Sunday, July 12, 2015

List:01 10 Essentials

When packing for a trip, it's always easiest to work from a checklist. As soon as you return, make note of what you did not need or use and consider leaving it behind the next time. Same thing goes for some gadget you toted along and only used because you had carried it the whole time. Also, make note of what you did need or are running low on and be sure it's on the list for next time.

There are 10 essentials that should be packed for every single trip. The list was created to ensure hikers would have a way to bail themselves out of most situations. These are not in order of importance.
1. Illumination
2. First Aid
3. Nutrition
4. Fire starter
5. Knife
6. Hydration
7. Insulation
8. Navigation
9. Sun Protection
10. Emergency Shelter

    1. Illumination:
    Flashlight, headlamp, backpacking lantern-it does not matter as long as you have a way to light the darkness. LED bulbs of course, use much less battery life. If there is any chance you will be in a cave, have 2 sources of light. Even just a tiny flashlight on your key ring or as a zipper pull on your pack can save the day. Night. Trip.

    2. First Aid:
    The lists for this vary and reading what individuals take is like a checklist of their worst fears. When the kids were young, I carried a full 2 pounds of first aid gear even on day hikes!
    Now, I carry Tylenol (Vitamin I), bandaids (all waterproof, 3 sizes, a dozen total) and antibiotic ointment. Moleskin and tiny very sharp nail scissors, a sports wrap, tweezers and a couple Benedryl. I have never needed anything beyond this list. I also carry a tiny plastic thermometer strip that is heat activated which I have never used, but can't seem to ditch.
    A whistle is always good to have along, 3 toots at a time is a signal for help.

    3. Nutrition:
    More on food in general below, this is the essentails list for every hike and on every hike you need a couple protein bars, some trail mix (with nuts and dried fruit at least) or some other calorie-dense snacks, enough so that if you are stuck out overnight, you can have something to eat. If you need a calorie count, 1200 is what I go for, that's what you will burn walking 10 miles on easy terrain at a 2.5 MPH clip. If you know you will be walking up hills, running, climbing or out when it's below 40 degrees, take more calories.

    4. Fire Starter:
    Flint and steel, lighter, waterproof matches-your choice. Some folks like to have along something to get the fire burning, a film canister filled with dryer lint soaked in parafin or a small fuel tablet are good choices. Always store it in a waterproof baggie.

    5. Knife:
    I will go one more level here and suggest a multi-tool with a good blade or as a seperate item altogether. The knife will be useful in obvious ways, but small pliers can come in all kinds of handy for repairs and while on repairs, a strip of Gorilla tape (it's waterproof) can save the whole trip. People wrap it around their hiking poles or water bottles, but I just carry the remainder of a one inch roll in my kit, 2 feet max.

    6. Hydration:
    Extra water or a way to purify water along the route. Tablets are the lightest way and have come a long way in the past few years. They used to leave your water orange tinted and tasting funky. Now they have neutralizers you add as a second step and it clears the water and the taste. It also takes about half an hour, longer if the water is cold, and up to 4 hours for cryptosporidium (Cryptosporidium is a genus of apicomplexan protozoans that can cause gastrointestinal illness with diarrhea in humans. ) . Most folks have this system as a backup, if not first choice just because it is light, cheap (under $10) and fairly fool proof.
    Filters are a good way to go, you can haul out water and hang to filter via a gravity filter, pump water through a filter into a 'clean' bottle, add a filter to your hydration line and just have 'dirty' water in your bladder or bottle or drink straight from the creek or bottle using a filter straw. Drawbacks include clogs from debris, potential damage from falls or freezing temps and back home, you have to dry them out. You need extra things in the field because there's always the chance with squeeze systems (where you collect creek water in one bag and force it through a filter to another bag for use) that the squeeze bag will break. So you need a syringe (to backflush debris) and backup bag. This method runs anywhere from $15-$90 for a group sized filter.
    UV light is new and what I use myself. It kills off everything filters filter out and more-filters can't get viruses, but the UV light kills them. Drawbacks include the fact that it runs on batteries and when it's not in the case, it's an exposed long glass bulb. Water isn't filtered, so any debris needs to be pre-filtered via a coffee filter or bandanna. These are around $80.
    Boiling the water works-kills everything. This is a good choice for water with lots of debris or that has been standing as the boiling will cause the gunk to settle at the bottom of the pot. Drawbacks include time, fuel usage and waiting for the water to cool. It's also flat after being boiled and should be poured back and forth between 2 clean containers to get some air back in there and improve the taste.

    7. Insulation:
    Protection from the elements! Rain gear, a poncho at minimum, and a jacket. Most people eliminate the jacket in summer, but a lightweight puffy packs down to nearly nothing and can add comfort like nothing else if you end up lost or injured. Being able to keep warm and dry is essential.

    8. Navigation:
    At the VERY least-a trail map, even on your phone (or take a photo at the kiosk), is better than heading out thinking you will follow this one trail or use blazes to navigate.
    Best case would be a topo map and compass (and the skill set needed to use them) and a gps.

    9. Sun protection:
    Slip, Slap, Slop is the mantra they teach in Australia to all the kiddies and it's one you should follow year round hiking anywhere. Slip on your sunglasses, slap on a sun hat and slop on the SPF. The only thing is, not in that order. Hahaha. Sunscreen first, then hat and glasses and don't forget lip balm with an SPF factor as well. A sunscreen tube, like a big chapstick, is great for your whole face, it won't run into your eyes when you sweat and can go right on your lips.

    10. Emergency shelter:
    A large trash bag and a space blanket, a bivy sack, a tube tent or a lightweight tarp. Backpackers would have some type of sleep system along, so this is more for day hiking, but always have a system in place to keep dry. None of these items weigh much at all or take up much space.

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