Camping/Backpacking Gear: Unpacked

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Tired of all the noise?

Friends, I was too.

So I went south, out of town until there was no other human within a 5 mile radius (that I know of).

Then I posted camp for a few days of relaxation and introspection. We are, of course, talking about backpacking. Camping out, hiking, and traveling, while carrying all your gear on your back.

One thing that’s nice to do when you’re on a solo, is just turn off all the lights when it gets dark, and just sit in the woods in the dark. And you just realize that same stuff happens in the dark that happens in the light.” – Sean “Shug” Emery

I came back refreshed, energized, and a bit leaner. Ever since then I’ve been looking for ways to improve the experience, by reading, researching, writing out trips from beginning to end, analyzing, and asking anyone and everyone about tips for camping.

You do not need all kinds of fancy gear to go out into the woods. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated (and for old school adventurers –it never was.)

Here are pieces of gear you need, bare bones, and no frills, in order of importance:

  1. Pack
  2. Boots
  3. Food/Water
  4. Cutting tool
  5. A way to stay Warm (100% wool old army surplus blanket, and fire starters)
  6. A way to stay Dry (Plastic Tarp, Guy line)

That’s all you absolutely need… Everything else: creature comforts. Extra weight and fancy complexities.

Tip: Remember the Rule of 3’s – 3 minutes without Air. 3 hours in extreme Cold. 3 days without Water. 3 weeks without Food.

Below is the complete list of gear that I bring on backpacking trips. This setup is designed for one person, to maintain for up to 7 days unsupported. I’ll list everything, and then go over the items one by one, writing talking about each item. This gear allows me what I call “Smooth Sailing” in the woods.

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Note: I did not get this gear over a short time. It accumulated over a long time or research, trial and error, and advice from friends.

Pack: Eberlestock Destroyer
Boots: Polo Ranger Hiker Boot (camp shoes: Tiger Claw Feiyue)
Hammock: Warbonnet Blackbird
Tarp: Warbonnet Superfly, 2x Dutch Flies, Stakes x10, guy line
Top Quilt: Warbonnet Black Mamba
Under Quilt: Warbonnet Winter Yeti
Knives: Mora Companion, Swedish FireKnife, Leatherman, Swiss Army Knife
Light: BD ReVolt headlamp x2
First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Ultralight+ added other med kits.
Fire starters: Wet fire cubes, Zippo Lighter, Bic Lighter, Lighter fluid, matches, Ferro rod
Water: Katadyn Gravity Camp Water Filter, Geigerrig Hydration Engine
Cooking: Jetboil MiniMo, GSI Java Press, TOAKS Long Spoon
Pants: Prana stretch Zion
Shirt: Patagonia Capilene long sleeve
Compass: Suunto A10
Food: Mountain House, chocolate, Tea/Coffee
Media: Smartphone, Mp3 player, headphones
Extras: Darn Tough Wool Socks, Wool Beanie, Sunhat, RainLeaf Towel, Body Powder, insect repellant, Toilet paper, Sunscreen, Trash bags, Moleskins, Band-Aids, Baby wipes, Chap Stick, Gum.

Tip: Using your gear efficiently takes practice. Try setting up and tearing down camp a few times before going out.

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Now each item individually:

Pack: Eberlestock Destroyer
At first I wore cheap $20 Walmart packs. And they wore through, ripped, failed, weren’t comfortable, and didn’t have good support. They were suited only to carry a notebook and a water bottle. When I was researching packs I kept coming across Osprey, Arcteryx and Northface. I don’t like brightly colored gear, and they were expensive. Everyone I talked to liked their osprey, however, a buddy recommend Eberlestock to me. They make tactical and hunting packs, most made to accommodate long rifles. The destroyer is a 60L pack not made for a rifle, but for outdoorsmanship. I wanted a sturdy pack, and mid-range price, and with some handy features, and this one has served me well.

Description: “It seems that most manufacturers have taken so many shortcuts in the trend toward minimalism that they have forgotten what it’s like to live out of a backpack.”

Boots: Men’s Ranger Lace-up Boot
I was researching all kinds of expensive Gore-tex boots, and hesitating to buy anything due to prices. Eventually I got some boots for free from a friend. Someone had just left them while moving out, and never came back to claim them. They seemed to fit fine, and have worked ok so far. Camp shoes are Feiyue’s, of which I’ve owned 8 pairs over the last 6 years. Popular in the early parkour community, until the company changed the rubber to a cheaper one. Still great, cheap, comfortable shoes to live out of, no longer so great for parkour/climbing. They are like a more flexible converse all-star.

Tip: You’ll learn what’s really missing from your setup once you’re out there. Take notes for next time. Write everything in you journal.

Hammock: Warbonnet Blackbird
Hammock camping is the way to go imo, if you are in an area with trees. You get consistent sleep in the same sleeping position, regardless of terrain. The Blackbird is a great hammock, the only downside is price. There were many cheaper options out there; however I did not want to compromise sleep. The Bug net is a great, must have feature. Foot box and Shelf are convenient, not really critical. The thing with hammock is they radiate heat, and get very cold, which is why I bought quilts. To learn more about hammocks see Shug’s videos to see if it’s the thing for you. Or buy The Ultimate Hang.

Tarp: Warbonnet Superfly
Large tarp with closing doors. This is a “winter” tarp, although I use it year round, because I don’t want my down quilts to get wet, and like the tent feel. Think of a levitating tent, with the hammock inside. It has withstood moderate rain all night. Side pull outs do need to be seam-sealed. Added Dutch Flies. I’m not trying to tie knots with thin line on cold/wet days. It’s good to know how to tie the knots anyway, but the flies are great.

Top Quilt: Warbonnet Black Mamba
Made specifically for hammock sleeping. Compresses fairly small for the size. Like a sleeping bag, cut half way down one side. Never underestimate how cold it can get at night. Better to take a layer off than be unable to fall asleep. When you are lying down, and not moving, it is much easier to get cold.

Under Quilt: Warbonnet Winter Yeti
Replacement for the short pad I used in the hammock. Goes on the outside of the hammock and hugs the torso. More comfortable, warmer, and packs smaller.

Knives: Mora Companion, Swedish FireKnife, Leatherman, Swiss Army Knife “You can never have too many blades!” I carry too many, it is overkill. No reason to go out there with a huge knife like Rambo. It’s not necessary. Having a good multi tool is helpful. Maybe another knife to cut line or open food/condiment packets. The FireKnife has a Ferro rod in the handle, if you ever want to use one.

Tip: When your knife comes out, your med kit comes out. Have it close by, in case you cut yourself.

Light: BD ReVolt headlamp x2
These have been great. USB rechargeable. Flashlights are obsolete in my opinion. A headlamp allows you to aim the beam, and have your hands free to work. Multiple modes, good charge. I carry two, one as the primary light source, and the second as a backup.

Tip: Carrying only extra batteries isn’t enough. There are multiple parts of a flashlight/headlamp that can fail. Best bet is to carry two independent, working lights.

First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Ultralight+ added other med kits.
Good for small cuts. Contains various medicines in pill form. Some gauze. Some medical tape. Some antibacterial ointment. Not sure how a med kit would help with a serious injury, such as broken bones/fractures.

Fire starters: Wet fire cubes, Zippo Lighter, Bic Lighter, Lighter fluid, Matches, Ferro rod. I don’t cook over the fire; I start one for light, warmth, entertainment, and to help keep bugs away. Wet wood is difficult to start, so I used wet fire.

Tip: Dig a tunnel on one side of the fire, leading to the coals. The hot, rising air will create a vacuum, and the tunnel will pull in air to feed the fire.

Water: Katadyn Gravity Camp Water Filter, Geigerrig Hydration Engine
I remember dragging around two huge Nalgene’s on my first multi-day backpacking trip. Not a fan of solid water bottles. Indians had water skins, we have hydration bladders. You can turn them inside-out to clean them, roll them up when empty, and they are much more packable. The gravity camp filter is fairly fast, and uses the weight of the water. You scoop it through the water source and hang it up to filter. The hydration engine is a pressurize camelbak essentially. It sprays the water out for you.

Cooking: Jetboil MiniMo, GSI Java Press, TOAKS Long Spoon
The jet boil is a mini propane stove that packs into itself like a nesting doll. It boils water incredibly fast, and won’t go out in windy conditions. The GSI press is a French press with a cup inside, for coffee. The long spoon works great for long meal packets, to reach the bottom.

Pants: Prana stretch Zion
Above average pants. Light, flexible, and dry quickly. Very breathable. I’ve gotten soaked in the rain in these, and after 30mins of walking they were dry. Belt comes installed, and small buttons allow you to roll them up, and secure them.

Shirt: Patagonia Capilene long sleeve
Suited for a warm climate. Light and comfortable. Half zipper, in case it gets too hot. Breathable and packable.

Tip: Wear pants, Long sleeve shirts, and a Sunhat. Never underestimate how debilitating sunburn can be. Day after day of hiking in the sun is no joke for your skin.

Compass: Suunto
Wasn’t looking for anything fancy. For basic land navigation. For example, head straight east off the trail for half a mile, set up stealth camp. Next day, head directly west, get back on the trail, continue on.

Food: Mountain house meals are tasty, if a bit pricy. Other things I eat include: Oatmeal, grits, jerky, hard meats and cheeses, tortillas, olive oil(for extra calories), granola, energy bars, nuts, M&Ms, dried fruit, chocolate, crackers, dry soups, instant potato, candy, tea, coffee, coco, spice packets, powdered milk, and protein powder.

I am a few hundred calories short per day in the woods. Not starving, just slightly hungry throughout the day, until the evening, when I eat a big meal, and go to sleep. I usually come back a bit leaner, and that’s ok. Eat a big meal before going out and after you return. You won’t starve to death over a few days, I promise.

Media: Smartphone, Mp3 player, Headphones
Phone is for checking in with people, reading kindle, and taking photos. MP3 player is for lectures and music. For longer trips and heavy use, you can bring usb battery packs or small solar panels for charging at your camp. A good pair of in-ear headphones is good for the hammock, and they hardly take up any room.

Extras:

Darn Tough Wool Socks and Wool Beanie for sleeping

RainLeaf Towel for drying dishes/gear before packing

Body Powder for odor. Not bathing for several days makes you smell and powder is the only thing that I’ve found works.

Insect repellent: I hate mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can ruin a trip quickly. Ticks are annoying. Keep them away. Ben’s 40% deet or something similar.

Sunscreen: Helpful for anything not covered by clothing.

Trash bags: For food wrappers and keeping items dry.

Moleskins for blisters, Baby wipes, Chap Stick, Gum.

That sums up all the gear I currently own. I do not hunt or fish my own food; I only filter the water from a water source. I wouldn’t recommend buying a lot of this stuff if you won’t use it frequently, as they are only small convinces for a lot of green. I fully intend to use every piece of gear until it evaporates at 1000 trips.

All the Best.

-A

2 thoughts on “Camping/Backpacking Gear: Unpacked”

  1. Good set of gear! That back pack was crazy expensive for me though. Would you recommend that green long bag we got issued in basic training? I feel it would be uncomfortable, it it was overly loaded, but I could probably take precautions to make the straps more comfortable if I make shift some pads or straps for my chest and stomach.

    1. No, I would not recommend that green bag for anything other than storing items in your car. Those bags lack the most important features of a pack:
      -No solid stays in the pack to save your back and distribute the weight
      -No chest strap/waist strap.

      Yes, packs are expensive. Remember, a good pack is an investment, you buy once – cry once. Not something to skimp on, trust me I’ve tried that route, and ripped through all the cheap models. Year after year.

      Look around for yourself, but keep these in mind:
      -Aluminum back stays
      -Chest and Hip straps
      -Material(500-1000 Denier)

      Thanks for reading Mike, All the Best.

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