(for discussion about individual
pieces of gear & clothing see lists in What We Take With Us)
- Get good gear. Durability & comfort are
superior. (I once hiked five miles with an old, broken Boy Scout pack & it was the
most miserable trip of my life.) You can rent good gear from outdoor shops so you
can try out different items before making an investment. Ask your friends for advice
& check out the discussion forums at
Magazine Base Camp.
- Think light -- find lighter replacements for heavy
gear, trim excess, use plastic instead of metal, dry instead of wet, etc.
- Pack backpack with heaviest items on top &
closest to your back. Adjust your pack so most of the weight is carried on your hips, not
- Develop a system for packing things (esp. 1st aid
kit, rain gear, flashlight, etc.) in the same place every time so you know where it is
& don't have to search for it. Keep things you need access to in outside pockets.
- Put sleeping bags & tents in the sunlight (if
possible) to dry before breaking camp. Hang them on the clothesline in your backyard for
24 hours after each trip to air them out, fluff them up, & drying them out completely.
- Use a hiking staff -- great for keeping your
balance, fording small streams on slippery rocks, warding off snakes & other critters,
& gives you an extra push with each step.
- Use clear, wide mouthed bottles -- easy to fill,
easy to clean, great for re-hydrating dried food, such things as spoons & ice cubes fit
easily. On the trail we use water bottles with a spout & in camp we use a Platypus
- Carry a small roll of duct tape -- a 1,000 uses from
mending gear to makeshift knee braces
- Pack fuel & water bottles upright on outside of
pack -- fuel will contaminate food & clothing, water will get everything soggy.
- Use a sleeping pad -- not only is it more
comfortable, it also insulates you from the ground
- Wear loose clothes in layers. Put on or take off
layers according to weather.
- Cotton is NOT good for backpacking. It's heavy,
provides no warmth when cold, takes forever to dry, & doesn't wick moisture away from
the body. Jeans chafe.
- In cool weather we wear:
- Wicking long underwear (polyester) --
"wicks" moisture away from body to outer layers
- Polyester fleece shirt/pants (Polartec 200)
-- light, soft, very warm even when wet, dries quickly
- Nylon shell -- breathable, water resistant,
- In warm weather we wear:
- Wicking t-shirt (polyester)
- Nylon shorts -- lightweight, quick drying
- Always have a dry pair of socks handy. Wet socks are
uncomfortable, cause blisters, & make your feet cold. We wear good wool socks with a
wicking liner sock to keep our feet warm & dry.
- Baseball caps are great -- the brim shields your
face from the sun, sheds rain water away from your head, & they turn with your head. A
wool stocking cap will keep your head warm & roll down over your ears.
- A two-piece, breathable rain suit is essential. Rain
ponchos catch the wind & don't usually protect your lower legs (they are good for
covering your pack, making a tarp, ground cover, & squatting around the campfire). PVC
or plastic rain gear doesn't breath & will make you sweaty & hot if you're moving