Fitness. Good physical fitness can help in evacuating faster if necessary, getting help and having more fun.
Light Weight. The lighter you travel on backpacking trips, the more enjoyable is the journey. Spend more to buy the best light gear including pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and down jackets. Think of eating cold food on short (4 day or less can skip stoves, pots). Some unnecessary items are guidebooks, electronics, extra shoes, jeans or almost anything cotton.
Layer with Synthetics. Cotton kills. Wear synthetics or merino. They dry quickly and are light weight. Several layers allow adjusting clothes for optimal comfort depending on activity and weather. Adjust layers to avoid sweating. Always keep thick tops dry and don’t hike in down. Light rain shells and vests are useful. Long underwear or tights, with or without shorts are lighter and insulate better than pants.
Gloves & Hats. Because your body loses most of its heat through your head and extremities, always carry both. Try both thin, synthetic gloves for hiking and thick, fleece gloves that stay dry. Toques, headbands, puffs, and brimmed hats for shade are all useful.
Trekking poles. Long, steep ascents and descents are all much less punishing on your body with poles. Speed and endurance improve. Carrying heavy packs, wading streams, traversing steep slopes and negotiating rough trails are all easier with poles. They prevent ankle strains. Black Diamond makes the best.
Bandanas. Possibly the only cotton object in your pack, they are useful as sweat bands, sun protection, bandage or emergency sling, wet to cool down or a hundred other uses. Bring two.
Small & Essential Items. Matches, lighter, fire starter. Survival bag (leaf bag, special hiking bag with reflective surfaces), headlamp, compass, insect repellent, blister prevention (Moleskin, Spenco, duct tape), sunglasses, sunscreen and brimmed hat.
Keep It All Dry with plastic bag pack liners or good rain cover. Try Aqua-Quest waterproof, nylon organizers.
Water. Drink frequently – you should never really be thirsty. Figure out the method of sterilizing, or not, that best suits you.
Food. Hiking is not the time to lose weight. Some protein and fat sustains energy, complex carbohydrates, energy bars are all good. On day hikes, carry fresh or dried fruit and pita with tabouli, hummus, avocado, cucumber and sprouts and tortilla chips. For breakfast, try margarine. maple syrup and cinnamon on whole-grain bread. Real food is heavier but works if can eliminate pots, stoves and fuel. If longer than four days, stoves are useful.
There are many lists but this is mine. They are arranged in a relative order of importance and would allow one to survive overnight if necessary (imagine that you have broken your leg, can’t be rescued that day, and have to spend the night outside – what would you need to survive in relative comfort?). That should determine the essence of any list.
1. Water. It is hard to survive without a water source. One can go several days without eating.
2. Signalling mirror/Emergency Locator Beacon. A mirror is the best simple way to signal help as it can be seen from a long distance especially from the air. Whistles are of less use as sound does not travel well. Emergency locator beacons are obviously the best things to have if help is needed. One of the best is the De Lorme Inreach, a 2 way satellite communicator with 2 way texting for SOS and personal communication. It sends up to three pre-loaded messages, SOS in emergencies, and has automatic location tracking every 10 minutes. When coupled with the De Lorme Earthmate PN-60W GPS, it allows outbound and inbound messages with it’s internal keyboard and message screen. This also has De Lorme Topo maps for all of North America. Cell phones, UHF Radios, walkie talkies and satellite phones (very heavy and thus impractical) have value depending on location. Lighting a safe fire is useful 24 hours a day.
3. Large garbage bag. A large orange leaf bag can serve as an emergency shelter and increase visibility. A bivy sack may be a better option but is much heavier. The Integral Designs 8’x10’ Siltarp 2 is another light great choice.
4. Warm clothing. The amount varies with the season but every pack should have a warm jacket (down is light and warm but shouldn’t get wet), rain jacket and pants, long underwear, touque, gloves, and neck warmer. A light sleeping bag would be nice (the Western Mountaineering Ultralite weighs less than one pound).
5. Seat cushion. Keeps your bottom warm and off the ground. Thermarest seats are best but closed cell foam pads also work well.
6. Map and compass. If your GPS fails (batteries run out), a compass is invaluable. It is worthless if the declination is not known. 1:50,000 topographical maps should be carried on every hike.
7. Fire. Fire starter, matches, lighter
8. Food. Ideally should carry an extra day’s food, 1000 extra calories over and above that days food would be a minimum.
9. First Aid Kit. Athletic tape, pain killers and steristrips with bandaids would be a minimum.
10. Insect Repellent. DEET is safe and the best consistently effective repellent.
11. Flashlight. LED headlamp best. Spare batteries. A must if you have to walk in the dark which is not unusual.
12. Knife. Multipurpose tool like a Leatherman with pliers may be better than a Swiss Army Knife but are very heavy and may not have many actual uses (cutting off arm if trapped by a rock). Keep blade sharp.
13. Sun protection. Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip protector with sunscreen.
14. Nylon cord. Useful for many things.
15. Keys and Identification.
16. Pack. One large enough to hold all this stuff. I like the 38 liter Deuter Futura.
17. Common Sense.
DAY HIKING LIST
Deuter Futura 38 liter
Toilet paper, lighter in plastic bag, shovel
Compass, signaling mirror, whistle,
SA knife or Leatherman
Lip with sunscreen
Salt and pepper
GPS and Emergency Location Beacon
Sunglasses Eyeglass side pieces (if on glaciers)
Side pocket 1
Mitts or wool gloves, neck warmer, toque, nylon overmitts
Side pocket 2
Large leaf bag
Siltarp 2 – 8×10 feet
Long johns merino
Nylon rain pants
Long sleeved shirt
First aid. Bandaids, kling, steri strips, regular Medications, moleskin or other
blister preparation, clippers, scissors
Water bottles, water bladder
SteriPEN water purifier
This list is complete and should be tailored to the trip.
Backpack. Deuter Futura 50 or Osprey Aether
Serratus Genie daypack
Tent: MSR Hubba or Hubba Hubba
Sleeping bag, stuff sacks, pillow, long bottoms,
Exped down mat
MSR Dragonfly, spare parts, screens, bag, fuel bottle with pump Fuel bottle spares. Amount
depends on trip
Cooking pots, Campsuds, scrubber, gripper, diffuser, cup, tin foil, bag
Utensils: spoons, serrated knife, knife, fork, flipper, strainer, sharp knife
Bowl, cup, spoon, knife, net bag Lighter
Water: bottles-1L,1/2L, Platypus, water carrier
Plastic sandwich box Egg box
Hygiene, first aid, personal
First aid: bandaids, kling, cortisone, moleskin, Blister preparation, tweezers
Toothbrush and paste, floss, comb, scissors, clippers, medication, lip screen, sunscreen
Toilet paper, lighter, trowel
Swiss army knife or Leatherman
Mirror, light cord, compass
GPS, Emergency locator beacon
Sunscreen, lip screen.
Insect repellant (only DEET works)
Money (US, Canadian), credit cards, ID, Drivers License, Keys
Hats: baseball, Tilley
Long sleeved shirt
Goretex, Marmot Precip
Underwear: poly Hiking shorts
Nylon long pants Rain pants
Socks: Ultramax, heavy
Hiking shoes, boots, wading
Toque, neck warmer, mitts, nylon overmitts
Note book and pen
Water purifier. SteriPEN Booze Headlamp
Bags: ziplock, garbage, dirty clothes,
Camera, chips, batteries, tripod
Batteries: headlight, camera
Maps, hike description Book
Harness, carabiners, descender
Inner tube, bicycle pump, valve remover (to float pools)
Breakfast: granola, powdered milk, coffee, hot chocolate, tea
Lunch: cream cheese, tuna, cold cuts, hummus and vegys, couscous, bread, Wasa
Dinner: refer to dehydrating and recipes, freeze dried, or home made dehydrated
Snacks: granola bars, currants, dried fruit, chocolate bars
Staples: salt and pepper, margarine tube, jam tube, oil, spices
Drink: coffee instant, hot chocolate, sugar, tea, drink mix
Chickenwire for car