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  1. #1

    Default Packing List Basics Part 1

    PACKING LIST BASICS

    fficeffice" />>>

    What to bring? What not to bring? Some things are essential. Some things are not. Some packs are light. Some are heavy. Sometimes you bring something you wish you didn’t, sometimes you don’t bring something you wish did. What you do eventually bring is a personal choice but there is nothing like good planning and good choices to make sure your hike is enjoyable. Remember this: A failure to plan is a plan to fail.>>

    >>

    Generally, most “experts” agree that there are 10 things you never leave home without:>>

    1. map>>

    2. compass>>

    3. extra clothing>>

    4. fire starter>>

    5. matches>>

    6. sunglasses and sunscreen>>

    7. extra food, including water and a way to purify it>>

    8. pocket knife>>

    9. first aid kit>>

    10. flashlight>>

    >>

    I say “experts” because a lot of people seem to think that they are the “expert”. They all have their own opinion on what is essential or not. Even I do. Lightweight hiker “experts” might cut the essentials list in half, or less! Survival “experts” might include an additional 2 or 3 things for every item listed above. >>

    >>

    A LOOK AT THE TOP 10 ESSENTIALS>>

    >>

    What you pack depends on your planning, your experience and simply how much you can or are willing to carry. For example, I rarely bushwhack so I almost never carry a compass. If needed, I can usually get my bearings by the sun or using a map and terrain associating. Therefore I almost always have a map and/or photocopies of a trail guide. (I used to carry a GPS, but it seems that more often than not I have had trouble getting a signal, so now it stays at home. But I love my therm-a-rest chair!)>>

    >>

    Extra clothing will be dependant on the weather and your environment. Since much of the AT traverses through mountains and mountain weather can change suddenly, a set of dry clothes or wet weather gear goes with me. I will take up to 3 pairs of sox (and liners) depending on how many days I am out. Happy feet means happy trails; if your putting in dozens or hundreds of miles on a trip, you have to take care of your feet. Remember: planning, experience and knowledge are your friends. Know your environment.>>

    >>

    A small Bic lighter may be better to ignite your fire starter than damp matches. I’ve used windproof matches that I got at REI. They burn like a 4th of July sparkler! Fire starter is easily obtained commercially and naturally. If gathering fire starter from the woods, remember Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics. Use what is on the ground. Besides, a green living tree is a lot harder to get burning.>>

    I have never used sunglasses and sunscreen in the woods. I get all the shade I need from trees. Again, if you are planning above tree line hiking, these might be good to bring along. I leave these at home.>>

    >>

    I generally don’t bring “extra” food but always seem to have some in my pack when I get off the trail anyway. If I were thru hiking or doing 15 to 20 miles a day I would probably gobble up what I have. Water is another matter. I tend to be paranoid about running out of water. For extended trips I usually start with a 5-liter dromedary that is full. That’s about 10 pounds of weight but I constantly sip the drinking tube while moving. Also, your body can’t last as long without water as it can without food. The dromedary is also useful in camp. I usually fill it up when I get to a shelter or campsite and there is plenty to drink and cook with until morning.>>

    >>

    The lightest way to purify water is to not purify it at all, but that isn’t recommended, especially when water sources are of a poor quality. Who’s to say the quality is good or not? Another option is using chemicals, like iodine tablets. Fortunately for me, the iodine taste does not make me gag. For extra weight and a lot more cost, there are a variety of water pump/purifiers. The safest way to purify, but also burn fuel, is to boil the water. Different sources claim different lengths of time to “boil” the water. According to The Complete Walker IV by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins, a 2-minute boil should kill anything. This 800 plus page book contains so much information it hurts to read! You can find it at www.rei.com >>

    >>

    My pocketknife of choice is a swiss army knife (the fieldmaster model, I think). It has all the gadgets I need. I’ve even used the saw to cut firewood! Next to the map, water and first aid kit, this is my most important item.>>

    >>

    It is hard to say which of the essential items is the most essential, but the top of the list includes a first aid kit. It should contain gauze pads and a gauze roll, band aids, alcohol swabs, butterfly closures, a triangular bandage, pain killers (ibuprofen works great for me!), adhesive tape, ace bandage, moleskin, tweezers, small scissors, safety pins and personal medications if needed. (My swiss army knife has scissors and tweezers on it). A small first aid manual wouldn’t hurt either if you don’t actually have the knowledge to use the kit. Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Eric Weiss is pocket sized and cost about $7. It can be found at www.campmor.com >>

    >>

    The last essential is a flashlight. I normally use a mini-mag lite that is used mostly for reading after dark. I’ve only stealth hiked one time, but was glad I did since as soon as I got to a shelter it started raining. The mini-mag was enough to light the trail and see blazes. I also have a tiny Black Diamond headlamp, which weighs much less. On occasion, I may pack along a Coleman Excursion lantern.>>


    There are a number of different pieces of equipment that are available for the 10 essentials. What you get, that is how much you want to carry, is up to you. A good choice for a piece of equipment is one that has multiple uses, such as the trusty swiss army knife. It cuts moleskin, removes ticks, produces fire starter, slices pepperoni, cuts tie down and many other things. I am not a lightweight fanatic so I could probably trim a few pounds here and there. I’m usually at about 35 pounds before food and water is added.

  2. #2

    Default

    PACKING LIST BASICS

    What to bring? What not to bring? Some things are essential. Some things are not. Some packs are light. Some are heavy. Sometimes you bring something you wish you didn’t, sometimes you don’t bring something you wish did. What you do eventually bring is a personal choice but there is nothing like good planning and good choices to make sure your hike is enjoyable. Remember this: A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

    Generally, most “experts” agree that there are 10 things you never leave home without:\

    1. map

    2. compass

    3. extra clothing

    4. fire starter

    5. matches

    6. sunglasses and sunscreen

    7. extra food, including water and a way to purify it

    8. pocket knife

    9. first aid kit

    10. flashlight

    I say “experts” because a lot of people seem to think that they are the “expert”. They all have their own opinion on what is essential or not. Even I do. Lightweight hiker “experts” might cut the essentials list in half, or less! Survival “experts” might include an additional 2 or 3 things for every item listed above.



    A LOOK AT THE TOP 10 ESSENTIALS


    What you pack depends on your planning, your experience and simply how much you can or are willing to carry. For example, I rarely bushwhack so I almost never carry a compass. If needed, I can usually get my bearings by the sun or using a map and terrain associating. Therefore I almost always have a map and/or photocopies of a trail guide. (I used to carry a GPS, but it seems that more often than not I have had trouble getting a signal, so now it stays at home. But I love my therm-a-rest chair!)

    Extra clothing will be dependant on the weather and your environment. Since much of the AT traverses through mountains and mountain weather can change suddenly, a set of dry clothes or wet weather gear goes with me. I will take up to 3 pairs of sox (and liners) depending on how many days I am out. Happy feet means happy trails; if your putting in dozens or hundreds of miles on a trip, you have to take care of your feet. Remember: planning, experience and knowledge are your friends. Know your environment.

    A small Bic lighter may be better to ignite your fire starter than damp matches. I’ve used windproof matches that I got at REI. They burn like a 4th of July sparkler! Fire starter is easily obtained commercially and naturally. If gathering fire starter from the woods, remember Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics. Use what is on the ground. Besides, a green living tree is a lot harder to get burning.

    I have never used sunglasses and sunscreen in the woods. I get all the shade I need from trees. Again, if you are planning above tree line hiking, these might be good to bring along. I leave these at home.

    I generally don’t bring “extra” food but always seem to have some in my pack when I get off the trail anyway. If I were thru hiking or doing 15 to 20 miles a day I would probably gobble up what I have. Water is another matter. I tend to be paranoid about running out of water. For extended trips I usually start with a 5-liter dromedary that is full. That’s about 10 pounds of weight but I constantly sip the drinking tube while moving. Also, your body can’t last as long without water as it can without food. The dromedary is also useful in camp. I usually fill it up when I get to a shelter or campsite and there is plenty to drink and cook with until morning.

    The lightest way to purify water is to not purify it at all, but that isn’t recommended, especially when water sources are of a poor quality. Who’s to say the quality is good or not? Another option is using chemicals, like iodine tablets. Fortunately for me, the iodine taste does not make me gag. For extra weight and a lot more cost, there are a variety of water pump/purifiers. The safest way to purify, but also burn fuel, is to boil the water. Different sources claim different lengths of time to “boil” the water. According to The Complete Walker IV by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins, a 2-minute boil should kill anything. This 800 plus page book contains so much information it hurts to read! You can find it at www.rei.com

    My pocketknife of choice is a swiss army knife (the fieldmaster model, I think). It has all the gadgets I need. I’ve even used the saw to cut firewood! Next to the map, water and first aid kit, this is my most important item.

    It is hard to say which of the essential items is the most essential, but the top of the list includes a first aid kit. It should contain gauze pads and a gauze roll, band aids, alcohol swabs, butterfly closures, a triangular bandage, pain killers (ibuprofen works great for me!), adhesive tape, ace bandage, moleskin, tweezers, small scissors, safety pins and personal medications if needed. (My swiss army knife has scissors and tweezers on it). A small first aid manual wouldn’t hurt either if you don’t actually have the knowledge to use the kit. Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Eric Weiss is pocket sized and cost about $7. It can be found at www.campmor.com

    The last essential is a flashlight. I normally use a mini-mag lite that is used mostly for reading after dark. I’ve only stealth hiked one time, but was glad I did since as soon as I got to a shelter it started raining. The mini-mag was enough to light the trail and see blazes. I also have a tiny Black Diamond headlamp, which weighs much less. On occasion, I may pack along a Coleman Excursion lantern.

    There are a number of different pieces of equipment that are available for the 10 essentials. What you get, that is how much you want to carry, is up to you. A good choice for a piece of equipment is one that has multiple uses, such as the trusty swiss army knife. It cuts moleskin, removes ticks, produces fire starter, slices pepperoni, cuts tie down and many other things. I am not a lightweight fanatic so I could probably trim a few pounds here and there. I’m usually at about 35 pounds before food and water is added.

    titanium_hiker
    I put my words in quotes. I have taken the liberty of removing the funky characters- I hope you don't mind. nice article!
    just call me TH
    woman with altitude

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by titanium_hiker
    PACKING LIST BASICS

    What to bring? What not to bring? Some things are essential. Some things are not. Some packs are light. Some are heavy. Sometimes you bring something you wish you didn’t, sometimes you don’t bring something you wish did. What you do eventually bring is a personal choice but there is nothing like good planning and good choices to make sure your hike is enjoyable. Remember this: A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

    Generally, most “experts” agree that there are 10 things you never leave home without:\

    1. map

    2. compass

    3. extra clothing

    4. fire starter

    5. matches

    6. sunglasses and sunscreen

    7. extra food, including water and a way to purify it

    8. pocket knife

    9. first aid kit

    10. flashlight
    A couple comments from what I have learned in the last three years of lightweight hiking, specificaly for the AT:

    I carry a data source (pages from a trail guide or Mapdana) but no longer carry a compass.

    My extra clothing for summer consists of one pair of socks, a pair of sealskinz socks, a long sleeve top, and a pair of long wool pants This is good to about 50 degree nightime temps (May through September in the south). I have lost more pack weight by eliminating extra clothing than anything.

    I now carry a little bottle of alcohol, an altoids tin candle, and 1/3rd of a magnesium fire starter. No matches, no lighter, no other fire starter material (except for the knife I use to form the spark). I use the alcohol to start the candle from a spark, and then use the candle to start a stove, a twig fire, or just use the candle as light. This is more for my own self discipline than it is technically necessary. A small lighter makes it a little easier to start the candle, but I know that my system will ALWAYS work. I have had lighters and matches fail at some of the most frustrating times.

    Once the leaves come out, I don't find much need of sunscreen in the south. Sunscreen is useful in the fall and early spring when the trees are bare, to protect my arms and legs. It is also useful at least in the Whites, and perhaps on some of that trail north of there that I have not seen yet.

    For summer, I have found a little LED squeeze light is enough. For spring and fall, it is nice to have a headlight for reading once the sun has gone down and I am not yet sleepy.

    First Aid kit: as a doctor, I skimp a lot here. I carry about 3 feet of duct tape, motrin, a few erythromycin (antibiotic) tablets and my brain. As with any other part of lightweight hiking, the more one knows and the more experience, the less it is necessary to carry. (In contrast to posts from some other medical folks I have seen on the list, I do not carry a kit to take care of others)

    Knife: I carry a short fixed blade knife (3 in blade) in a sheath around my neck - maybe I am the only hiker out there that does this. I use the knife for sparks to start a fire, cutting fire wood , splitting fire wood (think of a froe), carving toothpicks, cooking, and making conversation. I have been known to make a pair of hiking poles, make shavings for tinder, and open packages with it. It is with me 24/7 and would be the most important piece of survival gear I carry if I were separated from my pack for some unforseen reason.
    Walk Well,
    Risk

    Author of "A Wildly Successful 200-Mile Hike"
    http://www.wayahpress.com

    Personal hiking page: http://www.imrisk.com

  4. #4
    Frieden and Ed - World Explorer Team frieden's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Taz1
    According to The Complete Walker IV by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins, a 2-minute boil should kill anything. This 800 plus page book contains so much information it hurts to read! You can find it at www.rei.com >>.
    I've read every book, Website, journal, and forum I could get my hands on, in prep. for this AT thru hike. We carry one "The Complete Walker IV" at work (it doesn't sell), so I read it. It was one of the worst books I've read. Is there a reason you recommend it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by frieden
    We carry one "The Complete Walker IV" at work (it doesn't sell), so I read it. It was one of the worst books I've read. Is there a reason you recommend it?
    I used to love his first three editions in their time. He's thorough and a great writer. The fourth one has a co-author who's a boring writer, but more importantly he hasn't taken to light and ultralight techniques and has become very out of date. I wouldn't buy this book today.

  6. #6
    Frieden and Ed - World Explorer Team frieden's Avatar
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    Thanks. I'll try to find one of the earlier editions.

  7. #7
    GA-VA 2005, VA-CT 2007, CT-ME ??
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    I agree. Complete Walker IV was mighty disappointing. I read it cover-to-cover and wasn't really impressed with it. It's a comprehensive tome of ideas that aren't too new and gear that I wouldn't use. Maybe a good book 'back in the day,' but it's past its prime.
    -Mark

  8. #8

    Default

    I did say The Complete Walker IV hurts to read. I think there is too much information in it but it covers virtually everything you might need (or not need) to know. The best teacher is experience.

  9. #9

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    I missed the 1st three volumes of The Complete Walker. Personally, I am have little knowledge on ultra-light techniques. I assumed Packing List Basics was meant to cover the basics. I am would not recommend The Complete Walker to anybody seeking lightweight hiking advice.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taz1
    I did say The Complete Walker IV hurts to read. I think there is too much information in it but it covers virtually everything you might need (or not need) to know. The best teacher is experience.
    That was sort of my read on it. I had heard great things about the book series so I couldn't wait to get a copy. What I personally found was a book that was so much information about a gear that it is possibly obsolete by the time you buy it. And as for the information about backpacking, a Google search can get you about the same information as is in the book. My conclusion is that when Colin Fletcher started writing the books, it was a needed resource. But as the Internet has developed you can find the same info, more up to date, from a wider variety of viewpoints, and in an easy to query and search with a browser, Google, and a connection than you can reading the books.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

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    Default Re: Flyfisher's "..I no longer carry a compass"

    Well, one time hiking solo on an unexpectedly foggy, sleety mountain top, over timberline, I got turned around and couldn't see the cairns or the next blaze. After a few panicky moments, I remembered the compass and the trail map, and was able to line everything up and head in the right direction to pick up the next cairn. Whew.
    Doesn't happen often, but then a compass doesn't weigh much, either.
    That little episode earned my compass a permanent ride in my pack.
    V8
    -lyk2hyk

  12. #12

    Default

    In my First Aid kit I also carry my survivial kit,space blanket1oz, fire starter 1/2oz, envolope of coco @ 1cup of soup total 2ozs,, matches, a pice of aluminum foil, sew in kit, all in a quart ziplock. Total of both kits 10ozs. The fire starter , 2" of a used candel wrap in wax paper 4"x4" then ceter the candle roll up @ twist the end. Winter is a good time to make them, I also put 1 or two w/my cook things in case it's raining to get the fire going qucker.

  13. #13

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    The "packing list basics" is an interesting excercise. But if you were to start from scratch, would you come up with the same list? If I was dropped into the woods right now, what would be absolutely essential? Here's what I'd want - in order of preference...

    1) Warm, dry clothing. Without this, in cold or cool, wet weather, you may be sunk.

    2) Water. I can live without food for a bit, but without water problems arise within a few hours.

    3) Map. If I know where I am, I'm in control.

    4) Food. I really like it, and it keeps the spirits up.

    For a longer period, something to make a fire with would be great. And so would instant coffee.
    Last edited by futureatwalker; 12-18-2007 at 15:58.

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    I love Colin Fletcher. I prefer the older "The New Complete Walker" to the latest addition. The co-author is too New Agie for me but he does have some good advice on low impact camping.
    My solo first aid kit has about the same equipment as the other physician's but when I am in a larger group, I take more of the same. Except maybe cipro instead of e-mycin and dermabond. The best wound prep is irrigation anyway.
    Last edited by mkmangold; 12-13-2007 at 22:06. Reason: spelling

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkmangold View Post
    I love Colin Fletcher. I prefer the older "The New Complete Walker" to the latest addition. The co-author is too New Agie for me but he does have some good advice on low impact camping.
    My solo first aid kit has about the same equipment as the other physician's but when I am in a larger group, I take more of the same. Except maybe cipro instead of e-mycin and dermabond.

    The best wound prep is irrigation anyway.
    This brings to mind a question I have pondered: Is it OK to cleanse wounds with iodine- treated and bleach- treated water? Maybe the chemicals could even be beneficial, but are there drawbacks? I have used tapwater carried im my canteen, used boiled- water, even creek- water that "looked pretty clean".

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    Iodine/bleach treated water could do tissue damage if it is not very dilute. Irrigation is the single best way to "flush" out pathogens, but using potentially unsafe water could put more pathogens into a wound. hydrogen peroxide & water, (50%) is great for puncture wounds, but adds weight.

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    Why is there not a tent or sleeping bag or mattress on the list?

    Panzer

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    I would think that water treated with iodine and allowed to outgas would be ok, both sanitary and less destructive of tissue. Long time ago I learned that iodine, in that case a betadine prep, is ok for sterilizing intact skin prior to surgery but destructive of tissue in an open wound. The last study I read said there was little difference in bacterial load after cleansing with water, normal saline, or water/antibacterial mix. The take-home-message was irrigation, irrigation, irrigation.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panzer1 View Post
    Why is there not a tent or sleeping bag or mattress on the list?

    Panzer
    Because you think of these itemes yourself. The list is showing the things that should be in your backpack always.

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    Quote Originally Posted by futureatwalker View Post
    The "packing list basics" is an interesting excercise. But if you were to start from scratch, would you come up with the same list? If I was dropped into the woods right now, what would be absolutely essential? Here's what I'd want - in order of preference...

    1) Warm, dry clothing. Without this, in cold or cool, wet weather, you may be sunk.

    2) Water. I can live without food for a bit, but without water problems arise within a few hours.

    3) Map. If I know where I am, I'm in control.

    4) Food. I really like it, and it keeps the spirits up.

    For a longer period, something to make a fire with would be great. And so would instant coffee.
    As long as I have clothes on I think my necessities would be much shorter.

    I would want 3 items:

    1. Common Sense

    2. A knife

    3. A ferrocerrium Rod

    And I could get by with the first 2 the third is more or less convienience.

    Aslong as you have clothes on whether wet or dry with the knife you can procure what you need to make a fire and dry the clothes. The ferro rod would just make it easier to start the fire vs. making a fire bow, fire saw, or fire plow. The knife allows you to get tinder, and all stages of fire wood and allows you the ability to make a shelter to stay warm from the cold and dry from the rain. And if your in the woods more than likely there is a stream somewhere near by with drinkable water at least that's the case in my neck of the woods. Despite this my survival kit is quite a bit more extensive than a ferro rod and a knife. But for the most part it does all fit in a 1 quart Ziploc bag and although I haven't weighed it I would say it's under 2 pounds, comparing it to a 2 pound dumbell of my wifes.

    First Aid Kit
    Tweezers
    Latex Gloves

    3 Tongue Depressors
    Benadryl Tablets
    4 Alcohol Pads
    Band-Aids
    4 4x4 Gauze Pads
    4 2x2 Gauze Pads
    Mole Skin
    Super Glue
    Butterfly Closures
    4 Knuckle Bandages
    4 Fingertip Bandages
    Hemorrhoid Suppository
    Ibuprofen
    Rolaids
    Sport Tape
    Micro Pore Tape
    Elastic Bandage
    Triple Antibiotic Ointment
    Imodium

    Survival Kit
    4 Needles
    7 Safety Pins
    Thread
    8 Twist Ties
    Small Signal Mirror
    Whistle
    Emergency Blanket
    2 Light Sticks
    Pocket Chainsaw
    Small Ferocerrium Rod
    Single Edge Razor Blade
    Duct Tape
    12 Snares
    Fishing Kit
    ˝ oz Bleach
    Finger Nail Clippers
    Buck Prince Knife Folder

    Other Items I have on me or in my pack include a trailhawk axe with a ferrocerrium rod in the handle, a pill bottle of vaseline cotton balls, a military rain poncho and a liner for it, an army casualty blanket, a larger knife, and a couple bandannas. these items are not included in the 2 pound weight but I believe the firstaid/survival kit would be pretty darn self sufficient. One thing I might add as a sugestion from another hiker would be a women's sanitary napkin to the first aid kit to stop major bleeding. However I probably will not because I'm quite happy with the kit as it is.
    Lad I don't know where you've been. But, I see you won first prize!

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