ibuprophen Gel. `Energy Plus` caffeine tablets and Co Codamol may also be helpful for those doing 45 or 55miles (again all over the counter).
  • As a team leader if you are getting cold think assess how the physically smaller, and more inexperienced members of your team are doing.
  • In very hot weather undo your fly when walking to maximise ventilation and reduce the chances of chafing. Remember when you arrive at a Tor…
  • If you suffer from rucksack rub/chafing on your shoulders/hips/lower back apply a sanitary towel(s) covered with duct/gorilla tape.
  • A pair of rugby/cycling undershorts are highly recommended to wear over your underwear to prevent chafing- this is more aimed at males.
  • The chest strap of your rucksack should be at approximately the height of your nipples.
  • Carry a very small pot of Vaseline to apply liberally to any chafed areas- again more aimed at males.
  • Avoid hiking/walking trousers with zip off bottoms that turn into shorts- if the zip area is not covered it will cause chafing.
  • When packing your rucksack try to keep the heaviest items at the top.