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first real backpacking trip, help with gear?
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alex ollahan
(autograph) - F
first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/07/2010 19:17:54 MDT Print View

Long time lurker, first time poster. Going on my first real backpacking trip, attempted late spring and failed miserably so went back to the drawing board. Going to the Smokies. I made a spreadsheet of where I'm at -

the duct tape/bug spray/fuel/water pills are all random estimates because I'm still working on purchasing them.

This is for a 3 day, 2 night trip with 4 meals and snacks between. As you can see, I didn't add clothes yet, haven't bought anything yet. Also, didn't add maps yet. The trip is the 19th of this month and my budget isn't more than 30 bucks, so changes need to be with stuff I've got or cheap hopefully!

Any input would be appreciated.


EDIT: added sleeping pad, forgot it

Edited by autograph on 08/07/2010 20:15:36 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/07/2010 19:23:24 MDT Print View

Alex thanks for posting your speadsheet. We need to see exactly what you have. You came to the right place, but please understand that you also need to know how to use you gear (especially you most important gear, your mind). Post what you have, what you want to do hiking wise, as well as what you want to do hiking. We can help!

alex ollahan
(autograph) - F
Thanks for the reply on 08/07/2010 19:35:02 MDT Print View

Exactly as in EVERYTHING?

My main setup is..

Pack - Osprey Atmos 50
Bag - Arrow Rock
Tent - Marmot Limelight 2
Pad - Therm-a-rest ridge-rest
Stove - Coleman Peak 1
Water - Plan on two 1 liter aquafina or gatorade bottles
Purification - Katadyn pills
Light - Coleman LED lantern

My first trip I had way too much stuff and very poor gear, was lugging about 42 lbs with my girlfriend who had a pack from the 70s. Needless to say, our shoulders were in agony, but we knew it was something we wanted to get into.

I'm a regular on Backpacker magazine's forum, which is where I first started getting tips on going lighter and it just recently has become a bit of an obsession. I'm doing what I can with the money I have.

I'll be going with my girlfriend again, so some things are a bit luxury for her sake - like the small lantern, somewhat heavy 2 person tent.

I plan on going on some shorter test run hikes before we hit the smokies. We have one very long 12 mile day with a big part up the mountain planned, so we need to get everything squared away. We're both in pretty decent shape.

Edited by autograph on 08/07/2010 19:47:14 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/07/2010 19:50:38 MDT Print View

I would....

  • Get rid of the deodorant.
  • Multiply the fuel by 3x if you'll be cooking every meal.
  • Add a sleeping pad.
  • Extra clothing like underwear, socks?
  • Warm (camp) clothing? Well...probably not needed with long warm summer days, but I don't know that area.
  • Get rid of the stuff sack pillow and use the one from your sleeping bag.
  • If you're using moist toilet wipes, 2.3 ounces may not be enough.
  • 1.1 ounces is light for a first aid kit. I'm curious about what's in it.

Where to spend that $30? The days are pretty long, so do you really need much light? An inexpensive small LED flashlight would cut weight out of the flashlight and eliminate the need for extra batteries.

What are you storing your water in?


alex ollahan
(autograph) - F
Forgot to add the pad on 08/07/2010 20:20:36 MDT Print View

Yeah I just added the pad, forgot all about it (ridge rest)

3 fuel canisters seems like a lot.. how long does each last? I'll be cooking oatmeal, mac n cheese, oatmeal again, and rice. Possibly boiling some water.

Yeah I've got a spoon and fork (plastic) just found it easier to type one of them.

The first aid kit had band aids, 2 gauze pads, some bobby pins, anti-biotic cream, cotton swabs, pain pills.

Haven't really bought my clothes yet - I'll probably pack a spare pair of pants, shirt, socks.

I'll have to bring some regular toilet paper as well just in case. I shouldn't have bought that stuff sack, it just seemed like such a good idea.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Edited by autograph on 08/07/2010 20:21:21 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Forgot to add the pad on 08/07/2010 21:02:30 MDT Print View

3x the fuel was assuming meals that require much more time than simply boiling water, and also not enough time with the stove to maximize fuel. Some types of macaroni, oatmeal and rice can take a lot of fuel to cook, so pick well.

Can you skip the spare shirt and pants by doing laundry on the trip? Maybe put spare clothing in the car for the trip home. I wouldn't skip the spare underwear and socks though.

Also, do you think you can replace the camp towel with a bandana?

Edited by leaftye on 08/07/2010 21:08:04 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Here's the spreadsheet on 08/07/2010 21:05:29 MDT Print View

oops...major posting snafu

Edited by leaftye on 08/07/2010 21:08:51 MDT.

alex ollahan
(autograph) - F
re on 08/07/2010 21:12:15 MDT Print View

I guess the spare shirt and pant/short was because I was told for the sake of bears you shouldn't sleep in the same clothes you cook in? Otherwise I have no problem dropping them.

Bandana may work, I had planned on using the towel for drying face/hands after washing and as a potholder. Any other potholder ideas? (mostly for draining water).

I'm also wondering what kind of soap I should have for hand-washing?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: re on 08/07/2010 21:22:04 MDT Print View

You mentioned the Smokies, and that implies that you may be in black bear country, not brown bear country. I would not sweat it with the clothes. Besides, you shouldn't sleep in clothing at all. That is what your sleeping bag is for. At night, my clothing goes underneath my sleeping pad.

Sometimes a single bandana is inadequate for towel use, so I take two.

I carry a tiny plastic 15-ml plastic screw-cap bottle to hold liquid soap. You need only a drop or two at a time.


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/07/2010 22:22:18 MDT Print View

Rule N 1 : whatever item you do not use for more than 3 trips, ditch.
Rule N 2 : whatever item you have ditched you will need on your next trip
Rule N 3 : there are no rules


Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/08/2010 09:09:43 MDT Print View

I know this will blow your budget but here goes.

Take a few materials along so at least you can build a fire if you run out of fuel. Fire steel and some tinder is a good thing.

Later replace your backpack with a mariposa, and tent with a tarptent rainbow. That will save a few pounds. Later get a lighter summer bag or quilt.

Later ditch the heavy kitchen setup and learn how to bag cook. IE when bag cooking instant rice or instant oatmeal, you only have to boil water and there is no cleanup and its lighter. You can boil on a fire, fire in a bush buddy or on a .5 oz alcohol stove.

Actually a bag cook setup is almost free and lightens things up a lot. Start off with the tall country time lemonade container and a 24 oz fosters can to cook in.

Make a beer can alcohol stove. My entire kit stove and all weighs 5 oz.

One of my later stoves.

Pic of fosters can in the container
These containers can handle hot water, so good for coffee tea etc. Put the freezer bag with food inside in the container, pour in boiling hot water, put the top on it and let it stew. Some people wrap them with a pot Cozy. That helps keep the heat in.

Entire kit.
This is a 16 oz kit that is made from a cut down can and the shorter country time lemonade container. Weighs 4oz.

If you are going to change to this setup, you need to cook on it at home and get comfortable with it before you hit the trail.

If those are like mcdonalds plastic utensils, I would go to the dollar store and pick at least one cheap thin metal spoon. Light my fire sporks are okay. Get a titanium spoon or spork later.

48oz of food is not enough for 3 days so you will be hungry. You need at least a 1.5#-2# per day. If a big person maybe 2#, but its only 3 days so its not a big deal if you want to skimp on the food.

Don't find much rope that weighs 1.7 oz so I assume its short. Take a decent length of paracord or 50' of triptease. 50' of triptease only weighs 1.5oz. Good for all sorts of stuff liking hanging your cloths to dry.

Probably need some way to hang your food to keep the critters out of it.

That is light for first aid, but people vary for what they take.

I assume pancho is poncho. If really 1.9oz like a plastic elcheapo job and you really want to stay dry, forget that and get a driducks rainsuit. You can find them online for about $12 I think.

I did not see a pack liner and did not see a pack cover.
Get a trash compactor bag for a liner.

A lot of people just go tablet water treatment only, but I think you need to filter then treat with tablets or chlorine. Get an Aquamira frontier pro filter and look around on how to set it up. They have a charcoal filter section, so filter to take out the big stuff and get rid of chemicals etc then treat to kill bacteria and viruses. You need a dirty water scoop, a dirty water container of some sort, then filter it to clean bottles then treat in the clean bottles. Jason Klas (sp) has a youtube on a setup. Depends a lot on the water source, but in general filter and treat is the safest.

In the mountains you probably need some sort of light insulated top. Take at least a light fleece top. Hit the salvation army.

You probably should take some extra cloths too.

I would not wear bluejeans especially under a poncho.
Been there done it and you end up with soggy legs that never dry. Miserable.
If you have to cross water and they get wet, again never dry. I really prefer to wear jeans, but in the wet outdoors
they can be a real PIA especially if that is all you have.

For a 3 day summer smokey trip, I would wear.
Bike type shorts under, Either poly or smartwool, with zip off leg nylon shorts over. (carry the legs in the pack)
If I thought it would be really hot and humid during the day a thin cotton Tee shirt (yep cotton) cooler when its hot. The only cotton item I would carry.
Sun Hat. (I did not see a hat on your list)
Merino wool socks and running shoes.

In my pack I would carry a set of smartwool long johns and long sleeve top, but I always carry those if I think the temps can dip.
Extra pair of light merino wool socks.
Some wool gloves of some sort. I use them as a pot lifter so I always carry them.
An elcheapo beanie. They weigh about 2 oz.
Bandana, multipurpose
A light insulated top like fleece for you since its cheap but I would carry a SUL insulated jacket like a montbell thermawrap. I use that as a pillow at night.

If doing a water crossing you might want to consider some
water crossing shoes/camp shoes.

Thats a lot of clothes and really for 3 days you can just go with the cloths on your back, and maybe some spare socks
and just use the driducks suit if you get chilly.
You just have to make sure you stay dry.
Only 50dF and wet in wind and you will go hypothermia.
Been there and its miserable.

Actually I don't see quite a few things I would take.

Maybe look at my list as a reference. Might give you some ideas.

alex ollahan
(autograph) - F
re on 08/08/2010 10:08:53 MDT Print View

Wow, thanks for all the tips and info! I'll be in the smokies so a hanging system is alerady in place, I just need to figure out what kind of bag to put the food in.

What's the point in a pack liner? It seems like unless it's tacked down somehow, it's going to get in the way a lot. What's a dirty water scoop and dirty water container? That filter looks like you drink straight out of it, so I don't know how I can chemically treat it after I filter with it?

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/08/2010 10:32:17 MDT Print View

64 oz of water is a little under 2 liters. That seems like a huge amount to me, unless you have long stretches of trail with no water sources available.

You have a huge weight saving you can harvest by getting an ultralight pack. E.g., switching to a Gossamer Gear G4 would save you 2.6 lb.

That's an extremely heavy tent. You can get tents that are under 1 lb, or taps that are about half a pound.

You could replace the 7-oz light with a 0.7-oz Photon Freedom.

You could save 10 oz by switching to a lightweight torso pad:

The quantities of sunscreen and bug spray seem very high to me. For a trip of this length, I would bring about 1 oz of sunscreen and 1 oz of 100% DEET. (I hike in long pants and wear a hat.)

Save 5 oz by swapping out the heavy knife for a little Swiss army knife.

1 oz of duct tape should be plenty for a trip of this length. You can wrap it around a q-tip.

No cold-weather clothes? Sweater? Long johns? An extra pair of socks for sleeping in?

Other items you may need: pen, mosquito head-net, chapstick

Troy wrote: "48oz of food is not enough for 3 days so you will be hungry. You need at least a 1.5#-2# per day. If a big person maybe 2#, but its only 3 days so its not a big deal if you want to skimp on the food."

He's only going to be out for 2 nights, so really this trip might be more like 2.5 days. Mike Clelland, who trains groups of people in backcountry skills and posts here on BPL, finds that the average his clients eat is 1.4 lb/day, but that's just an average. Figures from this thread show that most people on relatively short trips eat about 15-20 calories per day per pound of body weight. For people who don't want to add up all the calories of their food, a typical energy density seems to be about 2000 cal per lb of food.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: first real backpacking trip, help with gear? on 08/08/2010 10:42:47 MDT Print View

Alex, there is also a used gear swap thing here. When your finances permit, you might be able to find many items needed to replace your heavier items. Many of us started out on the heavy side of hiking and have built up over the years into hiking with much less weight. You will be amazed at how many pounds you can shed just be reducing the weight of what you are taking. 6 ounces here, 4 ounces there, 8 ounces here, and 10 ounces there. If you catch my drift. I would look at Six Moon Designs, Tarptent, ULA, Mountain Laurel Designs and many more for items to purchase. Welcome to the obsession!

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Re: re on 08/08/2010 11:21:25 MDT Print View

To keep your stuff dry.
Most people here just have a pack that's one compartment.
The pack liner goes in that and all your gear you care about keeping dry, like cloths, sleeping bag etc go in the bag.

This link will show you how to set up that filter as a gravity water filter.

Dirty water scoop if you want to gravity filter - Basically you dont want to scoop up water with anything you will drink out of unless you treat it.

Cross contamination.

You could just get water in your bottle, treat it with Chorine, then put the aqua mira filter on top and that would be okay. If you are using a 1L bottle you might need a longer tube.

I think the best way to gravity filter is to have a scooper made out of half of a water bottle, a dirty bag like a platy with the bottom cut of you can hang, then tubes and filter.

YOu can also use a platy as-is, fill it close it and press on it and that filters the water faster.

Jason treats his water before he filters it which makes a lot of sense.