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Turk
2005-08-14, 17:05
I had alot of gear grief this year with my hikes and I thought this would
be a really good opportunity to discuss packing pitfalls we all go through.
There are always items I seem to never pack enough of, or habitually pack
too much of. Please share some of your own, and maybe we can collectively come up with some ways to overcome them.

Turk - TOO MUCH:

toilet paper - yep, call it insecurity. But in group hikes, we just always take
more than we need. I guess its in part the embarassment of possibly running out and having to 'bum' it off of another hiker. Also in part, never really knowing just how much you are going to need.

food - I habitually pack an extra 2 days worth of food. I don't know why. I guess it is my location in part. There is never the possibility of resupply, and always the worry of an emergency situation. I guess I should learn to ration
the food I WILLl definately need and learn how to make it last for what I MIGHT need.

batteries - I always have extras, and yet have never had to use them. Should I just let go of worry and trust in tried and tested performance?

repair supplies - I think I carry too much tape. Duct tape and electrical tape.
Even though I carry only a quarter roll of each, I have never had the need of more than a piece or two. I guess it is just hard to cut down on those things that are so multi-purpose.

baggies - I hate to admit this one, but I think I am organized to a fault. I could save alot of weight if I was less anal about being ultra organized inside my pack. I waterproof EVERYTHING. some things, double waterproofed. I just really like to micro-manage everything I keep in my pack. It makes my setups and takedowns in camp so very effecient. But if I could let go of this thinking I could save almost 1 lb in little zip lock baggies and less organization.


NOT ENOUGH:

clothing - it is funny really. I always convince myself I am carrying at least double the amount of clothes I could possibly need, and I always end up wishing I had brought an extra fleece. I habitually freeze my butt off in spring and fall hiking. I really need to learn more about good layering and how to cut weight in clothing but not in temperature rating.

cigarettes - yes I am a smoker. I always ration myself to half the cigarettes per day while hiking, than I would have back in city life. And always .. by the last 2 days of a trip, I am ready to commit cold blooded murder for my nicotene fix. it is SOOOO hard to dicipline oneself to a specified ration of such luxury items you so thoroughly enjoy. Towards the end, your day becomes less and less about making it to your next campsite, and more and more about making it to your next cigarette.

condiments - I try very hard to allow myself a little extra weight for the finer things in life. ketchup, a little salt, some seasoning, etc. But unless I rationed those kinds of things into daily sizes, I always come up short.

bug spray - yep the worst one of all. Its one of those painful realities of camping in northern Ontario. You need to carry almost 1lb in bug dope if you are going to be out for 2 or more weeks. Go ahead and cut that in half and see what happens. I am a repeat offender of this. Makes for miserable days, and shortened meal and rest stops. I use a 90+ percent deet and the old addage that less is more, simply isn't true. The reality of bug spray is, it never lasts as long as the bottle says it will, you can't really predict when and how much you are going to put on. For me it has been a losing battle my entire hiking life. I hate justifying the weight of liquids.

dropkick
2005-08-15, 04:51
Here are my thoughts - for what they're worth...



TO MUCH

toilet paper - yep, call it insecurity. But in group hikes, we just always take
more than we need. I guess its in part the embarassment of possibly running out and having to 'bum' it off of another hiker. Also in part, never really knowing just how much you are going to need.
I think t.p. is a definite necessity, and too much is a good thing.
hint: 1 roll of Scotts, though it weighs more than other rolls, will last for longer than 4 rolls of almost any other brand.
- I wish I could still get the old bi-fold toilet paper that you used to find in public restrooms (like the t.p. that comes with M.R.E.s) it took up much less space and lasted much longer.



food - I habitually pack an extra 2 days worth of food. I don't know why. I guess it is my location in part. There is never the possibility of resupply, and always the worry of an emergency situation. I guess I should learn to ration
the food I WILLl definately need and learn how to make it last for what I MIGHT need.
I always carry a few extra instant soup packets, and a couple of breakfast bars. I figure the minimal space and weight that they take up is worth it, and I have stayed out longer than planned and ended up eating them.
I also think you shouldn't ration until you have an emergency, or your rationing might be the cause of an emergency. If your thinking about your stomach instead of the trail...




batteries - I always have extras, and yet have never had to use them. Should I just let go of worry and trust in tried and tested performance?
I now carry a homemade solar charger along with me, and so have given up the extra batteries.
(link to thread about solar below)
http://hikinghq.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1313
However if your not going to take the solar route, and still want to cut down, get an L.E.D. flashlight that uses aa batteries, the combination is lightweight, and the batteries/bulbs last for a very, very, long time - but still switch the batteries out regularly.



repair supplies - I think I carry too much tape. Duct tape and electrical tape.
Even though I carry only a quarter roll of each, I have never had the need of more than a piece or two. I guess it is just hard to cut down on those things that are so multi-purpose.
My suggestion on this is dump the electrical tape, duct tape will work just as good in a pinch. I don't carry it on a roll, I have some 8" strips stuck to an inside flap on my pack, and some more rapped around a medicine bottle that I carry in my pocket.



baggies - I hate to admit this one, but I think I am organized to a fault. I could save alot of weight if I was less anal about being ultra organized inside my pack. I waterproof EVERYTHING. some things, double waterproofed. I just really like to micro-manage everything I keep in my pack. It makes my setups and takedowns in camp so very effecient. But if I could let go of this thinking I could save almost 1 lb in little zip lock baggies and less organization.
If being organised works good for you, stick with it. Though I would trade in the zip locks for food storage bags and twist ties. They cost less, weigh less, take up less room, are less liable to rip at the seam, and overall I think they do a better job.
(as they are lighter weight they do need more protection from punctures and snags, but I like them much better, and doubled they still weighs less than a single ziplock)



NOT ENOUGH:

clothing - it is funny really. I always convince myself I am carrying at least double the amount of clothes I could possibly need, and I always end up wishing I had brought an extra fleece. I habitually freeze my butt off in spring and fall hiking. I really need to learn more about good layering and how to cut weight in clothing but not in temperature rating.
I recommend bringing a set of sweats, they make great camp clothes in the evenings, keeping you warm but not hot. They're very comfortable, you can wear the bottoms without the top in hot weather, and they also work good if it gets cold, worn as pajamas or as thermal underwear.



cigarettes - yes I am a smoker. I always ration myself to half the cigarettes per day while hiking, than I would have back in city life. And always .. by the last 2 days of a trip, I am ready to commit cold blooded murder for my nicotene fix. it is SOOOO hard to dicipline oneself to a specified ration of such luxury items you so thoroughly enjoy. Towards the end, your day becomes less and less about making it to your next campsite, and more and more about making it to your next cigarette.
Jeeeezs!!! Haven't you been watching the commercials, reading the paper? Haven't they taught you that smokers are lower than whale dung? That your second hand smoke is causing birth defects in Chinese babies! You should never admit that you smoke!!!
Actually, I have no suggestions on this, I support your right to smoke, and feel for you and your withdrawl symptoms.
On the quiting side I offer this in support: If you can make it without smoking (or killing anyone) for 5 days the physical addiction will pass (along with most of the homicidal urges). Then you just have to beat the mental addiction (this normally only takes something like 2 to 10 years).
Another plus about trying to quit - If you actually kill someone they won't let you smoke in prison, so when you get out you should have the urge beat.
About 4 years ago I quit chewing tobbaco, (after 30 plus years of chewing) and I only crave it occasionally now



condiments - I try very hard to allow myself a little extra weight for the finer things in life. ketchup, a little salt, some seasoning, etc. But unless I rationed those kinds of things into daily sizes, I always come up short.

Most of my trail food is preseasoned (either by myself or the company who made it). I do carry a very small salt and pepper (plus a baggie with some garlic powder) but very seldom use them. Normally your food (especially preprepared foods) has more than enough salt in it for the needs of your body, and too much is bad for you. If you stop putting it on your food fairly soon you won't even miss it.
I recommend planning the meals ahead and getting just enough ketchup, mustard, and mayo in packets for the meals.



bug spray - yep the worst one of all. Its one of those painful realities of camping in northern Ontario. You need to carry almost 1lb in bug dope if you are going to be out for 2 or more weeks. Go ahead and cut that in half and see what happens. I am a repeat offender of this. Makes for miserable days, and shortened meal and rest stops. I use a 90+ percent deet and the old addage that less is more, simply isn't true. The reality of bug spray is, it never lasts as long as the bottle says it will, you can't really predict when and how much you are going to put on. For me it has been a losing battle my entire hiking life. I hate justifying the weight of liquids.
I don't carry bug spray, I do carry a bug net, plus a long sleeve shirt and pants for when they swarm.
But they don't seem to attack me as much as they do some people. This might be due to my diet, as I have read that they are repelled by garlic and onion eaters and attracted to people who eat a lot of salt and sweets.
Or it might be genetics, or something else, who knows??

Spice1
2005-08-15, 12:42
Great ideas all around. I'm looking at solar chargers to keep me in flashlight batteries on next year's trip, going to go check out that thread when I get back. (Leaving for the Black Dimaond Mines in about 30 minutes). And the pill bottle duct tape roll works great for me. I keep a film canister full of matches, tinderwads, and a bit of magnesium in my pack, and have the lid painted red, and the outside wrapped in duct tape. Makes it east to find by touch, and I'm also honestly never used more tha a few pieces. Just in case though, I have a bit more wrapped around the frame of my pack.

For bug spray, there is a treatment they gave us while i was in the military which is supposed to be added to your was water. Since bugs seldom bothered me (True about Sugars and salts) I never used it, since chemicals generally scare the shit out of me before I read the warnings, but all my friends said the stuff worked great. Might want to look for that. It's supposed to treat your clothing for two washes, but I doubt it. But it might eliminate your first week's need for deet.

As a smoker, let me recommend rollies. I'm a smoker myself, but when out, I seldom smoke more than a quarter of what I smoke in the city. My trick is that instead of carrying packs fo cigarettes, I carry a bag or rolling tobacco. It's great for a few reasons. 1, It's lighter. 2, You can roll your cigarettes to taste, rolling little pins for small breaks on the trail and cuban cigar sized cones for after dinner. 3, No filters to stuff your pockets with, and if you run out, you can tear down your roaches and make a few more cigs. 3, if you smoke anything other than tobacco, the papers are ultra handy to have on hand. ;)

-Spice

Turk
2005-08-15, 17:40
wow that was really more than I was expecting.
Great ideas though.
I am definately going to look into clothing treatments for a bug spray option.
I had heard of such methods before, but never really investigated them. And I will certainly assess my diet. I had no idea that sugars and salts could be such a contributing factor.

My tape supply I will cut down immediately.

My only worry is the storage baggies for waterproofing. I can see how they would be so much more weight efficient, but do they really keep water out well?

Fantastic inputs. Much appreciated.

dropkick
2005-08-16, 01:50
wow that was really more than I was expecting.
Great ideas though.
I am definately going to look into clothing treatments for a bug spray option.
I had heard of such methods before, but never really investigated them. And I will certainly assess my diet. I had no idea that sugars and salts could be such a contributing factor.

My tape supply I will cut down immediately.

My only worry is the storage baggies for waterproofing. I can see how they would be so much more weight efficient, but do they really keep water out well?

Fantastic inputs. Much appreciated.

Thanks for back pats.

In my experience the food storage bags are better at waterproofing, due to ziplocks tendency of not quite sealing, pretending to close but not closing, and sometimes popping open when pushed from the side.
You can always tell that food storage bags are closed because you gave them a twist and then locked them closed with a twist tie.
(and if you're really nervous you can double bag - still lighter than a ziplock)
Once you try them I think you'll agree with me that they're a better deal all around..

Seeker
2005-08-16, 01:59
the clothing stuff is called permithrin spray (or something like that. i just went out in the garage and checked, but i'm out, or i'd have had the exact name for you. neighbors must be wondering wtf i was doing out there at this hour.) you can get it, or similar, at walmart. it's in the sports dep't with the bug spray and the camp-dry silicone spray. here, it's about $5 a can, but i live in a pretty poor area (someone recently mentioned slingshot replacements at about 2.50, and they were only 1.47 here.) one can will do a set of clothes and a hammock or two sets of clothes. we got issued it going to somalia, and it killed everything. yes, it lasts through two washings. yes it's dangerous. you'll get sick as a dog if you get it on your bare skin while it's wet (sort of like a contact poison). i do anyway. only happened once. harmless (well, ok. not a contact poison to humans) once dried. i do my floppy hat, bug headnet, and hiking shoes with it too.

i use mostly zip locks myself, just for the convenience. but i rely more on my bag liner to keep stuff dry, not the bags inside.

Just Jeff
2005-08-16, 03:16
It's Permethrin and the military issues it to damn near everybody going overseas.

Didn't know you could get it from Walmart, though...good info.

I hear it's bad juju if you get it on you when wet, but I've never heard of anyone having a serious reaction to it when used properly. I'm sure someone's allergic to it and probably popped a third arm or something, but for most folks it's not dangerous (just to the critters).

Seeker
2005-08-16, 11:04
well, that's why i went out to the garage to check... seems the name was a little different, but the effect was the same... long lasting protection against critters, sprayed on clothing and lasting for weeks.

i dunno about the reaction. maybe it was just me. certain perfumes and colognes make me swell up as well, but don't effect others... i use it anyway... i just have to be careful.

Spice1
2005-08-18, 01:06
Decided to google it and answer my own question. Found this:

http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/metiram-propoxur/permethrin-ext.html

I remember the word that scared me on the warning label. Neurotoxin.

I'm not so sure we should be using this stuff and dancing around in the forest, read down a bit in that report, or do a find in document for "fish". Then do Bees. I'm no longer not just scared of this stuff, I think I might be downright opposed to it. Need to read more....

I also found this discussion on whiteblaze...
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-5532.html

dropkick
2005-08-18, 01:45
Decided to google it and answer my own question. Found this:

http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/metiram-propoxur/permethrin-ext.html

I remember the word that scared me on the warning label. Neurotoxin.

I'm not so sure we should be using this stuff and dancing around in the forest, read down a bit in that report, or do a find in document for "fish". Then do Bees. I'm no longer not just scared of this stuff, I think I might be downright opposed to it. Need to read more....

I also found this discussion on whiteblaze...
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-5532.html

While I'm not going to use it, after reading about it I think it is relatively benign insectacide.
While I'm not in any way an expert on this, I used to work in a garden shop many years ago, and I read MANY, MANY, reports on insectacides and herbacides that we either sold or could sell, and compared to most this product actually isn't very scary.

Which could be why I now grow an organic garden and don't use chemical repellants or poisons for any purpose what so ever.

:afraid: :eek:

Seeker
2005-08-18, 10:39
was at walmart last night school shopping. checked it out. brand name is Permanone. 1/2% permethrin. sits right next to the Ultrathon bug spray.

good question about getting it wet. i'll have to do some more research too. thanks for bringing it up.

(now you've all got me wondering about DEET in higher concentrations.)

deadeye
2005-08-18, 13:32
I'll throw in my 2 cents - after all that's what this is all about:

When I smoked (not for 5 yrs now) I used to try to bring enough butts to get halfway through, with the intention of quitting. Ruined a bunch of trips that way, so eventually decided quitting & hiking were separate goals, and brought enough butts to last... and share.

I too always seem to have more than enough food, which means I probably usually carry a pound or two unnecessarily. On the other hand, I always have something to share, I never go hungry, and have some options if I get sick of a certain flavor of whatever.

I worry about keeping food dry, too, but have non-baggie solutions. When in serious bear country, I use a bear canister. When in non-bear country, I pack my food in a monster sized plastic pretzel jar. It's about the same size as my bear can, but only 6 ounces. Keeps food dry and uncrushed, holds about a weeks worth. When carrying less, it will also hold stove and other supplies. Not bear-proof, but can be hung in a stuff sack, and it is mouse, chipmunk and small rodent/bug proof.

The LED and spare tiny battery trick works, and frankly I'm asleep at dusk and hardly use lights at all.

I keep about 2 feet of hunter orange duct tape wrapped around my trekking pole.

Icemanat95
2005-08-18, 14:58
One weakness in the ultralight philosophy is that it leaves you with very few resources to cope with emergencies and the unforseen. While a lot of hikers are still hiking relatively heavy (in comparison to ultralighters) other hikers may provide the working materials needed to deal with things, but that's a pretty crappy way to go about things, being dependent upon others to provide what you need.

So a little extra tape and a few extra baggies or slightly too much first aid kit are NOT bad things. What is one extra pound once you have lightened up all the other stuff?

It's a game of compromises...I've been involved in situations where having a bit of extra kit made a big difference...I've also been in situations where having too little gear lead to dangerous circumstances. It could have been VERY messy and I only got out of it through sheer endurance...I'd rather not go through that again...freezing to death slowly above treeline kinda sucks and frostbite really gets to hurting. I do not recommend it at all.

What would have made things better....A proper wind and waterproof layer to keep me drier and warmer. and more than a liter of water in my pack to keep better hydrated. I was struggling for every 100 yards I travelled, but neither was I too interested in dying, so I kept going and got to safety, but all it would have taken to take that possibility off the table would have been a bad fall (and I had several non-bad falls along the way).

Spice1
2005-08-18, 16:34
Damn, that's a great idea (The pretzil jar) I use a kitchen trash bag that has been cuffed into an old cotton laundry sack. In order to keep stuff from being crushed, I put the bag into my pack, grab the neck of it, and inflate it, giving a twist fold and lashing to kep it inflated. By lunch, it's only slightly deflated, so I pull out lunch, reinflate and go on, same case at diner. Once done, it's already rugged to keep away from critters. Unfortunatly, by day 3 anything you imagined not being mushed is finally flat, your corn noodles look like cornmeal and that broken zilock bag hs got your entire ruck smelling of butter, so you have to hang that up next to your food sack. This week, solo out at the Black Dimond Mines, I used my water bag (a cut off pants leg I've sewed into a day pack, big enough for two nalgenes and my filter) as a food sack, and half imagined finding a snares squirrel the next morening in ll the extra lead line I had tied to the side of the pouch.

I was looking at bear jugs the other day. Ugh, I can't wait until I'm outfitted for this trip and can stop trying to rebuild everthing after "field testing".

Anyways, Time for a noon-tome nap. It's back to work in 6 hours. Ugh, Thursday is the only day when I dread my 15 hour work week. lol.

Definatly going to try to pretzil jug though. Just have to find somebody to eat all the pretzils.

-Spice
-Spice

txulrich
2005-08-18, 17:12
When in non-bear country, I pack my food in a monster sized plastic pretzel jar. It's about the same size as my bear can, but only 6 ounces. Keeps food dry and uncrushed, holds about a weeks worth. When carrying less, it will also hold stove and other supplies. Not bear-proof, but can be hung in a stuff sack, and it is mouse, chipmunk and small rodent/bug proof.



I've often thought of using an empty (you can get new ones from Sherwin-Williams) 1 gal. paint can. I haven't weighed one, but it comes with a handle for hanging and w/the lid sealed, is air and water tight. That would mean no food smells escaping from inside. Thoughts?

Sgathak
2005-08-18, 17:22
Theres a point (based on skill level) where going too light is just plain dumb.

Shave weight where you can. Choose the lightest gear you can. Get rid if every little piece of "snivvle gear" you can... You'll save many many pounds there alone. But when it comes to things like a functional first aid kit, durable shelter, or the ability to make fire when your life depends on it... your just stupid to save a "a few grams".

If you cant get dropped off in the middle of no-where with just the clothes on your back, and KNOW you can survive, then you shouldnt be heading out with some of the rediculously light loads (sub 5lbs?) some people use. Those are little more than glorified survival kits.

deadeye
2005-08-18, 17:38
I weigh every item I carry, literally and figuratively, so that I don't carry stuff I don't need. The most important thing I bring along sits on top of my neck, I endeavor to use it and therby keep it!

I've found it very easy to use the pretzels by putting them in the baggies that I didn't need anymore, and leave them at the office. Gone in short order. I don't see why a paint can wouldn't do the job, provided it's clean, but I expect it's heavier, and certainly has less capacity than the pretzel jar, which I'm guessing (I'll check when I get home) holds about 2.5 gallons.

I can't remember the brand right now, but the bear can I use is essentially a giant nalgene jar. I let a boy scout troop kick it around for a while without damage. I don't use it that often as a pack item - it gets more use for cacheing food in the woods for a re-supply.

txulrich
2005-08-18, 18:08
I don't see why a paint can wouldn't do the job, provided it's clean, but I expect it's heavier, and certainly has less capacity than the pretzel jar, which I'm guessing (I'll check when I get home) holds about 2.5 gallons.

No doubt about the capacity, on the flip side, that means less space in the pack. If you're out for a weekend trip, it might be the best option.

txulrich
2005-08-18, 18:18
I can't remember the brand right now, but the bear can I use is essentially a giant nalgene jar. I let a boy scout troop kick it around for a while without damage. I don't use it that often as a pack item - it gets more use for cacheing food in the woods for a re-supply.

How about Bear Vault, http://www.bearvault.com/bearvault_details.php

Their small one is about 1 3/4 gal capacity, the large is 3 gal.

Obviously, a paint can wouldn't be the right choice for a 10 day trek thru grizzly country. But maybe, a weekend hike in Arkansas, it might be the right choice. The right tool for the given situation?

deadeye
2005-08-18, 22:54
That's the one & I got the big one! 7 days is just about the limit with it, and it weighs about a day's worth of food itself. Like I said, not always the thing I carry, and I hate the extra weight, but it's just what you need when you need it. There is a much lighter bear can out there - carbon fiber, I think - but way out of my price range.

Rage in a Cage
2005-08-19, 00:34
I have used paint cans for food stashes when out hunting. They work well if you don't need to open and close them more than a few times, like on a two or three day trip. They don't hold up well enough for long term use, at least not for me. Maybe I am just to impatient to take my time opening them.

Spice1
2005-08-19, 07:32
I use paint cans for wheatpastings here in the city, and yes, they are light, they are waterproof and presumably smell proof. Unfortunatly, they are aluminum and air tight. If I put warm paste in one and let it cool without opening it, it crumbles in on itself (Pour boiling water in an empty gasoline can and shut it tight and wait, same effect...) Cool paste, and leave it in the back seat, it pops open. And also, after about the fiftieth time you stomp it closed, the groves will die and you'll never get it shut again. However, now that I think about it, if I ever want a SERIOUS wind screen for my stove, I'm going to saw the bottom off one.

-Spice