Some stupid (or genius?) ideas

Andy Mallison, McLovinMountains resident Mountaineering expert and skills coach shares some tips.


There are lots of outstanding instructional books out there and lots of good courses to go on.  However I’m still often surprised at the number of times one of my clients says to me “Wow…never seen that done before..”.  Which kinda got me thinking about stupid little stuff I do without thinking and yet people have either never seen them or heard about such wee “tricks”….so I’m happy to share these if it helps anyone!  Here are 10 summer hill waking/mountaineering tips…some more to follow as winter approaches:

  1. If you’re taking a compass bearing, instead of using the left edge of the base plate to line up point A to point B, use the black line on the base…much easier to see the map detail underneath.
  2. Rip your map covers off – easier to fold to show the section you want.
  3. With a map in its’ case it can be difficult to keep folded and carry comfortably in the hand – which is where it should be. Cheap elastic bands break, especially in the cold, so to keep it folded cut long strips off old bike inner tubes to make rubber bands…they last for years.
  4. If you’re in the UK don’t bother adjusting compass bearings for magnetic variation…in many places it’s less than 1 degree…you’ll not achieve that accuracy anyhow.
  5. Wear 2 pairs of socks…always. A thin liner sock and a thick outer sock.  The friction then happens between the sock layers and not between your skin and the sock…hence no blisters.
  6. Always pack your waterproof trousers with the zips undone…then they’re ready to put on and it’s quicker to do so too. Also saves losing them in a gust of wind!
  7. Get a lunch box that fits inside you climbing helmet – uses up otherwise dead space in your sac.
  8. I don’t carry water – never have done. There’s tons of the stuff on the hills.  Drink it freely…I’ve never caught anything…after all they make whisky out of it.
  9. Stuff newspaper in your boots after a day out….dampness sorted.
  10. Pack stuff such as duvets, insulating mats and sleeping bags in your sac without the stuff sacs…they will actually take up less room as you can mould them to the available space.


Note : Experience, skills and the ability to use certain tool or seek resources is of course important to take full advantage of some of these tips. Before leaving for the hills ensure you know your route, understand where and how you may gain resources such as water and know how to use things like  a map and compass correctly.


Andrew Mallison is a Mountain and Hillwalking Guide, based in the Cairngorm’s in Scotland and can be contacted on




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