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Spiritual Pillgrim
10-12-2005, 08:49
PACKING LIST BASICS
By Taz1
Last Edited 23 Nov 2005

What to bring? What not to bring? Some things are essential. Some things are not. Some packs are light. Some are heavy. Sometimes you bring something you wish you didnít, sometimes you donít bring something you wish did. What you do eventually bring is a personal choice but there is nothing like good planning and good choices to make sure your hike is enjoyable. Remember this: A failure to plan is a plan to fail.

Generally, there are 10 things you never leave home without. Most hikers have their own opinion on what is essential or not. Lightweight hiker afficiondos might cut the essentials list in half, or less! What you leave out (or add) depends on your passion for lightweight hiking or your ability to carry heavier loads. The 10 essentials are:

1. map
2. compass
3. extra clothing
4. fire starter
5. matches
6. sunglasses and sunscreen
7. extra food, including water and a way to purify it
8. pocket knife
9. first aid kit
10. flashlight

A LOOK AT THE TOP 10 ESSENTIALS

What you pack depends on your planning, your experience and simply how much you can or are willing to carry. For example, I rarely bushwhack so I almost never carry a compass. If needed, I can usually get my bearings by the sun or using a map and terrain associating. Therefore I almost always have a map and/or photocopies of a trail guide. (I used to carry a GPS, but it seems that more often than not I have had trouble getting a signal, so now it stays at home. But I love my therm-a-rest chair!)

Extra clothing will be dependant on the weather and your environment. Since much of the AT traverses through mountains and mountain weather can change suddenly, an extra set of dry clothes or wet weather gear goes with me. I will take up to 3 pairs of sox (and liners) depending on how many days I am out. Happy feet means happy trails; you have to take care of your feet. Remember that planning, experience and knowledge are your friends. Know your environment and if possible, expected weather forecasts.

A small Bic lighter may be better to ignite your fire starter than damp matches. Iíve used windproof matches that burn like a 4<SUP>th</SUP> of July sparkler! Fire starter is easily obtained commercially and naturally. If gathering fire starter from the woods, remember Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics.

Even Bic lighters are susceptible to dampness and will not light. One hiker reports that he carries a little bottle of alcohol, an altoids tin candle, and 1/3rd of a magnesium fire starter. The alcohol is used to start the candle from a spark, and then the candle is used to start a stove or a twig fire. The candle can be used as a light, eliminating the need for a flashlight.

I have never used sunglasses and sunscreen in the woods. I get all the shade I need from trees. Again, if you are planning above tree line hiking, these might be good to bring along. I leave these at home.

I generally donít bring ďextraĒ food but always seem to have some in my pack when I get off the trail anyway. If I were thru hiking or doing 15 to 20 miles a day I would probably gobble up what I have. Water is another matter. I tend to be paranoid about running out of water. For extended trips I usually start with a 5-liter dromedary that is full. Thatís about 10 pounds of weight but I constantly sip the drinking tube while moving. Also, your body canít last as long without water as it can without food. The dromedary is also useful in camp. I usually fill it up when I get to a shelter or campsite and there is plenty to drink and cook with until morning.

The lightest way to purify water is to not purify it at all, but that isnít recommended, especially when water sources are of a poor quality. Whoís to say the quality is good or not? Another option is using chemicals, like iodine tablets. Fortunately for me, the iodine taste does not make me gag. For extra weight and a lot more cost, there are a variety of water pump/purifiers. The safest way to purify, but also burn fuel, is to boil the water. Different sources claim different lengths of time to ďboilĒ the water. According to The Complete Walker IV by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins, a 2-minute boil should kill anything. (This 800 plus page book contains so much information it hurts to read! Be warned that it is not the best source of information for lightweight hiking. Equipment technology progresses so rapidly that more up to date info can be found searching the internet).

My pocketknife of choice is a swiss army knife (the fieldmaster model, I think). It has all the gadgets I need. Iíve even used the saw to cut firewood! Next to water, I value my pocket knife the most.

It is hard to say which of the essential items is the most essential, but the top of the list includes a first aid kit. It should contain gauze pads and a gauze roll, band aids, alcohol swabs, butterfly closures, a triangular bandage, pain killers (ibuprofen works great for me!), adhesive tape, ace bandage, moleskin, tweezers, small scissors, safety pins and personal medications if needed. (My swiss army knife has scissors and tweezers on it). A small first aid manual wouldnít hurt either if you donít actually have the knowledge to use the kit. Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Eric Weiss is pocket sized and cost about $7. It can be found at www.campmor.com (http://www.campmor.com/)

The last essential is a flashlight. I normally use a mini-mag lite for reading after dark, but this is a heavy choice. Iíve only stealth hiked one time and the mini-mag was enough to light the trail and see blazes. I got to a shelter just as it started to rain. I also have a tiny Black Diamond headlamp, which weighs much less. Small LED lights work too. On shorter trips, I may pack along a Coleman Excursion lantern.

There are a number of different pieces of equipment that are available for the 10 essentials. What you get, that is how much you want to carry, is up to you. A good choice for a piece of equipment is one that has multiple uses, such as the trusty swiss army knife. It cuts moleskin, removes ticks, produces fire starter, slices pepperoni, cuts tie down and many other things. I am not a lightweight fanatic so I could probably trim a few pounds here and there. Iím usually at about 35 pounds before food and water is added.

kroe
02-06-2008, 21:33
I find it amusing that half of the stuff considered "essential" on this list is also on the "Things to Leave Behind" list

fiddlehead
02-06-2008, 21:47
Yeah, i wouldn't take half that stuff. sunglasses on the AT? for what?

THat must be an old list from the 1960's boy scout handbook or something.

I do see it's an old thread. Lots of that going around these days. Must be cabin fever.

submariner
04-24-2008, 12:11
I am looking for the simplist and lightest weight gear lists from successful thru hikers. thanks - submariner

oops56
04-24-2008, 12:23
I am looking for the simplist and lightest weight gear lists from successful thru hikers. thanks - submariner

Just put it all in your pack weigh it if to much fix it:confused:

spanky
05-20-2008, 08:25
toilet paper

Camp Counselor
10-23-2008, 14:48
My thinking on the 10 Essentials is that they are the items most needed to stay warm, and found (either not lost, or easy to find) in the back country under normal circumstances.

It's arguable what the "back country" is and how much you can drop from the list when you're closer to civilization like much of the AT is. However, as I understand it, the idea of the list came from thwarting the most common causes of unnecessary Search and Rescue like Hypothermia, being lost with no sense of how to get out, etc. With that in mind things like sunglasses (except maybe in the desert or in snow covered terrain) and toilet paper probably don't fit the list.

I've seen at least a dozen or more variations on the list. But the most common ones seem to come close to what www.hikesafe.com (http://www.hikesafe.com) publishes. And, of course, the list would need to be adjusted based on typical climate, etc.

Map
Compass
Warm Clothing
- Sweater or Pile Jacket
- Long Pants (wool or synthetic)
- Hat (wool)
Extra Food and Water
Flashlight or Headlamp
Matches/Fire starters
First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
Whistle
Rain/Wind Jacket & Pants
Pocket Knife

In the end though I think the list is a personal decision to be weighed against conditions, location, hiker experience and skill, etc. I have seen UL'ers put many of these items together in only a few ounces with a little creativity so there's likely little reason to leave too many of them behind.

Just my humble opinion...

Marcello
11-11-2008, 19:01
What do you all think the most effiecient fire starter is?

oops56
11-11-2008, 20:12
My wife she can get the wood stove fired up when cold better then me.

fahmah
01-24-2009, 16:37
Best firestarter to carry for emergencies- white birch bark or a handful of yellow birch bark...

4eyedbuzzard
01-24-2009, 16:52
Provided you have a lighter or matches, cotton balls in vaseline work well, as does vegetable oil, as does hand sanitizer, etc. Lots of normally carried stuff will burn, getting it ignited is usually the hardest part. I always have a backup to the bic.

Tinker
01-24-2009, 17:33
Provided you have a lighter or matches, cotton balls in vaseline work well, as does vegetable oil, as does hand sanitizer, etc. Lots of normally carried stuff will burn, getting it ignited is usually the hardest part. I always have a backup to the bic.
.....and candle stubs and fine steel wool (burns like a mini bonfire), dryer lint soaked with vaseline or wax. A no-cost option is waxed paper milk cartons cut into small squares at home.
Potato chips work, too.
As mentioned above, if you carry vegetable oil for cooking, you have a great firestarter. Pour some on a piece of cloth as a wick, light, and away you go.
Esbit tabs work very well, too, especially if you already carry them to boil water with.

Mike Tulane
02-16-2009, 00:01
"Best firestarter"? Hand sanitizer. Leave the alcohol swabs from the first aid kit at home. Hand sanitizer is a multipurpose item - great firestarter, disinfects cuts/abrasions,cleans hands. Of course, the alohol swabs can also serve as firestarter.

Tinker
02-16-2009, 00:08
"Best firestarter"? Hand sanitizer. Leave the alcohol swabs from the first aid kit at home. Hand sanitizer is a multipurpose item - great firestarter, disinfects cuts/abrasions,cleans hands. Of course, the alohol swabs can also serve as firestarter.

Shop around for hand sanitizer with the highest alcohol content. They aren't all created equal as far as fire starting is concerned.

Sanitizer soaked twisted toilet paper burns a good long while.

Gnome7
07-23-2009, 20:47
Large Stick matches soaked in Paraffin oil and carried in a small waterproof match stick case with strike bar. I found the case at surplus store. I carry cotton balls soaked with Vaseline in a 35mm film case, fire starter.

Jack Tarlin
07-24-2009, 17:46
Actually, I think the original list is pretty good.

I'd add extra batteries for your headlamp; duct tape; and I also carry a two inch metal sleeve from the Hardware Store. That and the duct tape will absolutely save your bacon if you break a tent pole and have to splint it, and this happens to people more often than you might think.

riceNbeans
07-24-2009, 20:27
What do you all think the most effiecient fire starter is?


Dryer Lint

fiddlehead
07-24-2009, 22:18
I always get a kick out of how people say they would carry sunglasses and sunscreen, a knife and flashlight before they would carry a sleeping bag and shelter.
To each his own i guess.

Connie
10-24-2009, 12:54
"The 10 Essentials" at my website may vary from "classic list" published by The Mountaineers

http://www.ultralightbackpackingonline.info/facts1.html and http://www.mountaineersbooks.org/client/client_pages/Media%20Archives/mtn_media_TenEssentials.cfm (http://www.mountaineersbooks.org/client/client_pages/Media%20Archives/mtn_media_TenEssentials.cfm)

but notice their "Ten Essential Systems" includes emergency shelter.

I don't know, if Freedom of the Hills published the other list first, or REI.

I remember having "The 10 Essentials" printed sheet put in my hand at the upstairs Pike Street REI store.

I don't have my original Freedom of the Hills anymore. It was our "bible".

That said, I was with the people who developed "The 10 Essentials".

There was a lot of discussion and I participated in it. George Martin, at the Olympic College Mountaineering program, put the first "The 10 Essentials" list I saw in my hand.

It was not, "Buy a list of stuff and you will be okay".

It came about the time that a MD was sued for helping an accident victim on the highway.

"The Good Samaritan Law" existed.

We decided we in Mountain Rescue would "push the limits". In fact, we were allowed to do more than a "field medic" if we were 50 miles from a MD. We did, and with success.

Next, fire departments were allowed to have a "rescue car".

Next, EMT's.

The 10 Essentials were only one effort.

We just wanted people to have safe and enjoyable outdoor experiences.

mkmangold
10-24-2009, 22:50
I always get a kick out of how people say they would carry sunglasses and sunscreen, a knife and flashlight before they would carry a sleeping bag and shelter.
To each his own i guess.

I asked a local eye doc for one of those plastic throwaway post-cataract sunglasses and he gave me several. I just pop those somewhere in my backpack, lumbar pack, and glove box.

ArcticBartek
12-21-2009, 21:32
The two most important items are missing: a sleeping bag and a backpack.
Duh.

spthibault
01-19-2010, 04:06
As I am sure we all have seen or will see Les Stroud AKA Survivorman do;

I'd have to say that hand sanitizer is a great fire starter even if you have no lighter, if you do and the lighter runs out of fluid use it to make spark. I like the Cotton Ball/Vaseline routine, that works well too if you can get it to catch the spark.

Gather some dry tender, just like he does on the show, and from prior exp in the Army I can agree, finding it might not be easy, but its around, even if its in the center of an old fallen tree, make some dust or small bits by crunching, or shaving it up, and that is the basics of your bed to lay your coal or smoldering cotton ball of warmth and light, after that common sense takes over, once you have ignited your tender, feed it slightly larger sticks till you get to the size you want. just stop before you burn down whole trees and the forest, haha.

SO, lighter, fire starter, and trees. after that you can fashion what you need from the world around you. of course, Food and Water. so really you only NEED 5 things. haha

The best fire started is simply the one that works... you can even start it with a Flashlight.

moondoggie
09-30-2010, 22:25
I second the fine steel wool, and your headlamp or flashlight battery will ignite it (just touch a few strands to each end). Amazing!

But I carry and use cotton balls/vaseline/bic as my primary fire starter.

Most everyone has extra ziplocks, right? On rainy, damp days; collect natural firestarter as you hike and put it in extra ziplock

Forever North
09-30-2010, 23:58
There's all kinds of fire starter you can find in the woods or bring with you. However the one I use the most is Duraflame Firestart in the brick form. Not the ones in long 1/4X1/4 strips, I don't like them at all. For two or thee bucks you'll have enough for a thru-hike. I take a small piece with me and leave the rest at home and have it ship to me in a mail drop when needed. I have never had proublms if it's a little wet and it will help start a fire under the wetest conditions. You can find it at camping stores or Walmart. You can also place it in all most any container because there is No leakage or crush it flat and it will still work for you. Its also made from 100% renewable resources. Saying all of that I will admit I have never used this in sub-0 weather. If anyone has please let me know how it worked out.

C Seeker
10-04-2010, 07:00
Yeah, i wouldn't take half that stuff. sunglasses on the AT? for what?

THat must be an old list from the 1960's boy scout handbook or something.

I do see it's an old thread. Lots of that going around these days. Must be cabin fever.

That is from the Boy scouts 10 essentail backpacking list. It is still a requirement to this day for the backpacking and hiking merit badge. I used to teach it to the scouts in my council at a summer camp. I feel if you know how to impervise on some of the gear then don't take it.

Also there is no sleeping bag, shelter, and other things like that as this is just a basic. If it gets cold start a fire, if you need a shelter build one, and so farth.

Trailbender
10-04-2010, 07:56
I used sunglasses on my thru constantly.

Senor Jalapeno
02-09-2011, 18:09
The Top 10 Essentials for the AT:
1. Tent or Tarp
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Food and Water + Purifier(dont overpack though!)
4. First aid Kit: Bandaids, Tylenol,Triangle Bandage, Tape (anything else is overkill)
5. Headlamp
6. Lighter/ matches
7. Pocket Knife
8. Bandana
9. Rain gear
10. COMMON SENSE! and yes you'd be surprised how many people leave home without it.

blake50785
03-04-2011, 12:08
1. Rambo Knife(that's it)

tigerpaw
03-04-2011, 21:32
Ya'll hiking naked?

Spogatz
03-05-2011, 23:36
I'll bring my camera.....

Turkhevn
03-29-2011, 11:32
Things I might do without: A map, compass, fire starter, matches, sun glasses and sunscreen. But how do you get by without these? you may question: The trail can be found on the internet; I study it! (I'd like to contradict this and bring maps anyway but can probably get by without them.) A compas isn't needed, except maybe on a cloudy day when I can't see shadows, but I know where I am on the trail and where I came from and the other direction is where I'm going; I won't be straying off the trail, except into town, and again I know where I came from and where I'm going. Although stress reduces mental abilities, bear this burden and be aware of it -- keep your presence of mind! If you feel lost take a break and hope for a break in the clouds to see a shadow; afternoon shadows point east; morning shadows point west (sunrise in East, sunset West). Cardinal directions: North facing with East on right, West left. South: East left, West right.

Sun glasses are fussy. Instead a hunter camouflaged crushable fedora (to support a mosquito net for the head, including back of neck), long brimmed fishing cap, and a double insulated sock hat for head gear (also a hooded military stop-rip poncho and a hooded, semi-water proof, wind breaker parka shell) will provide sun & eye protection and more. Long sleeve t-shirts for sun protection on the arms and occasional long pants for the legs.

Matches and fire starter fail once moistened, and they can't be kept always dry; instead, bring a grill lighter, the kind with the long stem tube and a sterno, two 5 oz. cans, camp stove (total weight less than 2 lbs.). Don't plan on cooking much: Eat peanut butter, raisins, and vitamin C tablets breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do bring about 35 lbs. of bottled water to be restocked at grocery stores and Walmarts along the way. Don't drink any ground water until after it's boiled, perhaps as a cup of tea (bring tea bags) for breakfast.

Don't trust water purifiers: Tablets don't work. Filters clog. Pumps break filter seals. Gravity systems make you wait.

Wear tight fitting leather gloves like the kind for gardening, and have a long sleeve, mock turtle neck t-shirt that may help with some mosquito problems. Be ready with some deat insect repellent. Bring lots of extra underwear pants (7) and socks (7), not so much on short pants (1) and trousers (2), a couple long sleeve t-shirts, one long sleeve sweat shirt and pants set. Put all individual clothing items into zip-lock plastic bags, quart size if necessary, and bring a couple extra large lawn and leaf plastic bags to cover the back pack with its contents inside.

Bring good walking shoes. An extra pair will be needed if the favorites get wet. Bring a set of water sport shoe-sock slip-ons to ford stream crossings.

A typical first aid kit will soon fail; instead, bring lots of extra breathable fabric (not vinyl coated) first aid tape, a safety pin to lance and drain blisters which must be taped, a roll of gauze bandage and three gauze bandage pads, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and two ace bandages (one for each ankle if needed); snake bite kit not needed. If chafing rash appears between the legs, a first aid antibiotic cream, or vaseline, might help; change your gate with feet spread further apart so the fat doesn't rub so much and the rash vents better; treat with peroxide and rubbing alcohol (ew! it stings! too bad, deal with it; soon you won't have the fat anymore for walking the A.T., and the rubbing and subsequent rash will be gone).

A cook pot is too heavy. One metal Coleman brand camp plate to also serve as a fry pan-griddle, one metal Coleman brand camp bowl, and one large pint-sized metal Coleman brand camp cup, a spork, and a pocket knife.

No sleeping bag nor tent; instead, a military style foam sleeping pad, a military style poncho liner, and the poncho already mentioned. The flashlight should be the kind with the self charging hand crank generator. There's another flashlight, having fewer LEDs and thus lower candellas, system with a hand crank generator that also has a USB port to recharge cell phones and AM/FM radio.

Turkhevn
03-29-2011, 11:42
For minimal except on water, also bring a spool of extra thick jute cord from Ben Franklin Store and six tent stakes and two collapsible tent poles.

Rocket Jones
03-29-2011, 11:55
I kept waiting for the smiley face, but I think Turkhevn is serious. :O

Turkhevn
03-29-2011, 12:04
More for minimal except on water: Toiletries. Toothbrush, large toothpaste, soap bars (2), plastic soap bar dish-travel case, hair comb, small hair brush, face shaving razor with replacement blades, large toe nail clippers (not scissor type), can of spray deodorant, stick of slather-on deodorant, two rolls of toilet paper (each in its own quart size zip lock storage bag), two boxes of baby wipes (each removed from boxes and put into quart size zip lock storage bags), wash cloth in its own zip lock storage bag, and small bath towel in its own zip lock storage bag.

Turkhevn
03-29-2011, 12:05
Smiley face, too, is very important!

seasparrow
12-18-2011, 05:12
1. Pack
2. A food supply
3. Clothes on your back and foots
4. kord or fishing line
5. trail name
6. Light maker
7. Impty bottle
8. Good poncho
9. High quality bandana
10. The credit card

fins1838
02-15-2012, 15:54
Weed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;-)

TOMP
02-15-2012, 17:37
The Top 10 Essentials for the AT:
1. Tent or Tarp
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Food and Water + Purifier(dont overpack though!)
4. First aid Kit: Bandaids, Tylenol,Triangle Bandage, Tape (anything else is overkill)
5. Headlamp
6. Lighter/ matches
7. Pocket Knife
8. Bandana
9. Rain gear
10. COMMON SENSE! and yes you'd be surprised how many people leave home without it.


This is a good ten. But I would be hard pressed to consider about half of them essential. There really isnt 10 essential items more like 5. The rest could be done without and most people dont use at least one of the top 10. Common sense and experience isnt something you can bring if you dont have it and it might be impossible to acquire. In the hot months you could drop this to 3 items (3-5) if you sleep only in shelters or in poncho.

1. Tent or tarp
2. sleeping bag (not if its warm though)
3. Proper clothes (and this is different in different seasons)
4. Rain gear
5. Proper footwear (varies on preference)

Gramps
03-23-2012, 21:18
Can't believe they left off a whistle. Way too important, especially if you hike at a time when traffic is light. As for firestarters, get a cardboard eggcarton. Place a golfball-size piece of dryer lint in each cup and pour in melted parrafin wax. Always worked for me, even when it was damp or rainy.

Spokes
03-24-2012, 06:17
The Ten Essentials were first described in the 1930's by "The Mountaineers", a hiking and mountain climbing club based in Seattle , Washington.

-source: Wikipedia