Prepping for a long-distance trek can be intimidating.
“Long distance” meaning any adventure more than 2 nights for me…!
This is the part where things get tossed out of the pile. Agonizingly. Or sometimes with great fickleness.
To be honest, my pack list doesn’t vary too much from trip to trip. There’s always duct tape involved, for example. But here are some factors to consider:
Know your trail: Get a topographical map, check out a guidebook and search online for blogs or other trail reports of your destination. Get the low-down on how wet, boggy or mucky a trail really is, or what obstacles seem common along the route. Maybe you’ll need to add something to your list because of this.
Prepare for all weather: Even if it’s calling for 30 degrees in the mountains, pack a raincoat, bring a toque. Weather changes can be quick and fierce.
How’s your endurance? And I mean smell-wise. Ha. Do you need 4 clean shirts and your Axe Dark Temptation body spray or can you work with just one hiking outfit, one relaxing/sleeping outfit, a couple extra pairs of socks, and the pungent odour of awesome and epic?
Creature comforts rule. There’s often a fine line between the necessity and the luxury. For me, it’s battery-powered snowflake-shaped LED string lights for my tent interior. Yep. Call me crazy but this makes me feel at home.
For the Sawback trail I recently did with my youngest son, Hugh, we had ahead of us four backcountry campgrounds running along the front-ranges wilderness from Johnston Canyon through to Lake Louise, in Banff National Park. Upon reserving the campsites for this trek, Parks Canada folks did say to expect some trail finding and creek crossing along our journey, but otherwise business as usual. This is what I brought for a four-night backcountry trek:
tent (mine is a two-person but perfect-for-one kind of tent)
sleeping pad (Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite)
sleeping bag (-10, down-filled)
- Food & drink
4 dinners and 4 breakfasts (pre-packaged) + an Ichiban noodles as a back up
8 granola/protein bars
4 baggies of trail mix (mixed nuts, yoghurt raisins, peanut M&Ms + pretzels)
a block of cheese + 1 baggie of jerky
backpacking stove + 1 fuel cartridge + 1 pot + matches
1 bowl (with measuring increments) + 1 long-handled spoon
2 wide-mouth 1-litre water bottles (Nalgene)
water filter + water purification tablets
flavoured Nuun tablets
a drawstring food bag for keeping it all together + for hanging/storing food at camp
hiking clothes: quick-dry long pants, tank, long-sleeve shirt, socks, boots, with alternating hat with brim/Buff/bandana
in the pack: fleece pants, thermal shirt, 1 extra undies, 2 extra pairs of socks, warm jacket with hood, toque, gloves (all in a compression sack, which doubles as my pillow) and then easy access at the top of my pack is a rain coat and rain pants
- First aid
extra blister pads
- Personal stuff (all teeny tiny versions)
foaming soap paper sheets
topographical map + compass
flip-flops for around camp
DSLR camera with a wide angle lens + 2 batteries, waterproof zip soft case
journal + 2 pens
twinkle lights + batteries
Therm-A-Rest Z Seat
paracord survival bracelet (made it myself!)
10 foot of light rope
a couple extra Ziploc baggies for nasty wet socks or food garbage
1 large black Glad garbage bag…you never know when you might need to glissade down a snow patch!
Things I thought would be good in past hikes but turned out to be just agonizingly (mentally) heavy due include a small tripod (never used), a deck of cards (never played), a flask (never drank), a travel towel (just drip-dried) and a book (never read). All of these were unused due to my general exhaustion at the end of each day. I’m pretty much capable of getting supper down the hatch and then passing out. Am not so sociable, per se…something I could work on.
I rarely crack my first aid kit (knock on wood) and I didn’t even use my foaming soap flakes to wash anything, but I think I’d still bring them along for the next trip. Just in case.
All of the list above fits into my 65L Arcteryx pack. Fill up those water bottles and oomph – that pack is sufficiently heavy!! I’m guessing it came in around 45ish pounds with the water bottles filled up. Felt heavier, mind you. Next time I’ll weigh it for sure, so I can think about every pound as I walk…
How heavy is your pack? What can’t YOU live without?
*Hugh is even more fickle than I when it came to jamming things into his pack. He tossed his raincoat, sunscreen, toothbrush, deodorant and bug spray. Hm. Which do you think was the most vital for early summer in the backcountry? Discuss.