By: Blonde Two

It is that time of year again. Every weekend from now until the afternoon of Sunday May 7th, Dartmoor will be criss-crossed with teams of eager (and muddy) youngsters all hard in training for the 2017 Ten Tors Challenge. For the first time in many years B1 and I haven’t been training our own team this year. We have missed it but maybe not some of the ridiculously early, wet camp mornings. It is probably around now that parents will be thinking about buying those last few pieces of kit for the Ten Tors Event so we thought we would help you out with some friendly advice on the Ten Tors kit list.

The full Ten Tors Challenge kit list can be found here.

Who can I ask for advice about buying Ten Tors kit?

Your first port of call should be your youngster’s Ten Tors Manager. They will be able to give you a copy of the official Ten Tors kit list and each manager has slightly different requirements. Don’t be afraid to send items in to be checked if you have doubts about suitability. Many reputable outdoor gear retailers such as Cotswold Outdoor have members of staff who have completed the Ten Tors challenge themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask when you are buying kit and remember that many retailers offer a discount if you are buying for the challenge.

How important is it to get the right Ten Tors kit?

The right kit is a matter of safety. The Ten Tors event has seen snow and heatwaves over the years, this is why there is such thorough scrutiny of kit before the event. If a scrutineer feels that a team or individual is under-equipped, they won’t be allowed to take part. Don’t be tempted to miss items off the list but you should also be aware that you don’t have to buy  the most expensive items.

What does the Ten Tors kit list mean by ‘walking trousers’?

Walking trousers should be full length and made from a material that dries quickly when wet. If you have ever walked anywhere in a pair of wet jeans you will know what we mean. Denim and heavy cotton are not suitable but walking trousers are readily available these days and don’t need to be super-expensive.

What about Ten Tors walking boots?

Your youngster will have already been training so should already have the correct boots. They need to give ankle support and be in reasonable condition. We suggest checking that the soles are well attached and the laces aren’t about to fray. Always get walking boots correctly fitted at a reputable shop.

Do I need to buy the most expensive waterproofs?

No you don’t but your youngster will need waterproofs that are both breathable and waterproof. When you look at a jacket imagine standing in a slow shower in it all day, that is the type of rain levels it might have to cope with. Once again, your outdoor retailers will be able to advise you but be aware that walking kit, particularly jackets, can be subject to big brand pricing. Waterproof trousers are a must and make a huge difference to warmth and safety.

Why do they need so much spare clothing for Ten Tors?

The aim of any good kit list is to make sure that there are two sets of clothing that will keep a person warm and dry enough to cope safely. The chances of one set of clothing getting completely soaked on Dartmoor are high, there are streams to fall in, bogs to slip into and almost always at least some rain. An emergency set of clothes should be kept separate in a waterproof bag.

Are cotton t-shirts good enough for a base layer?

We might once have said ‘yes’ to this, but in recent years tops made of materials that will ‘wick’ (draw moisture away from the skin) have become much cheaper and more readily available. Once cotton is wet, either from sweat or rain, it stays wet and can result in shivering come evening time.

Does my youngster really need to bag up their rations and label them?

Yes, absolutely, calories are as important as clothing when it comes to staying safe. The scrutineers will ask questions like, ‘Show me your Saturday tea’ and won’t appreciate faffing around and indecision. Don’t do this job for your youngster, packing is all part of the required skill-set for Ten Tors and they need to know what they are going to eat, they may well be too tired to make decisions by tea-time.

Is a 3 season sleeping bag strictly necessary for the Ten Tors Challenge?

Yes because tired, cold youngsters risk getting ill if they can’t get warm at night. The scrutineers will check sleeping bag labels and give them a good feel. You need a comfort rating of 0°C which means that the bag will feel warm enough should there be a frost. One tip to improve the warmth of a sleeping bag is to add a silk or nylon liner to the kit. These don’t take up much space and can make a few degrees of difference. Be aware though that the Ten Tors scrutineers will still expect to see a 3 season sleeping bag.

Is a plastic water bottle from the shop okay for a water container?

No! These will be rejected for a simple reason, they can and do break. Buy a thicker plastic or metal drinking bottle and check the dates on the purification tablets as these degrade and your youngster will be filling up from rivers during the event.

What if it is a really hot weekend, do I still need to provide a warm hat and gloves?

Yes, hot days can lead to cold nights and chilly youngsters are less to be able to do their best during the event.

Will my youngster be able to carry this enormous Ten Tors rucksack?

It is heavy isn’t it. We are always shocked by how much some quite small youngsters carry for the Ten Tors challenge. In our mind, all youngsters who take part are heroes just for getting through training to the starting line. You should be very proud when they come back across the finishing line!