"The real way to know a little river is not to glance at it here or there in the course of a hasty journey, nor to become acquainted with it after it has been partly civilized and spoiled by too close contact with the works of man. You must go to its native haunts; you must see it in its youth and freedom; you must accommodate yourself to its pace, and give yourself to its influence, and follow its meanderings whithersoever they may lead you."
-- Henry Van Dyke --


Note: I don't take all these items on every trip. This listing is a starting point for the thinking process in preparation for a trip. Factors which dictate what gets taken include: how many will be on the trip to share common gear; anticipated weather conditions (but be prepared for unexpected conditions, too!); weight of the pack after you finish loading it; what doesn't fit into the pack as you finish loading it; personal preference; how many days the trip will last, etc. So print the list if it looks helpful to you and then customize it to your personal needs/preferences. But don't take all of the following stuff!

Emergency gear:
mirror & whistle
spare glasses
waterproof/windproof matches
pliars & picture wire
duct tape
rubber bands
tent repair kit
ThermaRest repair kit
seam sealer
sewing kit
spare cord locks
emergency blanket
backpack repair pieces
spare batteries
Swiss Army knife
50' cord/rope
flashlight & headband
garbage bags (2) (tie type) (pack covers, etc.)

First Aid supplies
Wilderness Medicine (First Aid book)
Bacitracin ointment
Kaopecate caplets
Ben Gay
Band Aids
Alka Seltzer
adhesive tape
safety pins
cough drops
eye cup
pain drugs (Hydrocodone)
antibiotic drugs (ERYC 250 mg)
anti-gas pills
snake bite kit
Advil or Tylenol
lip balm
nail clippers
nose spray
sun block (25)
Ace bandages
antihistimine drugs (Diphenhydramine 50 mg) or Benadryl

If you fish:
fishing pole/lures
Teflon fry pan
filet knife

Health/personal toiletries:
PUR water filter
waterbottles (3)
pack towels (2)
DEET repellant
Iodine tablets
eyeglass strap
hand lotion
clothes pins

cook set
pot lifter
bamboo spatulas
stick matches
Sierra cup
spare gas/ cartridge
white kitchen trash bags (for toting out your garbage)

deck of cards
steno pad/pen/pencil
book(s) to read

Sleeping gear:
tent/ground cloth
sleeping bag
ThermaRest mattress
candle lantern/spare candles (2)

Panoramic camera
spare camera batteries

GoreTex top & bottom
sweatshirt with hood
hiking shorts
spare pants
GoreTex rain hat
camp shoes
hiking boots
socks (hiking & regular)

freeze-dried food
tuna fish/bread/crackers
hot chocolate
licorice bites
mayo packets
jelly beans/trail mix


So, in summary: How much and what should you carry in the pack?

Are you going out FOR exercise? Then carrying extra stuff is part of the "workout." Are you going out to have a good time and take it easy? Then perhaps certain luxury items are just that -- a luxury. Only you can decide and it usually takes several backpack trips to help you in the thought process. No one else can dictate what you should or shouldn't take.

How much food do you want to eat? How involved will food preparation be? Or how much food do you want to carry? Are you a minimalist or extremist? You probably don't even know and won't know until you've done a few trips.

I'm not trying to evade the "how much should I pack" question. It's a good one! But only you can answer it and it will take some experience to know. So yes, the 1st few trips will probably find you carrying superfluous (for you) stuff. The same items might be necessities to me!

How many miles will you be covering each day? How often are you willing to stop and rest? How flat is the terrain? What condition are you in? How many are in your group to share common whole-group items? What will the weather probably be like? What may the weather possibly be like? Will you encounter ice? Or a river or creek to ford? There are far too many variables to dictate right and wrong.

Look at the checklist above again and scratch out stuff you obviously don't need or don't yet possess. Add things you want. Then see if it all fits in your pack. If not (and it probably won't the 1st time!) remove items until it all fits. Then try it on. Too heavy? Take out some more. Eventually you'll come to a mental/physical balance where what is in the pack is carryable and your mind can accept what is left out. And then as you backpack, keep a written list of stuff you should have brought or should have left behind. Experience helps me decide what to take or leave behind on any particular backpack trip.