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My 1st gear list, looking for input


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The best backpackers are minimalists.  By nature they don't need a lot of stuff.  That is what makes the experience so worthwhile and transformative. People are always making lists and spreadsheets. I don't make a list for most trips. If I forget something it is a chance to improvise.

Truck camping with some people is just way too much work. Recently I went on a trip with a friend to Panamint Valley near Death Valley. We started out backpacking, but the trail through a creek was too brushed in with water falls.  We camped out of the truck with backpacking food. We only lit the stove in the morning for coffee.  we camped in washes in out of the way places and slept on cots. We did not even bring a tent. We parked the truck perpendicular to the afternoon sun and set up chairs in the shade with a couple of beers looking a the hills. a new kind of camping was born, "Spar camping" which is a contraction between spartan camping and car camping.  Try it sometime. 

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  • 5 years later...
Michael aka Mac

It is too bad Reflex that your link is no longer available for others to see.

  the term "Camping" has different meanings depending on the person you ask. How much gear one needs  is also relative.

An expert survivalist needs only the clothing on their back, everything else they can make, create, procure, or deduce. They can make a knife, then use that knife to make a bow and drill to make fire, and now with fire they can make gear by being able to temper the wood to make it harder like for a Bow and Arrow, or they can crate gear  from using the coals from the fire onto wood to make things such as bowls, spoons, boats. They can deduce from the sun and stars their location and have a sense of direction. 

Sure these primitive skills are useful, and I am grateful for knowing how to do these tasks, but  I am getting older and I would pissed if I had to spend all that time doing it all again at my age camping as a primitive minimalist.

So the question where this all began

 So what does a person need to bring with them on a camping trip or for survival?

Sadly there is no one answer that fits all.  I have posted suggestions and a checklist what to bring for camping or survival of which the checklist is at end of thread.

But the reality is that a everyone has a different level of experience in the outdoors.  True many of us may have gone camping our entire lives, but the actual outdoor knowledge or survival training that we know separates us into different levels, or if this was martial arts it would be different class levels divided into different color belts, white belt being novice and some sort of black belt with a series of colored stripes representing a much higher level of training.

What could a white belt do with  nunchucks? Probable give him or herself a concussion. What is the likelihood of a novice camper starting a fire with the bow n drill technique? Would he or she pick the right type of wood for the bow? for the drill? would there be enough tension in the bow? Would they stop too soon or not do the technique fast enough?

Just because you have a certain gear with you doesn't make you an expert. I have seen countless people try to start a fire with a ferro rod with laughable outcomes (their responses and not the fact that they could not get sparks).  Someone experienced with ferro rods and strikers know that some of the ferro rods you need to shave off the protected coating for one to get a spark.  Some ferro rods do not come with a striker  and well heck  it just so happens that camper has  the wrong type of metal made knife to cause a spark.

So what should one bring with them camping?

The Answer:  

You bring a tent that that is designed for the season you are in.

You bring a sleeping bag and sleeping pad that are rated for the temperature you are going to be in. 

You bring enough water to last your trip ,or at least that portion of your trip it takes to refill your water supply, 3.7 liters a day for men, 2.7 liters a day for women.

You bring a 1st aid kit and your medications.

You bring whatever form of direction finding device that you know how to use, GPS, Cell phone, or compass and map,  the one you know how to use best.

You bring rain gear, wicking clothing not cotton, and a layered clothing setup, base layer, insulating layer, outer waterproof shell.

You bring a lightweight mess kit.

You bring a lightweight stove that you know how to use with ease.

You bring a flashlight and or headlamp

You bring food.

At this point other gear and items that  more seasoned campers would bring would differ depending on their experience. 

Having knife / Bushcraft skills opens up many doors for camping and pocket knives and fixed blade knives will have great importance for these individuals. They will not only use their knife for food prep, cutting cordage, but for splitting logs, chopping wood and even for cutting down small trees and branches. Some Bushcraft skilled folks would even use their knife to make spoons  or bowls, or use their knives for making a wooden shelter.

Having repair skills is the same thing,  different gear, or multipurpose tools like a leatherman or swiss army knife would be handy. They would also be able to fix their gear so they would have a tent repair kit and sewing kit, duct tape, and other repair oriented kits.

Fishermen like myself bring a telescoping fishing rod and a mini fishing kit setup.

People that are heavy deep into cooking like myself bring a compact spice assortment and larger mess kits ( not dehydrated foods for meals)

If camping for a long time and you have carpentry skills, a hand saw and axe would be useful for making a longer term shelter.

Backpack base weight: The base weight of a backpack for those that do not know refers to the weight of your backpack fully loaded with the exception of Food, Water, & Fuel (for your stove). The suggested  Base Weight  of your pack should be no more then 10 % of your total body weight (in your B-Day suit).  In actuality that is theorizing that the person is at or below the average weight, for men is ~198 lbs. or less, and for women, 171 lbs. or less. For men and women that weigh above the average weight I suggest to use the average weight that is suggested so 198 lbs. for men 171 lbs. for women and then multiply that number by 10 % for your backpack's base weight.

The Weighing Game

To juggle between your ideal base weight for your backpack people will forgo one convenience for another depending on what they find to be most important.

For example, someone that really likes to have a variety of food for their meals may bring a lot more weight in food, spices, & condiments. In order to make their backpack lighter they need to make a compromise, which will differ from person to person depending on their skill set. For example is the individual has shelter making experience, and has Bushcraft skills, they may forgo a tent, tent stakes, tent pad, and sleeping pad and just bring a rain tarp and cordage and make a shelter using that over a raised platform to get off the cold ground. Now they can bring several more lbs. of food  without having their backpack in the end  heavier. They lowered their base weight so that their overall weight with the added food remained the same as if they didn't have added food weight.

One of the ways I save weight is by eliminating the weight of fuel completely, especially since I am really into cooking & drinking  my Hot freshly made cup of coffee throughout the day. So, by using a collapsible lightweight wood stove for a weeks camping adventure,  I save a lot of weight from not having all that extra fuel. This allows me to bring more variety of food and spices. It also requires me to spend more time gathering tinder and kindling, but I actually enjoy the real wood fire, and find the process of feeding the stove wood fuel enjoyable.

So in the end, bring that which you know how to use, try your best to keep your backpack's base weight at 10%, you may have to make some sacrifices and or buy some lightweight or ultralightweight gear to make that mark, and remember Never to take shortcuts with safety measures, or things like 1st aid kits and what have you.

Edited by Michael aka Mac
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