Essential Gear

It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to acclimatise to the dark. So, why not take this time to tune in to the sounds of the night: an owl hooting, foxes barking, the rustle of wind in the trees or the gentle bubbling of a mountain stream…

dApps on phone or tablet

There are lots of great astronomy apps available to help you learn about the night sky. There are also all sorts of other apps for your discovery in the dark adventure including those for wildlife, sport, walking.  But remember that a bright screen will stop your eyes fully adjusting to the dark.

MBat listening device

Bats make a high pitched sound that most humans cannot hear. A bat listening device will amplify the sounds and some will even tell you what species of bats they are.

fBike lights

Good bike lights are essential, although there may be times when you really do not need lights and can enjoy the thrill of the darkness better without them.


  • a bar mounted light as your main source.
  • a lower powered helmet/head lamp for flexibility and to see deeper in the shadows created by the main beam and round corners.
  • rear lights, essential for any road sections and to help your friends know where you are.


A good pair of binoculars is as useful in the day as they can be at night. Although binoculars may not be as powerful as a telescope they will show 25 or even up to 50 times more than the naked eye. If using binoculars for astronomy, choose ones that are not too heavy as you may be holding them skyward for long periods of time.


Sleeping beneath the stars is magical – find a campsite that’s away from light pollution and dark sky friendly.


Essential to help you identify the stars above or the direction ahead. Get one that glows in the dark.

iCamping kettle and cups

Hot chocolate, steaming tea, strong coffee, spicy soup – there is nothing better than a hot drink.


Keep safe - wear a helmet.

lDark clothes, hats and gloves

Keep hidden in the shadows when wildlife watching in the dark.

nHead torch and spare batteries

Keep your hands free with a head torch.

oHigh visibility hat and vest

Essential if you are on the pubic highway walking, running or on your bike.


Map - large scale, ie 1:25,000 (such as the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps). If you can, print out a map with a red background – many online/digital maps let you do this.

BMobile phone

For emergencies, but remember -  many remote places do not have any signal so it is always worth looking at a map before you go out to see where the nearest phone box is.


Waiting for wildlife, for clouds to clear or simply for your eyes to get used to the dark takes patience. Learn to savour and love the slow unfolding of experience.


Essential for carrying equipment and supplies whilst keeping your hands free.

DSeat, blanket or big bean bag

Get something comfy to sit or lie on whilst stargazing or wildlife watching, or a blanket to wrap up warm.

KDigital SLR camera

A digital SLR camera is a fantastic tool to help you capture amazing moments in time. Get some good editing software to go with it and truly spectacular images can be created.

wSnacks and drinks

To keep you going. Great for motivating children.

vSongs that are good to sing

Nothing better than learning or sharing a song around a campfire or whilst out on a walk.

uStar, moon and planet charts

Use these to know what you are looking at and learn about the marvels of the night sky.

tStory books

Listening to stories is a lovely way for both young and old to pass the time under a starlit sky or round the golden glow of a campfire. There are amazing stories about the night sky, and myths and legends of the land beneath.

VStout shoes or boots

Good warm waterproof footwear is really important.  Cold wet uncomfortable feet can ruin what would be a great adventure. Slips, trips and falls are more likely in the dark but a good pair of shoes or boots will help you avoid them.

sTent or van

Out for the night -  find a camping or caravan site  away from light pollution and enjoy your afterdark haven.


Essential to help you find your way, look at maps and use as a light beacon in emergencies.

rTorch with red light

Keep your eyes in night vision mode. Use a red bike light or paint the torch lens with red nail varnish.


Helps keep your camera steady for those fantastic dusk, dawn and after dark adventure and landscape shots.

lWarm clothing

Even in the summer, after the sun goes down temperatures plummet. Layers of clothing work best rather than one big warm ‘all or nothing’ coat!

E Waterproof jacket and trousers

Being cold and wet ruins any adventure, and can put your health at risk. The weather in rural areas, especially on hills, mountains and the coast can change quickly so always pack your waterproofs.

HWindproof jacket

Even on a sunny day wind chill will ruin your adventure, and can put your health at risk. The weather in rural areas especially on hills, mountains and the coast can change quickly so always pack a windproof jacket.


If you do get into difficult a whistle is a good way of attracting attention.

GWildlife books

Many animals are nocturnal or are most active at dawn and dusk. There are some super wildlife books available that will help you learn about what they are and the environments in which they live.

tTide tables

Avoid getting into difficulty -  know if the tide is in or out when going on any adventure on beaches, on estuaries or coastal planes.