Thursday, June 14, 2012

Backpacking: the Warrior Way to Camp

I just completed a lifelong dream to backpack in the southern Utah desert, surviving only on my wits, what I could carry and the water I could find.  Ever since I was a small boy, I'd dreamed of doing this.  The scout troop I was in as a boy was loaded with fishermen and if you couldn't fish, they weren't doing it.  Since fishing is scarce in the desert of southern Utah, it never happened.

So I was able to accompany my son and his troop on their outing last week, and I have a lot of Warrior stories to tell about that trip, but that isn't the focus of this post.  What I'd like to address for the warriors and budding warriors out there is the fine, manly, warrior art of BACKPACKING!
Standing in the ruins of an ancient culture.

As I described my experience to a co-worker, he mentioned that he wouldn't know where to start on a backpacking trip...this led me to think "Hmmm...if I had to compile a list of ten essential things you'd need for a successful backpacking expedition, what would it be?"

SO here goes:

My Top Ten Essential Items for a Successful Backpacking Trip:

1)    Good internal frame backpack (>65 liter volume) look for heavy duty, metal zippers, good comfortable belt, adjustable harness, and lots of separate pockets.
2)    40 degree sleeping bag and a fleece Bag liner (For summer)
3)    "Big Agnes" Insulated Air Core sleeping pad (inflates to 3” thick)
4)    Headlamp
5)    Good Sharp knife with at least a 3” blade
6)    Compass and Map of area backpacking in, GPS if you have it.
7)    GSI Outdoors Microdualist Cookset (this is really awesome)
8)    Backpacking stove like the Pocket Rocket.
9)    Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter
10)    Trekking journal (More on this one later)

Other items that I thought about including would be:

-    Small first aid/survival kit – make sure that this contains sunscreen, insect bite cream and repellant.
-    Good wide brimmed hat
-    Star Chart (Planisphere) and an Astronomy Laser
-    Fleece Beanie Hat (to keep warm at night)
-    Cliff Bars
-    Paracord (makes a good clothesline and also helps to tie stuff together that is falling apart)
-    Multi-tool (Leatherman)
-    Fire-starting kit
-    Biodegradable soap
-    Camera
-    Fishing Gear

Of course a lot of what you bring depends on the weather, climate and location of where you are going. But these are some of my essentials that I've come to rely on over my years of outdoor adventures.

To me one of the great challenges of Backpacking is getting creative on what I can or cannot pack to save on weight and that can have multiple uses.  For instance; one thing I like to do for a pillow is to put some of my extra clothes into my stuff sack.  It only saves a few ounces, but saves me a lot of space when packing.

One item that I've come to feel is indispensable is my Trekking's a simple, small, journal that I picked up at Target. In this journal I'll make a record of where we go, how we get there, thoughts about the trip, what works, what doesn't and spiritual insights that I gain from the experience etc.  I also like to draw maps, plot where we camped and such.  Here is a photo of one page where I recorded a trip to a local summit:

This entry was from my most recent trip.

My reasoning for this journal is two-fold.  One, I'll have a record of our camps and if I ever want to visit that camp site again, I know how to get there and what was worth doing while I was there.  Second, it is an opportunity for me to reflect on the great blessings that I have to enjoy the outdoors, share the experience with others and to "Get thee into the mountain" (1 Nephi 17:7) and ponder on the things of God.

So what are some of your indispensable wilderness survival items that you have come to rely on in your outdoor adventures?