Following my Wilderness First Aid class, I was asked by the 6th Dundas Scouts to speak about backpacking and first aid supplies in preparation for their backpacking trip to Algonquin.
I decided to bring all of my base equipment to show them some tricks and tips as well as sharing a list of my backpacking gear. This topic also makes a great blog post so here it is.
The post is a long one, if you wish to scroll to the end, there is a summary,
Backpacking is fun. You get to go out in nature, explore, get dirty, have fun and carry your entire home on your back. The last part is fun all on its own. Most backpackers I know will talk at length about their gear selection as if it were their child graduating university. Why should I be different?
When you carry your home on your back for long kilometers over not so easy terrain, you begin to feel the weight of every decision made. Maybe I didn't have to bring my hair gel, my 6 pack of beer, my 3 types of shoes ect... You make better decisions with each successive trip in regards to gear selection. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, do your research, alter what you find to fit your needs for weather/terrain and budget. Borrow, beg, rent, DIY equipment if you must and get yourself out there.
I must admit I did a lot of research on the web as my budget was tight and wanted to purchase the best equipment my budget would allow. Reddit has good forums for all types of outdoor adventure, check out their backpacking and camping, hammock camping sites.
The list below is my list and should not be taken as compulsory. Please feel free to check it out and adapt it to you. I would love to hear your take on gear.
I also have this list in PDF format. Spelling mistakes and all.
Most backpackers speak of the big 3 , they are referring to their shelter, sleeping system and backpack.
My big 3 are:
Hennessy Ultralite Backpacker Zip Hammock (includes straps, whoopie slings and soft shackles)
Chinook Sleeping bag with Thermarest Prolite Plus sleeping pad with DIY Underquilt
I add the following to my bag:
Soft shackles (2) (a DIY project see previous post)
Tyvek sheet - in case I go to ground or need a clean place to keep my stuff
Sit pad (2 section cut from a Thermarest Z-Lite pad)
The backpack cover is extremely useful not only in the rain but to help organize your stuff when you pull it out of your bag. I will either hang my bag with a soft shackle to a tree or place my bag in my cover overnight.
I don't always bring the Tyvek sheet. If I have to cut weight this will go as it is not a necessity. The same goes with the sit pad.
Smart Water Bottle 1L (2)
I love my Platy filter, I once woke up to find that some cazy animal had bitten though both clean and dirty bags. Tenacious tape held everything together and still has for the last 3 years.
Smart water bottles are perfect for hiking. They have smooth sides to facilitate taking them out of the bag, you can mark volumes on the side, wrap duct tape around them. they are light and can be used multiple times before recycling them.
Pot cozy (DIY with reflectix)
Mini Bic lighter
MSR Pocket Rocket
URSACK bear bag (not pictured)
OPsak (2) (not pictured)
Rope (not pictured)
I love my titanium pot, its super light and I can fit a fuel canister in it. The downside to titanium is that food sticks to it. I don't have that problem because I first boil my water then dump my dehydrated food in it. I turn my stove off and place my pot in the cozy for about 15 to 20 minutes - the food stays completely hot plus I conserve fuel. I eat straight out of the pot.
Check out how to make a pot cozy below (Shug kills me every.single.time) or a cook pouch if you are into Freezer Bag Cooking or are eating prepackaged meals like Mountain House Meals.
I'm thinking of getting rid of my spork altogether and just using a spoon as I have yet to use my fork portion of the thing.
My stove has never failed me. I'm keeping it forever.
My bear bag is white, kinda off white now. This type of bag is not to be used in a bear hang but rather to be tied around something like a tree. The material will prevent a bear from getting into it. Most of the time, I don't worry about bears but mini bears (mice, raccoons and other rodents) those suckers will eat through anything to get to food which leads me to the next piece of gear the OPsack. These are vital as they reduce the smells of whatever it contains significantly. I use them for food and for any other smelling thing like toothpaste and sunscreen.
Anti Chafing wax (contact lens case)
The toothbrush is from PetSmart. Its a dog finger toothbrush. Before you say eww try it. Its light, dries fast and keeps clean easily.
The contact lens case contains the anti-chafing wax/butter stuff. Many hikers use it between toes and thighs and wherever skin rubs on skin.
The white bottle is a Tang water enhancer container filled with Dr. Bronners soap. The soap is amazing and has multi purposes. It washes dishes, you and your clothes. I did try using it for shampoo and um nope don't ever do that.
Toilet Kit: Kept in backpack's brain
Pee rag (yellow bandanna)
Bidet (Tang water enhancer filled with water)
Toilet paper folded
The GoGirl is a female urinary device that allows women to urinate standing up without getting everything wet. I have it in my car as well and carry it in my purse when I am at an event where those horrible porta potties. Oh and no you can't write your name in the snow. Oh and you should practice in the shower first - come on you know you've peed in the shower before!
First Aid Kit:
Benadryl pen (for mosquito bites)
Adhesive bandages (various)
Triangular bandages (2)
Antihistamine pills (generic)
Dental wax or sugarless gum for dental emergencies
I strongly recommend you take a Standard First Aid if not a Wilderness Course before heading out in the backcountry. You should adjust your first aid kit according to the type of trip number of people in your group and possible injuries that may occur.
Duct tape wrapped hotel card
Mini Bic lighter
GPS with extra batteries
Phone charger (holds 2 charges)
Headlamp with batteries
Ziplite on keychain (in case you have to change your headlamp batteries at night, so a second source of light)
Lip balm, Sunscreen, Bug spray
Garbage bags (2)
Ziplocs (a few)
So far I am enjoying the Unlostify maps. There are only a few and the highly anticipated Algonquin map should be coming out soon.
How much does this weigh?
Everything above with the pack weighs 20 lbs or 9 kilograms. This doesn't include your water, food or clothing plus whatever you are wearing and carrying.
Roughly a liter of water at room temperature will weigh 2.2lbs or 1 kilogram. I carry at least 2 liters so 4.4 lbs or 2 kilograms.
Food is a science. I plan for about 1 lb of food per day. This is a topic for a whole other post or even a plethora of posts. 7 days food = 7 lbs or 3 kilograms.
Total weight of my pack for a 7 day backpacking trip would be around 35 lbs or 16 kilograms factoring in clothes. Certainly not ultralight but average. The pack gets lighter everyday as you eat your way through your food!
This post lists the backpacking gear I use on a regular basis with the rationale behind it.
You may get a PDF of the list here for your enjoyment.
Total weight of gear is 20 lbs/9 kilos
Total weight of gear with food, water and clothes is 35 lbs/16 k
Wow what a long post to get to those 4 lines.
Let me know what you think!