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The benefits of bright clothing

The benefits of bright clothing


Postby gld73 » Sun May 02, 2021 4:19 pm

There were at least 3 people who had accidents walking in the Highlands yesterday and had to be rescued by Search & Rescue helicopter (none of them were life threatening fortunately - fractures and dislocations. Not the 'flip flops up a mountain' brigade either, people dressed appropriately and just unlucky with a slip or trip like any one of us could be). The crew had a hard job locating one of the one casualties; he was kitted out in good gear for the hills ...but his coat, trousers and rucksack were all in dark colours. Made him very difficult to spot on the mountain! Nice guy and experienced hill walker, but has realised the benefits of not going for head to toe stylish black attire now, to minimise the cold, painful wait for rescue.

Reminded me of going to a mountain safety talk by Heather Morning of Mountaineering Scotland a while ago where she put up photos showing scenes with people we had to try and spot - some in bright coats, some in dark coats ( the latter like looking for a needle in a haystack from a distance, even in good conditions). I vaguely recall she made a comment about if she had her way, everyone would be required to wear red or orange coats when hillwalking! I now always try and wear a bright jacket/top and/or have a bright rucksack (I also always have a reflective blanket or orange survival bag in my rucksack too, but there's no guarantee I'd be able to get those out if I had an accident). Hopefully I'll never require Mountain Rescue or Search & Rescue .... but if I do, no point in making their job any harder than it already is!

Something to bear in mind next time you're treating yourself to a new coat ... :D
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby dav2930 » Sun May 02, 2021 6:07 pm

That's a really good point you make. I'm inclined to agree with HM that red or orange should be mandatory on the hills - back in the 1970's they were the only colours available. These days everything seems to be in black and if that's the fashion I can't think why - it's just drab. Worse still is dark green, which some folk seem to like to wear. :roll:
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby simon-b » Sun May 02, 2021 6:28 pm

Dav is right about the bright orange cagoules (and tents) that were once seen all over the hills, for the very reason gld mentions. But some people, including at least one guide book writer (sorry, I can't remember who) found this an eyesore, and there followed a trend towards more subdued colours. Anyone wanting to combine wildlife observation with mountaineering may prefer more camouflaged clothing too; You're unlikely to see Bear Grylls on the mountains in day-glo orange!

A friend and I encountered a particular guide on Aonach Eagach, better not say who she was (errr...not saying whether the previous posts give a hint) and wouldn't have her guide me if she paid me. In fact dav, this was your reply to my friend's report of that day! Copied and pasted, don't know if you remember...

[Well done indeed! :clap: That was a totally absorbing report to read. Cracking photos too - some of them quite stunning. Surprising that some of the parties you encountered were roped up; that seems well OTT for a summer traverse (Winter a different matter). That guide sounded positively rude!]

However, I agree safety is paramount. I personally prefer blue clothing on the hills, which I feel gives a reasonable compromise between visual pollution and invisibility. My emergency survival (bivvy) bag is orange, though!
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby Mal Grey » Sun May 02, 2021 6:41 pm

When outdoors, I'm generally trying to blend in and watch nature, both when walking and canoeing. So a huge amount of my gear is green or muted colours.

However when I'm in the hills/mountains (or paddling whitewater for similar reasons!), I have a separate outfit that is somewhat brighter. A bright blue Gore-Tex (I call it my new Gore-Tex because it replaced my previous one in 2004!). I also have a slightly brighter fleece and still carry a good old orange survival bag. My rucksack is fairly bright too.

I once bought a "bothy bag" in a sale bin without checking it over. Nice and cheap, but it is dark green inside the bag! Its not been without its uses, but that's not the colour for trying to be found on a wild mountain.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby Chris Henshall » Sun May 02, 2021 6:49 pm

Now I'm certainly no right wing libertarian - I even wear a face mask as well as a tie at work - but if anyone starts to dictate that I wear bright colours on the hill just in case I need to be rescued... well, my reaction would be to cam up. Walking is not a dangerous activity - most of us have been doing it without too many mishaps since we were really quite small - and laying the law down about how people should be dressed if they venture off a tarmac footpath is as thin an end of an Orwellian wedge as I've heard for a while.
Maybe everybody should be obliged to do a first aid course before they're allowed to set foot in the hills? Maybe everyone should have to register their route on a central database before they venture out? Maybe those irresponsible fell runners should be barred if they insist on wearing those flimsy trail shoes? Maybe everyone should be obliged to carry satellite trackers? Maybe everyone should fill out a standard risk assessment before leaving their cars? Maybe we could have colour coded fluorescent rucksack covers for different certified levels of competence which walkers should display at all times so that a network of drone-mounted cameras guided by artificial intelligence can assess the likely demand for rescue teams over busy weekends on the Ben?
The likes of Bell, Borthwick, Brown, Collie, Cunningham, Haston, MacInnes, Marshall, Murray, Muir, Naismith, Nisbet, Patey, Raeburn, Smith, Weir - and, yes, Munro - would, I think, find an injunction to wear bright colours (never mind the rest of it) rather surprising! And maybe those who think it necessary to make unnecessary regulations for others should take a step back?
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby AyrshireAlps » Sun May 02, 2021 8:32 pm

I think the comment about it being compulsory had a slight bit of tongue in cheek tbh. :lol:

I always wear bright colours, great for standing out in pictures, and for the OPs reasons too.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby Coop » Sun May 02, 2021 8:48 pm

Chris Henshall wrote:Now I'm certainly no right wing libertarian - I even wear a face mask as well as a tie at work - but if anyone starts to dictate that I wear bright colours on the hill just in case I need to be rescued... well, my reaction would be to cam up. Walking is not a dangerous activity - most of us have been doing it without too many mishaps since we were really quite small - and laying the law down about how people should be dressed if they venture off a tarmac footpath is as thin an end of an Orwellian wedge as I've heard for a while.
Maybe everybody should be obliged to do a first aid course before they're allowed to set foot in the hills? Maybe everyone should have to register their route on a central database before they venture out? Maybe those irresponsible fell runners should be barred if they insist on wearing those flimsy trail shoes? Maybe everyone should be obliged to carry satellite trackers? Maybe everyone should fill out a standard risk assessment before leaving their cars? Maybe we could have colour coded fluorescent rucksack covers for different certified levels of competence which walkers should display at all times so that a network of drone-mounted cameras guided by artificial intelligence can assess the likely demand for rescue teams over busy weekends on the Ben?
The likes of Bell, Borthwick, Brown, Collie, Cunningham, Haston, MacInnes, Marshall, Murray, Muir, Naismith, Nisbet, Patey, Raeburn, Smith, Weir - and, yes, Munro - would, I think, find an injunction to wear bright colours (never mind the rest of it) rather surprising! And maybe those who think it necessary to make unnecessary regulations for others should take a step back?


I don't think anyone is laying down the law. Just some pointers maybe.
You raise a couple of good points as well. It would be good if more people were first aid trained -need to look into getting a refresher course myself
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby simon-b » Sun May 02, 2021 9:05 pm

AyrshireAlps wrote:I think the comment about it being compulsory had a slight bit of tongue in cheek tbh. :lol:



Hmm... have you met her? But like I said, not saying whether I have or not...
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby al78 » Sun May 02, 2021 9:10 pm

Chris Henshall wrote:Maybe everybody should be obliged to do a first aid course before they're allowed to set foot in the hills? Maybe everyone should have to register their route on a central database before they venture out? Maybe those irresponsible fell runners should be barred if they insist on wearing those flimsy trail shoes? Maybe everyone should be obliged to carry satellite trackers? Maybe everyone should fill out a standard risk assessment before leaving their cars? Maybe we could have colour coded fluorescent rucksack covers for different certified levels of competence which walkers should display at all times so that a network of drone-mounted cameras guided by artificial intelligence can assess the likely demand for rescue teams over busy weekends on the Ben?
The likes of Bell, Borthwick, Brown, Collie, Cunningham, Haston, MacInnes, Marshall, Murray, Muir, Naismith, Nisbet, Patey, Raeburn, Smith, Weir - and, yes, Munro - would, I think, find an injunction to wear bright colours (never mind the rest of it) rather surprising! And maybe those who think it necessary to make unnecessary regulations for others should take a step back?


You forgot to mention that there should be gates at every viable access route up all hills, and to pass through should require a written examination to be completed to demonstrate suitable competance. If you don't meet the pass mark, you are turned away.

I tend to lean towards feeling a little uncomfortable with advocating what people should wear in an apparent attempt to reduce their vulnerability. It goes too close to similar ideas that cyclists should wear bright fluorescent clothing so motorists don't crash into them, or that women should not wear sexy clothes to reduce the risk of sexual assault (i.e. victim blaming) for my liking.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby Chris Henshall » Sun May 02, 2021 9:13 pm

Dear Coop,
Sorry, just saw the phrase, "I'm inclined to agree with HM that red or orange should be mandatory..." from Dav2930 and went off on one! All in favour of people taking first aid courses if they want (or need) to - I have to re-take a wilderness first aid course every three years to keep my instructor's certificate valid - but, for me at least, heading off into the hills (in a non-instructional capacity) is about a certain freedom and I reckon that, if I want to do it in open toed sandals, shorts and a T-shirt (as I have done quite frequently), I should be free to do it.
If, of course, my poor judgement results in me needing to be rescued, well, that'll be embarrassing and there'll be good reason for me to change my behaviour. But walking up hills is a very, very safe pastime (compared with, for example, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, surfing, etc.) and requiring people to wear clothing of a prescribed colour is disproportionate to the risk. Besides, as I remember from the 70s, seeing the hills cluttered up with walkers in day glow orange and yellow as soon as it started to drizzle was always a bit grim.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby Chris Henshall » Sun May 02, 2021 9:28 pm

Dear Al78,
Always good to discover a like-minded soul - although some of the those gates do seem to be quite tricky for some of the kids I take into the hills... I once spent ten hilarious minutes watching three lads who had come down Gillercomb in the Lakes completely fail to open the gate through the wall at the top of Sour Milk Gill. Of course, they should have pre-sat a written examination in gate latch mechanisms... but, if they had, it would have diminished my day and, possibly, deprived them of a learning opportunity. Fortunately, though, they had followed my instructions as to their attire and so were all wearing fluorescent yellow cagoules and I was therefore able to see their incomprehension and ensure that they survived the experience.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby simon-b » Sun May 02, 2021 11:46 pm

Chris, I can understand why you went off on one, nothing to do with dav's comments, but your general feeling of being dictated to. There is a balance to strike between responsibility and freedom, of course. Most mountain guides I've met have been helpful, knowledgeable and polite, but just the odd one or two seem to think nobody should be on 'their hill' without a guide.

I think lockdown has perhaps made it easier for us to get wound up as well! A couple of things I've seen on the BBC news about the Lakes have wound me up too. A national trust official was criticising walkers for creating a new path alongside a made path - true, that is best avoided where possible, but sometimes the made paths are iced up and you have to walk alongside them. And some people find descending the stone paths too hard on their knees and have to get onto a softer surface. Then there was a report from Scafell Pike saying 'always use the path' which is infuriating to anyone who values the access rights and the right to roam.

On the other hand, it's right that we should be encouraged to know what we're doing on the hills and how to be safe and responsible, so we can make our own informed choices.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby pww235 » Mon May 03, 2021 12:21 am

I love an orange jacket....sorry!

But I will plant myself on the fencepost as I can see both sides of the discussion.

Maybe the darker jackets could have a ridiculously bright lining? :wink:
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby maxie23 » Mon May 03, 2021 6:48 am

pww235 wrote:I love an orange jacket....sorry!

But I will plant myself on the fencepost as I can see both sides of the discussion.

Maybe the darker jackets could have a ridiculously bright lining? :wink:


I have the very thing.

A lightweight montane jacket which is light brown on the outside but has a bright orange lining.
You could reverse it in a minute.
Never thought about it until I saw this discussion.
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Re: The benefits of bright clothing

Postby Chris Henshall » Mon May 03, 2021 7:20 am

Dear Simon-b,
Thanks; your balanced summary is very sensible. In the same way that freedom of speech doesn’t include the right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, freedom of the hills doesn’t include the right to behave with reckless abandon and trigger mountain rescues – but then neither does it include the right to tell others what to do in an autocratic and needless fashion. As in most things in life (including climbing along narrow mountain ridges) balance is the key!
As to going off on one, it was always – to an extent – tongue in cheek. Having a rant about being told to wear an orange rather than a green cagoule is hardly comparable with having a rant about the UK cutting its aid contributions or selling arms to be used in Yemen... but, perhaps, more appropriate on a website devoted to climbing hills!
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