Wearing suitable footwear and appropriate clothes, and taking the right kit and provisions with you, will ensure that you have a better and safer day.
What to wear
The terrain can be uneven on Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa). It is recommended that you wear comfortable, ankle-supporting walking boots or trail/approach shoes with a good tread; you’ll need this tread if the rock is at all wet, especially on the way down. (We recommend that you don’t wear light trainers – they don’t support your ankles, the tread is insufficient if the ground is damp, and they aren’t waterproof.) Whilst there is less difference today between good all-terrain shoes and boots, the latter give ankle-support, which is particularly advised for rugged paths where the risk of twisting an ankle is much higher. (Probably the Llanberis Path and Snowdon Ranger Path are the only ones where lighter shoes would be acceptable throughout.)
Having said the above, footwear with ankle support, whilst reducing the risk of accidents, is not necessary on most of the paths in good weather. More important is what you are used to and comfortable with, so long as they have a decent tread (essential if the ground is wet). Don’t go out and buy yourself some new boots and wear them for the first time on the mountain – wear footwear that you have broken in.
Remember to wear comfortable socks. Good walking socks are usually made of wool, nylon, polyester or a blend of these, which don’t retain water like cotton does. Don’t wear socks that are too thick, or your feet will get over-hot.
If it looks like it’s going to be very wet, you can do worse than wear waterproof walking socks (they’re not cheap, but they’re a good investment!) Remember that wet feet often means cold feet.
Suitable clothing is essential. Don’t wear jeans; they just retain water if they get wet. Also try not to wear a cotton top; they trap sweat.
Wear layers. Depending on the weather, there will likely be times when you’re getting over-hot, and times when you’re getting cold. Being able to take off and put on layers is a good idea.
If it’s hot and you’re considering wearing a T-shirt and shorts, bear in mnd that it will likely be much cooler at the summit, and remember to take sun cream. In strong sunshine, wearing thin, loose, long sleeved clothing helps keep sunburn away, and a hat is a good idea too – there’s no shade on the mountain.
Remember the phrase “Be bold, start cold”. If you’re warm before you even start, you’re soon likely to be uncomfortably so, so ideally you should perhaps be a little chilly (especially on a cool day) before you start walking.
What to take
Mountain weather is unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to plan for all conditions. In addition to what you are wearing, you should carry a rucksack (something like a 30-litre day rucksack should be fine). Remember to keep all your stuff in a dry-bag liner inside your rucksack (a proper one or a makeshift bin-bag one) as rucksacks aren’t waterproof, and most covers aren’t up to much either.
Your rucksack should contain the following:
- a waterproof jacket and over-trousers
- an extra layer for warmth – it’s always colder higher up – whatever the time of year. You may well also appreciate a warm hat and gloves even in mid-summer.
- plenty of food and drink to keep your energy levels up. (See the section below.)
- sun cream and a sun hat (and perhaps sunglasses) in hot, sunny weather, as there is virtually no shade to be found on the mountain
- a map (O.S. map Outdoor Leisure OL17) and compass, and the knowledge to use them. The paths are marked as Rights of Way on the O.S. map, though not named. (A map is mostly a safety feature in case the unexpected happens.)
It’s a good idea to previously download the Snowdon Walks App, which is excellent. This will display a map of the path and your exact position on it, and doesn’t require a mobile signal to work.
- a whistle (should you require help, this is much more effective than shouting). The standard UK distress signal for requiring help is 6 shorts blasts of a whistle (or flashes of a torch), followed by a minute’s gap between each set of blasts.
- a simple first aid kit, with things like blister plasters, plasters, a roll bandage and a triangular bandage (the last two can serve many purposes).
- a fully-charged mobile phone, but remember that there’s no guarantee of reception. (See the tab on ‘mobile signal’.) A spare power pack is a good idea too, especially if it’s cold or if you’re thinking of taking lots of photos or videos.
If you sometimes walk with poles, you’ll definitely appreciate them on Snowdon.
If there is any likelihood at all that you won’t be down well before dark, you should carry a torch, plus spare batteries for it.
Over the winter months you’ll need to take more extra clothing, including a fleece jacket, gloves and a hat. You should also be ready to take crampons and an ice axe, according to the conditions.
Food & drink
Carrying enough food and drink is vitally important, given that you’ll likely be out for about 6 or 7 hours, and in that time burning off some 2,000 calories.
You’ll need some sort of packed lunch (sandwiches and fruit are a good idea), but apart from that, why not take some energy bars to snack on and keep you going? (A bag of jelly babies is always good for an emergency sugar boost too.)
Take plenty to drink. In cold weather you’ll probably appreciate a hot drink, but at most other times a cold drink will fit the bill. A sugary drink – cold or hot – is always good. We don’t recommend alcohol; you need to have your wits about you.
In hot weather you should stop often for a small drink; don’t risk getting dehydrated, so make sure you carry extra water or other liquid – a single bottle per person is not likely to be enough. Your drink supply has got to last you not just to the top, but all the way down as well.
Drinking from streams is not advisable (unless you’ve got some purification tablets to hand or a device such as the Sawyer water filter, which we recommend). Apart from the fact that you don’t know what might be in the water source higher up, some farmers use harsh herbicides to control bracken on the higher grazing areas. In an emergency, a fast-flowing stream which is bubbling and oxygenated is always safer than a slow trickle or still water.
Need to buy outdoor gear?
Should you need to buy any sort of outdoor gear locally, there are good outdoor shops in Llanberis, Beddgelert and Capel Curig, and at Betws y coed, just 11 miles from Snowdon on the A5, there are 9 outdoor gear shops in the village!