Aug 7, 2006 at 8:25 am #1219222
aaron eshelmanBPL Member
@djaaronreedLocale: Central Rockies
What is the one essential item, no matter how heavy, you can’t leave at home? Mine… it’s the Thermarest 20 inch Trekker Chair 2 about 11 to 12 ounces. Almost an extra pound, but now that I have the luxury, I won’t leave home without it!
We all probably have one. So what is yours?Aug 7, 2006 at 8:51 am #1360634
@mn-backpackerLocale: Land of 12,000 Loons
The heaviest essential I would never leave at home is my Double Rainbow. :)
Other than that, my BA Insulated Air Core mummy mat. I can’t do closed foam.Aug 7, 2006 at 10:20 am #1360637
Something to write with, and on, for journaling.
When ultralight, I just use the edge of my maps and a golf pencil. For luxury, I take a mechanical pencil, Nalgene Pen, and a Rite-in-the-Rain pad. If I know I’ll write more than what can fit in a mini-pad, I’ll take the slightly larger 48 page version.
The next step up, for serious writing, when I actually go into the wilds to write, is an Alphasmart Dana keyboard.
I still take trips without a camera, and still regret it when I don’t take it. Slow learner, I guess. But a camera of some sort is finding its way into my kit with increasing frequency. Anything from a Pentax Optio WPi for snapshots to a Ricoh GR Digital for high quality but I still want to go light to an Olympus E-500 DSLR with a 14-54mm lens if I’m doing magazine photography. Sometimes I’ll bring both the Ricoh with its 21mm lens (which is lighter than a high quality wide angle lens for the E-500) and the DSLR so I have the ability to do nice landscape shots as well.
When my pack weight is light and mileage is moderate, the Torsolite always replaces a foam pad, a 7 oz penalty for me.
This spring, I took a small wood stove on every trek. The aesthetics of woodfire cooking with a stove that leaves no fire scar was well worth the 5 oz weight of the stove.Aug 7, 2006 at 11:03 am #1360642
Jonathan ChiappaBPL Member
@chiappajLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I’m a flashaholic (obsessed with flashlights) so in addition to my normal hiking lights (River Rock LED headlamp, and a Photon around my neck) I often carry a “throw light”, something that can really light up the woods. It’s often a Streamlight Strion. There is no practical purpose, just my amusement.
Related to Ryan’s camera comment, I also carry a canon SD300.
– JonAug 7, 2006 at 12:30 pm #1360646
A good knife.
The world can go completly pear shaped and with a good knife, you can get along just just fine. I consider a knife to be the most essential of the “10 essentials”
I carry a Mora or Marttiini. 3 or 4 oz for the models I carry.Aug 7, 2006 at 12:55 pm #1360647
Jason SmithBPL Member
A towel is about the most massively useful thing an hiker can have. Partly it has great practical
value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the Presidentials; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of the Lost Coast, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the deserts of the SouthWest; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river ; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of a Ravenous Beast on Trail (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hiker) discovers that a hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, wet suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hike the length and breadth of the trail, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Special thanks to Douglas Adams :-)Aug 7, 2006 at 3:56 pm #1360654
Night clothes and the 2 of the new dual compartment pillows! I always have a pair of Icebreaker long johns (190g, 6.7oz) and a Zone long sleeved top (168g, 5.9oz) so that I can change out of wet/sweaty/dirty day clothes. It is a real psychological thing to know I will soon be oh-so-comfortable in my fresh night gear and nibbling on entrée while deciding which yummy(!) freeze dried it is to be. And with windshirt and WB’s I can often do without further insulation.
Also it keeps my precious down bag a little cleaner! Don’t know how folks hop into an 850 down bag after a few days hiking and expect it too last.
Just discovered the joys of the BPL dual compartment pillows on a recent trip to Norway. I am a bigger bloke so I use 2 stacked on top of each other! Yes, I know… it adds over 60g (2oz) to my pack but the sleep! my ¾ pad is now nearly too luxurious and I am looking at a torso length!Aug 7, 2006 at 4:03 pm #1360655
Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
I am a professional writer and illustrator and often need to have something along to write with for hiking. Usually I take a B4 sized sketchbook, or sometimes an A4 sized. When I really need to have something publish-ready I take along either my (ancient) Psion 5MX (I still consider it the best handheld ever made for writing, though the RAM is too small and the batteries die much too quickly) or, if weight is not much of a problem and the trip is not too long away from a recharging source, perhaps, but rarely, my Alphasmart Dana.
I’m curious why you chose the Dana for backpacking. The rechargeable battery makes it heavy and it eats power quite a bit (about 25 hours?). Why not the Neo, which, with AA batteries and a battery life of about 700 hours, is much lighter and you don’t have to worry about it dying on you while away from civilization for a week or more? The body design is identical to the Dana, except for a smaller screen. The Dana does have the advantage of a full Palm-powererd system with real computer functionality and two slots for interchangeable SD cards, of course…
When I have the money one of my next purchases will be the Neo. I find I just don’t need all the extras of the Dana, especially when I’m hiking.
Still, I’ve been waiting for more than ten years for someone to come out with a small, very light weight, reasonably priced (as the Dana and Neo are) , interchangeable memory card slotted, great keyboard fitted writing machine to travel with. So far nothing really answers all my needs. I imagine something with a rollup keyboard, a rollup screen, and a solar battery charger. I was hoping Psion would survive the computer wars of the late 90’s, but I guess great ideas tend to flounder amidst the bigger bumper cars of commerce.Aug 7, 2006 at 11:30 pm #1360672
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
Last trip it was 750ml of non-alcoholic wine…this spring I carried a Judy Blow Up Doll to compete in the first annual carry something really dumb to race on snow with contest above Winthrop.Wa.Aug 8, 2006 at 2:23 pm #1360704
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
Depending on where I am and in what season, I always think long and hard before I leave my 1-lb Gerber Backpack Axe (=actually just a little tiny hatchet) at home. For me it’s insurance against the Canadian climate the accompanying possibility of finding yourself in a survival situation. Building a big fire fast, getting enough firewood to last from sunset to sunrise, or building a lean-to to get yourself out of trouble is an order of magnitude more difficult using even a good fixed-blade knife. (Granted all the bushcraft I’ve ever done has been with a Mora… but none of it has been when I was in deep doo doo or had a short time before I or someone I loved was dead from being wetted out.)
My girlfriend’s parents had snow last weekend, and they’re not far north of the US border! The next time you are in the bush (especially in the shoulder seasons) take a look at the knife you carry and imagine yourself soaked in icewater just before sunset.
/my 2c CADAug 8, 2006 at 2:52 pm #1360706
Miguel, you’re right. The Neo is a far better backpacking choice. I use Li AA batteries in it while backpacking with the Dana. I originally bought it for coffeeshoppin’ so I didn’t foresee it being useful for backpacking.
Ah, the Psion 5MX. Classic!Aug 8, 2006 at 2:58 pm #1360708
You ever used a baton on the back of that mora? Also, were you using a classic wood handled mora, or a more modern design like the Swedish Army Knife (Craftsman 700 series)?Aug 8, 2006 at 3:36 pm #1360713
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
Mine has a red wooden handle and I’ve had it since the eighties… when I first read Northern Bushcraft I did indeed split wood with it by pounding it with a stick and also with a rock. In my then-young zeal I variously wired it to a stick for a fishing spear, pounded it into a tree for a foothold, skinned and quartered a moose with it, struck flint with it, (never got a fire going that way mind you,) cut doors in snow caves, held meat over fires, etc. etc. Field-sharpenable, tough and cheap, it’s always been a friend to me.
The reason I pack the axe is for the case of surprise dunking or surprise weather… I’ve never had a need of it but I’ve been in parties who have come close. If someone goes into a river or you get pinned down by wet snow you could have maybe 15 minutes to gather a mountain of wood. In Alberta where I grew up there is a lot of dry material and a lot of it is accessible. Here on the coast, though, you have to work for it: I find that a lot of what’s down is rotten and a lot of the mature forests can be basically barren and waterlogged anywhere below the canopy.
I bought the axe after doing a tough stream crossing with my small, not-so-agile sister. I looked down at my knife and looked around to get ready to build a fire if she went in… and the rest was history.
EDIT: PS Ryan, have you considered a compact keyboard with a compact PDA? I write in the bush with a Think Outside keyboard (www.thinkoutside.com) and one of a couple of PDAs. The combo is light, the keyboard is as good as a desktop kb, and you can pick a PDA based on battery life + screen + OS features. In fact you can buy a Think Outside for the iPaq you took to Alaska. BrianAug 8, 2006 at 8:32 pm #1360732
No worries Brian, I was just curious if you were aware of the brutalities a mora can be subjected to. Sounds like you and your knife have survived “The Mors Test” quite well. Hats off to you.
I have no objection at all to carrying an axe. Ericksson makes a very nice one that I have had my eye on for a while.Aug 9, 2006 at 8:07 am #1360749
Me… and getting heavier by the decades.Aug 9, 2006 at 10:07 am #1360762
I picked up one of these for my iPAQ. I like it. The problem is not in the weight of the combo, but the length of the battery life for the iPAQ.
The other thing is that I’m usually typing while reclining on a rock or (gasp, don’t tell the press) sitting under my shelter on a camp chair I made for my TorsoLite pad. The folding keyboard doesn’t really stay rigid (solved with a strip of balsa wood), the PDA falls off (solved with rubber bands), and screen angle is a problem (which I can usually solve by bending the PDA support). So it seems (feels) like a more finicky than necessary system. But yes, it works.Aug 9, 2006 at 10:31 am #1360768
Bill FornshellBPL Member
@bfornshellLocale: Southern Texas
I once found a roll-up keyboerd on a web site. It was waterproof and rolled up small enough to go into a 12oz empty soda can.
On my short list of things I want is a PDA/Cell Phone combo and a remote keyboard of some type.Aug 11, 2006 at 8:23 am #1360926
Peter KingBPL Member
@pkingLocale: N. Nevada
Ryan, please tell us more about the chair you made for the TorsoLite. Is it similar to the sleeve/strap design that Thermarest sells, or a different design? How much does it weigh? Thanks for any details you can give us.Aug 11, 2006 at 7:41 pm #1360972
My Sweetwater filter is heavy compared to the much lighter alternatives but I can’t see my water filtration rig getting much lighter.
It’s definitely essential for me because I love the peace of mind of knowing I can filter down to 0.2 micron and also because I don’t like the chemical tastes of the alternatives.
My modified filter weighs in at 11.45oz for all the parts.(shortened filter cartridge, shortened hoses, slimmed down h2O bottle adapter, 2 siltstoppers (1 at each end), pump, and filter brush)
It’s worth every ounce for some good tasting water.Aug 14, 2006 at 12:35 pm #1361110
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
“When I really need to have something publish-ready I take along either my (ancient) Psion 5MX… or, if weight is not much of a problem and the trip is not too long away from a recharging source, perhaps, but rarely, my Alphasmart Dana.”
I used to follow the market on these things a little closer and the Palm OS Alphasmart products are new to me. That zooms up to the top of my want list! From what I could see on their web site, the Dana will run on AA batteries– do they die quickly or are they pracical to use?
I take a Palm IIIxce for reading old classics and basic note taking, but hand writing is a little slow. I have one of the StowAway keyboards that I think makes a very practical field word proccessor, with the caveat that I have a flat spot to set the thing down– the folding keyboard needs support. I’ve ben looking for one of the GoType! one-piece keyboards, although it is heavier and takes a little more room then the Stowaway. The Palm IIIxce has enough memory and QuickWord works fine for word processing on the go. It’s hard to beat the old monochrome Palms for battery life and weight. And it set me back a whole $5 :)Aug 16, 2006 at 12:51 am #1361188
Doug JohnsonBPL Member
@djohnsonLocale: Washington State
It’s wicked heavy at 1.2 ounces (with batt and headphones) but I truly need my Creative Zen Nano on SUL hikes. Makes it tough to get sub-4 but at then end of an epic day, there’s nothing like TNT by AC/DC to keep the legs moving.
:-)Aug 16, 2006 at 6:28 am #1361194
John S.BPL Member
No way….Unchained by Van Halen is the best to keep the legs moving…kiddingAug 16, 2006 at 9:28 am #1361204
The heaviest item I carry, that could be lighter is my Leatherman Wave at just over ½ pound (8.4 oz.). This is just a reliable versatile tool that has never been a regret carrying.
Yes I could carry a lighter multi-purpose knife, but I really like the Waves’ rounded handle feel when using the pliers. They just don’t dig into your hand like other tools do. The pliers / wire cutter is stronger than the smaller multi-tools. The straight and serrated blade can be opened with one hand. It has locking blades for the straight, serrated, wood saw and file/hacksaw blades, which is a nice safety feature. With the wood saw, you don’t need a hatchet or larger fixed blade knife. Besides, who really needs to cut wood more than 2 inches in diameter for fire or shelter?Aug 16, 2006 at 11:18 am #1361213
@mitchellkeilLocale: Deep in the OC
Well for my aching 57 year old bones and a good night’s sleep, I pack my 78″ BG insulated Aircore pad. 2.5″ of pure bliss! (And in the winter I pack the equally heavy 3″ thick Downmat shorty by Exped.)
And for my total and complete comfort when sitting, I often carry my SlingLite chair, a unique contraption invented by a local guy in Costa Mesa CA. Weighs in at 20oz and probably the most comfortable chair I have ever found or used. Check it out at http://www.shopping.com/xPC-Crazy_Creek_Crazy_Creek_Cradle_Lounger_Camping_Chair.
These are my picks for decadent weight hogs.Aug 19, 2006 at 12:34 am #1361372
After losing my trusty Visor Deluxe Palm device (with GPS) to a purse-snatcher, I’ve been using a Palm Treo 650, with a very small Bluetooth GlobalSat GPS transmitter. Into the Treo go books (I read through 2 on an 8-day backpack in the Olympics), topo maps for the GPS, and the work I need to do for my job. It is also a good cell phone if one is in range. I carry 2 spare batteries, and those lasted fine throughout the 8 days, even with the GPS on for several hrs. When outside of cell range, I carry at GlobalStar 1600 satellite phone, so I can check to make sure my elderly mother is OK (we live in an isolated area). These gadgets DO add up, but still, the overall weight of my entire “emergency and gadget” fanny pack with the 10 essentials (except food & water), a camera, and these gadgets amounts to 4.5 pounds….and I could handle a night out without my pack with its contents.
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