The year is 2037
and @SKATEHOGHILL have just announced Hoghill, The Crackling is going to be in 3 months. Brianne Collective are still talking about “definitely” throwing a Wales event this year. Maybe even at a new(ish) spot. You’ve persuaded someone to give you a lift but the question remains; what do I actually need to take?
A Welsh January freeride and a summer session in the sunny South-West will obviously require a different load out. If you’re driving yourself, bring the kitchen sink! I’ve found, however, people aren’t pleased when you’ve scraped a lift and you decide you need 3 boards…
What you need will depend on: how you’re getting there, where you’re going, and the time of year.
An IKEA bag isn’t going to cut it.
A decent sized bag is a good place to start. Sometimes it’s easiest to buy this last once you know what’s going to fill it but if you’re hoping to get a lift to a spot again; everything but your skateboard and helmet should fit in your bags. There’s nothing worse than dropping somebody off to find half their stuff across the floor.
I go for one large kit bag for my sleeping equipment, skate gear, helmet and clothes. I use a sports direct cricket bag but the best (and most expensive) is a Decent Hardware bag. Just don’t go getting the max length one unless you really need it – most car boots won’t take them.
A rucksack or dedicated skate bag for coats/hoodies, cameras and phones.
If the trip is a little longer a bumbag is perfect for your phone, wallet, keys and, if you’re smart, a skate tool. Plus it channels strong euro-freerider energy.
Which board do I take?
If you’ve got one setup, that’s probably the best one to bring. If you’re lucky enough to have a freeride and a race setup, speak to others that are going and ask what style of riding they’ll be doing. Do your research on the kind of hill it is – this includes speed, surface and corners. Is it a narrow, fast bomb, or a corner-heavy snake of a hill?
Remember there is no hill you can’t skate on a stiff deck with some correctly set up cast trucks.
Wheels are important!
I won’t leave home without a set of roughly 65mm freeride wheels. Powell Peralta Snakes, Slide Perfect Supremacys, Cult chronicles or any other freeride wheel will be fine. I always take at least two sets of wheels. Sometimes you’ll turn up to a spot and the wheels that slid so effortlessly and beautifully at your smooth, well-maintained local turn into harsh, snaggy, honky ankle twisters when they hit the rough stuff.
Here are some others to consider:
- If you want to go a little faster, some larger race wheels could be good. Venom Cannibals, Slideperfect ProFluxxs, Cult Road Warriors or anything else that size which are designed for Downhill.
- Beware of the wet! Don’t forget this is the UK, not Colorado, search longboard rain wheels and either make your own or grab some from Slide Perfect.
- More freeride wheels because freeride is life.
Here are a few comprehensive guides to longboard wheels by different companies:
Bring a Skate Tool!
No helmet, no respect.
Nobody wants to phone the ambulance for you whilst your head is cracked open in the middle of a random valley, it’s inconvenient.
Half-shell Helmet and Slide Gloves are a minimum. Depending on the hill, I’ll sometimes take knee pads, a TSG full-face helmet and sometimes a spine protector.
Ask who you’re skating with. Somebody will be able to advise on if you need more than the minimum.
Clothes to donate to the pavement gods.
I like to wear clothes but you do you:
- On the hill I usually wear some trousers and a hoodie sourced from a charity shop. These are at high risk of getting ruined. Skate shoes.
- Off the hill just dress as you normally do. Although an old event shirt is great for reminding people how long you’ve been skating but not progressed. Think layers.
- A raincoat. If you get in the car without one you’re the reason it rained.
- Thermals. The nights get cold, thank me later.
- Two sets of shoes! I can’t stress this enough! I wish I’d known sooner. A second pair of anything is a good move: sliders, walking boots, trainers. Something to give your feet a rest and keep skate shoes dry.
Food for the weekend to entirely consume on day 1.
WATER! Bring a large water bottle and please stay hydrated. It’s worth asking who in the car has what. It’s often best to buy a 5L bottle between you and leave it in the car.
A small gas stove that fits in your bag is always useful. Remember to speak with others in the car as you don’t want to have 4 gas cookers for no reason. Skaters are usually pretty good at sharing.
On top of a water bottle, a camping breakfast bowl and cutlery set are so great to pack the bottom of your bag and forget about till you need them.
I’m not going to tell you what to eat but this is what you need to consider:
- When will I next be able to shop? Roughing it on the hill for two days? Is the driver willing to stop off?
- Can I prepare it? No point turning up with a pot noodle if nobody plans on boiling water, Toby.
- Will it stay fresh in a car for 2 days? Buy all the meal deals you want but guarantee after 3 days in a warm car it’s going to give you salmonella.
- Am I going to be fuelled for an entire day’s skating? Starbursts are nice but they aren’t always what you need to stay energetic.
“Can I sleep in your van?”
Just winging sleeping arrangements is great but it’s not ideal for others. You’ve got choices and it will affect what you pack.
A sleeping bag, torch and a towel – you can’t leave the house without these unless you’re super flush and are staying in hotels but if you’re not:
- Hostels/Bed and Breakfast. You’re going to want your sleeping bag and that’s about it. Sheffield trips often end up in a shared AirBnB or hotels.
- Bothy. A bothy is a shelter left open for people to sleep in. It’s going to be a bit colder so make sure you’ve got some thermals. There is a bothy in the Elan valley but be ready for a hike!
- Tent. If you’re going to sleep in a tent, bring a tent or agree beforehand to share one. Make sure you’ve got all the parts; I’ve been there and it’s not fun. You might consider a ground mat as well as a suitable season sleeping bag.
- Hammock. This has surged in popularity for the quality of sleep you get and they’re so relaxing. You need to know if the spot has trees! You’ll need a hammock and a sleeping bag. Depending on the weather you’ll also want a rain tarp and if it’s set to be less than 10 degrees a hammock underquilt.
As with a lot in this article, it’s so important you speak with those you’re going with and have this planned out in advance.
This edit is going to be insane!
You’ve got the essentials packed in your bag and there is some room before you break the zip. This is usually when I decide what camera I’m taking:
- The one on your phone. Some of the best edits and photos have come from smartphones. Easy to edit on an app like Quik for short films. Phones are not great for skating though.
- Action camera. I’ve had an old GoPro for ages now and it’s not let me down. 360 cameras are all the rage and it’s easy to see why.
- DSLR. I love taking a stills camera and really trying to photograph the spirit of the event as well as some skating. Only if you’ve got room but it pays off in memories.
Whatever you film or capture UK Downhill related remember to tag #thrillmagazine and #ukdh when you post it!
Cheat sheet if the article was too boring:
- Your favourite skateboard!
- At least 2 sets of wheels.
- Helmet and slide gloves.
- Knee pads.
- Full face helmet if required.
- Large bag.
- Backpack (skate bag).
- Bumbag for money and phone.
- A second set of shoes.
- Clothes to skate in.
- Clothes to chill in.
- Twice as many socks as you think you need.
- At least 2L of water per day.
- Food (refer to the section).
- Suitable sleeping bag.
- Your sleeping arrangements (refer to the section).
- Something to record the memories
- A SKATE TOOL WHY DO WE NEVER REMEMBER THESE!
- BONUS IF YOUR SKATE TOOL HAS THE LITTLE METAL ALLEN-KEY THINGY THAT 90% OF SKATERS CATEGORICALLY DO NOT OWN.