Did you see the film Chocolat on TV over the weekend? If so, remember the bit where the Mayor gorges himself on chocolate in the shop window? That’s how I’m feeling right now. After months of saving every penny, it is kit buying time! And, due to the generous sponsorship of my kit by Connells Estate Agents, I won’t have the feeling of guilt afterwards.

I’ve discovered that kit buying is an attitude rather than an admin exercise:

  • Do I really need this, or will it just be extra weight to carry around? I’ll be on the ice for four weeks but will only take one set of clothes with me.
  • Is this item over-complicated? My rucksack will not have fancy adjustment systems and lots of pockets. The more features it has, the more there is to go wrong.
  • Is this kit up to the job? No good having a metal spoon, it will freeze to my lips. No good having a plastic spoon, it will get brittle. Wood it is then, although if anyone can find me a suitable spoon they are doing better than me!
  • What do I need to keep me alive? Is my knife good enough to cut ropes easily and free me from my sledge if I fall down a crevasse? Is my first aid kit able to support an injured person that could be days from rescue? Has this book got enough pages to stop me getting bored during storms that could last for a week?

The same four questions are worth being asked by the 1000s of participants in the Duke of Edinburgh Award preparing to walk at the moment. The answers won’t make the difference between life and death, but they will make the walk a lot more comfortable.