October 10, 2011
Using my funding from the Globetrotters Club, I have begun purchasing essential provisions for the journey. Originally I intended to go to Millets, as this is where Paddy bought his supplies before setting out in 1933, but in the end I found what I needed in Cotswold Outdoor. It’s kind of reassuring to know that despite 80 years of advances in technology and materials, and the growth of an entire ‘outdoors’ hiking industry, the most important things I could buy are still a rucksack and a decent pair of boots. Essentially I’ve just bought the same stuff Paddy did, but lighter and more waterproof.
So rather than hobnail boots, I bought a pair of Scarpa Terra GTX boots, waterproofed with Goretex. Rather than an ‘old Army greatcoat,’ a lightweight Berghaus jacket. I’ll carry my life in a 35-litre Osprey Atmos rucksack, which has a special kind of elasticated webbing to keep it off my back. Paddy packed ‘different layers of jersey, grey flannel shirts’ and ‘a soft leather windbreaker’ — I have layers of merino wool and a Rab vest insulated with down.
I’m generally not in the least consumer-minded — my shopping trips generally consist of buying the cheapest things I can, and regretting it within a month — but the Globetrotters have given me the chance to buy the very best I can. There’s a kind of magic to these things. Trying on these super-soft, light-as-a-feather walking garments, the things that will keep me warm and dry as I trek through Central Europe’s winter, felt like the bit in the Lord of the Rings where the Hobbits get given magic cloaks and chainmail made of miracle metal, talismanic tokens and charms to see them through dark times.