Personal Gear Browse through your Boy Scout Handbook or Field Manual. Find the check list. Even experienced backpackers and campers will forget something if they don’t use a check list. Compare the list to the gear that you already own. Make sure that you have everything that you would need for a 3 to 4 day excursion. If you have heavy obsolete equipment it’s a good idea to replace it with newer lightweight gear. Weight is death to a backpacker. If you can shed just 5 or 10 pounds from your pack it will make a world of difference. Keep in mind that water is the heaviest item that you will pack and it’s the most important.
Suggested Personal Use Camping Gear
Internal or external frame, which ever you feel more comfortable using. Advantages to an external frame is it’s easier to lash equipment to and they are cooler as there is an air space between the wearer and the pack. 3500 – 4500 is a good size for a week long excursion. It will have a large main compartment, a top flap with storage, a lower sleeping bag compartment, side pockets for miscellaneous gear and water bottle pockets
- Day pack or Rucksack
A good quality day pack can be purchased for between $25.00 and $40.00. Don’t rely on a school pack. Buy a good one with padded shoulder straps and a hip strap. When hiking high peaks you will usually set a base camp and day hike to the summit. You’ll be carrying food water and emergency gear only so there’s no need for a full size backpack.
A small one man tent is recommended for backpacking. It should be just large enough to sleep comfortably and no larger. When sleeping, there should be nothing in the tent except you, your sleeping bag and pad.
- Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are available in many styles. Choose a lightweight bag that compresses easily into a compression sack. Keep it under 5 lbs. Down is the lightest and warmest but it must be kept dry. Other options are synthetic fillers that are very good as well. An ultra lightweight bag under 2.5 lbs is recommended for summer.
- Sleeping Pad
Sleeping pads also are available in a wide range of configurations. Self inflating to closed cell foam. Closed cell foam are the lightest and roll up the smallest. Self inflating are a bit heavy but are more comfortable.
- Cooking Gear
Choose a lightweight expedition style stove that burns butane rather than propane. Butane burns much hotter at high altitude and in cold weather. Butane fuel is readily available. A lightweight mess kit will be needed. All you really need is the pot and the bowl which doubles as a lid. The rest is just fluff and is not necessary. Aluminum and stainless are inexpensive.
- Lanterns and Lights
Lightweight backpacking lanterns and candle lanterns are nice to have. Get a lantern that burns the same fuel as your stove so you only have to carry one type of fuel. L.E.D. technology has come a long way in the past few years. L.E.D. lanterns, headlamps and flashlights may be all that is needed for a weekend trip. Candle lanterns are the lightest but are for outdoor use only. Never in your tent!.
- Personal Hygiene
Assemble a small hygiene kit. No smelly stuff. Keep in a small diddy bag that can be stuffed in a small pack pocket. It should contain: Toothpaste and brush, meds, a wash cloth, bio-degradable camp soap and TP. Anything else is just dead weight that is not necessary.
- First Aid
Nothing fancy. A standard Scout kit is all that you need. Smaller the better.
Have a standard compass and a map of the area that your visiting. Study the map prior to heading out to become familiar with the area.
- Emergency Kit
Emergency matches, lighter, fire starter, whistle, gloves, lightweight spade for digging, pocket knife or multi-tool. Rain gear and a pack cover should also be included.
Nalgene bottles with a threaded top are best. They have a wide mouth and are designed with the same threads as most water purifiers. They can be used as storage containers when empty. Water purifiers are a must as long as there is a water supply where your hiking such as a pond, stream or lake. Even a muddy footprint will do in a pinch if you wrap the siphon end in a coffee filter before pumping. This will eliminate the bigger impurities from clogging the initial screen filter.
Dehydrated food is the way to go. Lightweight and non-perishable. It’s just a couple bucks more but well worth it. Complete meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner are under $6.00 each. You can purchase some items at any grocery store. Bring plenty of high protein snacks like Powerbars, nuts, jerky and trail mix because you’ll be burning tons of calories while hiking. Stay away from sweets. Nalgene bottles make great storage containers for fragile foods like crackers and can be filled with water when emptied.