The Countdown Begins: Preparing my Kit List for the GR20.
As I sit here writing this article it is exactly five weeks until my plane leaves for Nice, 33 days until I start my biggest challenge yet, 792 hours to go until I set foot on the epic GR20 trail.
The GR20 is an extremely tough trail; parts of it akin more to mountaineering than to hiking, so when it comes to packing, being accurate and doing your research is essential. Pack weight is a paramount factor and mindful packing and kit planning will make all the difference when you are on the mountains. From my research, it’s fairly apparent that a drop-outs in the early stages of the GR20 are not uncommon, and a spoiled expedition due to an oversight such as neglectful packing and lack of research into equipment is not something I want to expose myself to.
In terms of weight, a trek like this should require a pack no heavier than 15kg. You will suffer very badly and unnecessarily if you exceed this weight. In all honesty, the lightest you can possibly get your pack and equipment weight, the better, especially when you factor in that you need to be carrying your food and water supplies with you as well.
The next section outlines a rough guidance on what I will be carrying; a total weight of 14.7Kg, including emergency food and water and provision. I will be doing a review on my kit when I return from Corsica.
- Walking boots
Something as tough as the Trespass Rhode is a necessity. The rocks are very abrasive and the ground is extremely tough on your footwear. Therefore, choosing a boot that has a fairly solid footbed is important. If you stand on a small rock and can feel it through the bottom of your boot, then your boot is too soft for the GR20.
- Flip flops
For the evenings, to give feet a rest from the confines of walking boots.
- 3 pairs of pants
- 2 pairs of hiking socks
Quality over quantity when it comes to clothing, especially socks.
- 1 pair of shorts and trousers
Both Gore-tex and quick drying
- 3 t-shirts
Wickability and breathability are the most important considerations here.
- 1 fleece
- A lightweight waterproof
- Sun hat, sunglasses and sun cream (vital essentials if you are Scottish and Ginger!)
- Map and guide book
GR20:Corsica complete guide to the high level route by Paddy Dillon is a must have for any one tackling this trek
I have gone for the Osprey Atmos 65, I will be doing an extensive review of this when I return.
At least 2L
- Water filtration tablets
- Walking poles (practice with them before leaving!)
- First aid kit and rope
- Book, journal and pens
- Head torch
- One man tent
I’m taking the Matterhorn Yellowstone, weighing just 1.5kg
- Jungle sleeping bag
Lightweight is key and 2 season should be sufficient for summer time, especially if sleeping in the refuges
- Lightweight sleeping mat
It’s more than a spoon, it’s also a fork. – But seriously, this is the only cutlery you need
- iPod shuffle
- Nikon camera
- EHIC card
- Travel insurance
It’s important to choose insurance which covers hiking at this altitude and airlifting out by mountain rescue. The French charge for this and you need to be prepared.
Some helpful information I have gathered in preparation for the GR20:
Using the Refuges
The refuges have beds to rent but these are limited and need to be booked in advance by email. This is not reliable, even so.
The refuges also rent out tents that have ground mats (mostly).
The final refuge option is to sleep on the floor of the refuge, which happens when there is extremely bad weather.
You can also take your own tent or bivi bag and sleep in the camping area of the refuge for €6 a night.
The refuges have showers, toilets and gas stoves for cooking. The showers are usually cold water. You can also use the gas stoves if you are camping.
I’ve calculated my costs at €20 a day to cover all my food, accommodation and other essentials. This is probably an overestimation and it would be fairly easy to cut down costs to cheaper, but at the same time, this budget allows me the affordability to enjoy the experience as much as possible!
- Bed in the Refuge = €11
- Rent a Tent = €10
- Use your own Tent = €6 Eur per night, includes use of the gas stoves, showers, toilets etc.
- Hot dinner = €18 (approx.)
Food from the Refuges
These are some of the things you can get. Some refuges have lots, others little and all prices are approximations. Bergeries also sell things like meat, bread, cheese etc.
- 1 litre of red wine = €8
- 500ml Pietra beer = €6
- Dried Meat Sausage = €10 (great to have in your pack for source of quick release energy)
- Mars Bar = €1.5
- Large bar of Chocolate = €2.50
- Tin of Tuna = €2.50
- Tin of stew = €3.5
- Loaf of bread = €5
Naturally, prices are expensive as the supplies in these refuges are difficult to import.
Relying on refuges is fine, so long as you book ahead and know exactly which days you will be where. This can pose a problem if you need to take an unplanned rest day for example.