2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Water, Water, Water


Lessons Learned:

  1. Water is heavy
  2. Invest in your formula
  3. Don’t carry what you’re not going to drink
  4. Cow slobber/sh*t water needs flavoring
  5. Trial and error is required to find your vessel and treatment solutions

How Much to Carry?

At 2.2 pounds per liter, water is one of the heaviest items in your pack. So rather than arbitrarily starting a trip with 3-4 liters, I’ve learned it’s better to research available water sources. I’d much rather stop every few miles and replenish my water supply than carry the extra weight.

Figuring out how much to carry is based on a formula adjusted for conditions.  It takes time to build your own formula.

I drink more when I’m:

  • hot
  • ascending
  • at altitude
  • snowshoeing

When I started backpacking, I would track how much water I was carrying and how much I had left when I got to a water source. Then I could calculate how much I was drinking per mile and per hour based on conditions. The goal was to get to a reliable water source with none or very little in my pack.

This gets trickier in unreliable water areas and since I worry about dehydration I tend to carry extra as insurance.

Unless you camp near water, you also need to calculate how much water is needed for dinner, breakfast as well as hiking to camp and to the next water source. In general 3 liters is my magic number.

How to Carry?

I’ve found through trial and error that I like soft water bottles like Evernew. I have one marked for dirty water. The 1500ml size is my preference. I sometimes also carry a 600ml plastic bottle for when I want to add flavorings to my water. I’ll be testing CNOC 2L Vecto bags over the upcoming months.

I started with a bladder in my pack but discontinued because I didn’t like

  • worrying a about a leak
  • not knowing when I needed to refill
  • taking apart my pack to refill

I’ve tried a variety of bottles and while they work for some people they never found a permanent place in my pack.

Capacity is a consideration. I prefer smaller 1.5 liter storage containers to 3 liter because they fit my hands better and I feel like I have more flexibility when it comes to how many to fill. However, I switch to 3 liter in the desert where I have to carry larger quantities between sources.

Remember water is heavy, so figuring out where to carry that weight in your pack is an important consideration.

How to Treat?

Like most other things in backpacking I’ve tried several different systems. I currently use the Sawyer Squeeze filter although I prefer using the water treatment tablets such as Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets. I will be testing the Katadyn BeFree filter over the upcoming months.

Prefilter/Scoop:

Filter:

  • I squeeze from my “dirty” Evernew bottle into a clean bottle (I use a black hair tie around top to flag as dirty).
  • It’s time consuming.
  • I’d prefer using inline so I can scoop and go but the current Squeeze version doesn’t work.
  • I really hate protecting the Sawyer Squeeze from freezing and have had to replace a couple times when I’ve forgotten (sadly the BeFree has the same issue).

Chemical:

  • Carrying water for 20-40 minutes without being able to drink is not very weight efficient
  • I like drinking at a water source (cameling up) so I can be hydrated without carrying extra weight but with chemical treatment it’s not an option.
  • I’m lazy and sometimes compromise especially in cooler temperatures.
  • I prefer Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets over Aquamira liquid drops.

Flavoring and Additives:

  • Although I prefer unflavored water, I’ve had to in nasty situations especially in cattle country.
  • There are a lot of options but my favorites remains cold coffee or Orange/Grape Crush.
  • Electrolytes are important when sweating and drinking a lot. There are plenty of options but I’ve found I prefer to eat pink Himalayan salt rather than having flavored water.

How to Drink?

I prefer drinking from a hydration hose as I’m hiking. I can’t reach bottles easily and don’t like to stop to drink. I got the Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System to use with my Evernew bottles (ebay is best reseller). Many attach their Sawyer directly to a bottle and squeeze as they go. This can be an efficient system.

How to Clean?

When I get to town, it’s time to refresh my water systems. My preference is to use a little bleach in my water bottles, drinking hose, etc. If I’m on a long-distance hike without access to bleach I use denture tablets. Backflushing the Sawyer Squeeze takes a bit more effort than simply using the provided syringe or another system. I’ve had the most success following Sawyer’s advice of soaking it in a very vinegar hot water solution before banging the sides and flushing. I’m hoping for easier maintenance with the BeFree system. I know it won’t last as long at an estimated 250 gallons versus 100,000 gallons with the Squeeze. I average 1-1.5 gallons a day when backpacking and usually backpack at least 60 days per year so that means around 100 gallons per year. At less than $20, I consider it reasonable to replace my filter every year or two.

When and How to Cross?

Water crossings are an accident waiting to happen. I’ve had several minor injuries trying to keep my feet dry. Logs and rocks can be tippy and slippery. Vertigo is common when looking at rushing water. If I have a choice I’ll typically walk through (ford) rather than worry about injury. In swift water, I carefully evaluate crossing options. I honor the saying, “turnaround don’t drown” when I can’t find a safe crossing. Camping and waiting until morning is an option during snowmelt.

Links:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Electronics and Technology


Lessons Learned:

  1. A good power bank (battery) is essential.
  2. Invest in learning how to use devices and apps.
  3. Apps have improved my experiences.
  4. Electronics are a tool but dead weight if not utilized.
  5. Photography is a huge part of every adventure.
  6. Accident insurance is worth every penny.

Although hefty, electronics have become a weight penalty I’m willing to accept as I find great value and enjoyment from technology. I still prefer carrying a camera to using the one on my phone as I don’t find the quality comparable. Additionally my phone uses far more battery than my camera. I also prefer map apps on my phone to a GPS device. I find phone apps to be more user friendly with more flexibility. Having a satellite communication devise is non negotiable. It holds me accountable and keeps me more responsible while also offering a safety and security.

Phone:

Rarely do I have cell signal while hiking and backpacking. I keep my phone on airplane mode and primarily use it for the following functions:

  • Map Apps – I currently use Gaia as my primary digital mapping and tracking app. I pay for premium membership which includes helpful layers such as National Geographic, National Parks, USFS, snow levels, fire history, geology, etc. You can find great tutorials on YouTube and the Gaia blog. I also use Avenza and wrote this blog post with helpful tips, Hiking with Geospatial PDF Maps (Avenza).
  • Trail Specific Apps – There are general apps such as All Trails and REI’s Hiking Project which help you find nearby trails and provide user comments as to current conditions.
  • Park Specific Apps – I’ve gotten in the habit of checking the app store before going to a State for National Park as often they have their own apps which are helpful in planning and gaining insights.
  • Identification Apps – This is one of my favorite features of smart phones. I have several wildflower apps. It’s worth checking to see if there are ones specific to a particular area you’re visiting. Another favorite app is Peak Finder where I can take a photo of mountains and it adds names and elevations. It helps me later when I’m looking at my photos. Other fun apps I use are related to geology, astronomy and scat and tracks. I also have helpful apps such as ones focused on first aid, knots, and slope angles. One in particular helps me level my car when using it as a sleeping vehicle.
  • E-Books – I spend a lot of my down time reading so having books available on my phone is a necessity.
  • Screen Shots – I use this in conjunction with my maps to note location on map showing feature I may have photographed with camera. I also use it to note time I was at certain places and the associated stats from my tracker.
  • Camera/Video – I tend to use my phone for selfies and videos.

Battery life is an important feature for me since I’m fairly dependent on my phone, especially as a navigational aid. It’s at the top or near the top of the list when I’m looking for a new phone. Tip: investigate best ways to extend battery life on your particular phone.

Satellite Communicator:

My inReach is my security blanket, plus it keeps me accountable and responsible. I’m diligent about using it consistently so if my pings disappear hopefully someone will notice and begin the process of finding out if I need help or if I had a technology failure.

The key function is SOS which utilizes a satellite network. After carrying this device for several years, I had to push the SOS button in 2018. It worked as expected. Be sure to set up your emergency contacts online in advance. Here’s the link to the details of my experience: Life Interrupted . . . Forever Grateful for the SOS Button

One of the reasons I chose inReach over other units was the two-way texting option. Competitor products may have this as a feature now as well. Not only do I use this for check-ins but also for urgent issues. Examples:

  • While hiking the PCT in Washington, my power bank (external battery) was failing. I was able to contact a friend who had a replacement shipped to my next resupply town.
  • It had been raining for multiple days and I wanted/needed a hotel room. I texted a friend and she made a reservation and texted back with confirmation.
  • My mom fell and broke her hip. My niece messaged me and I was able to stay in touch while she underwent emergency surgery.

Most of these devices require a subscription service. Garmin has several plans including a flexible option which allows for putting the unit on vacation mode. Since I’m on a budget I have the safety plan which includes unlimited preset messages. This allows me to have tracking without paying the tracking fee. I send a message at the beginning and end of my trip indicating the location of my car, every evening and morning from my campsite, and each time I change trail or find myself crossing sketchy terrain including uncomfortable water crossings. I can also text any major change of plans.

I’ve been using this unit for many years without incident. I consider it an essential item and wouldn’t hike without a satellite communicator.

Camera:

While phone cameras have significantly improved over the past decade, I still prefer my camera for a few reasons.

  • Battery Life – I can usually get about 500 photos per battery on my camera, which can then be recharged from my external battery; however, I usually carry an extra in case of battery failure. I’ve also had memory card failures so I keep one in my emergency kit. Yes there is a small weight penalty for these non-essential items but because photography adds to my experience it’s worth it to me. Taking photos on my phone drains the battery quickly.
  • Photo Quality – I’ve never had a phone that takes the same quality images.  When I compare side-by-side photos taken at the same time, there is no contest. If I were just taking photos for instagram or facebook, my phone would be fine.
  • Photo Processing – I takes tons of photos. It’s rare I come back from an outing with less than 500-1000 images. I download the memory card to my computer where I can review, edit, organize, back up and share.

External Battery (Power Bank):

  • Size – There are lots of options from which to match your needs. I carry an Anker with 10,000 mAh. It usually keeps my phone charged for up to a week, even while running my Gaia tracker, plus if needed I can use for camera, inReach and headlamp. Anker has been a reliable brand for long distance backpackers for many years. You’ll want to do plenty of research to determine price, weight, fast charge, input/output options, etc. This Anker power bank (Amazon link) is a good starting point.
  • Cords – I found short cords to provide more efficient charge than longer ones (Amazon link). Research indicates it’s most efficient to recharge your phone when it’s no less than 30% and to stop at 80%.
  • Wall Charger – If you plan to recharge along your journey, you’ll want a light, small and fast charger. Once again I recommend Anker but don’t have one to recommend as I haven’t done the research recently.
  • Solar Charger – There are very few instances I’d carry a solar charger. Those include when I plan to be out for more than a week and/or I’m primarily dependent on my phone for navigation. Even then I’d be more likely to bring two power banks. The reasons are:
    • Weight of solar charges are usually more or similar to a power bank.
    • You still need to carry a power bank as few devices accept the trickle charge provided by a solar charger.
    • You need to be disciplined about placing the solar charger in direct sun during your breaks (while keeping the power bank in the shade)
    • Solar charges aren’t very efficient when they aren’t in the direct sun for long periods of time. While you can mount on your pack, the panels are rarely in alignment with the sun.

Insurance:

I have a history of having accidents with my electronics while hiking.

  • Camera #1 – dropped in a creek, but rescued and saved with the rice/freezer method, only to break the screen a few months later when I sat on it on a concrete bench.
  • Camera #2 – chipped the lens

Then I discovered Squaretrade Accident Insurance.

  • Camera #3 – dropped in the sand, outside my insurance period. I think I might have bought 2 years, now I buy 4 years.
  • Camera #4 – dropped in the sand. Sent in for repair under accident insurance.
  • Camera #4 – dropped on rock, shattered screen. Sent in for repair under accident insurance.

When I purchased my inReach and my phone, I added the insurance. It’s worth the peace of mind knowing something might happen on that first outing. The cost is very reasonable and is related to the price you paid for the item.

Loss Prevention:

  • Add your name and phone number to your items to help it find it’s way back to you
  • Add some duck tape or other easily identifiable tape to make it easy to differentiate your items from another hiker especially in areas where you might be sharing recharge plugs.

Related Posts:

Links:

DIY – Phone/Camera Case . . . made from Frogg Toggs Pouch

If you buy the ultralight suit or poncho from Frogg Toggs, I bet you find it difficult to toss the storage pouch. A few years ago I started using one to store maps in my car. A friend said she uses one for her microspikes. Previously I used a dry bag to make a phone/camera case (blog link) but it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. With it worn out it was time for replacement so as I dug through my supplies I found these pouches and decided to give it a try.

The poncho pouch is larger and has more usable fabric. The ultralight suit pouch has a snap on the back which you need to work around.

Supplies:

  • 2 Frogg Toggs pouches (or other fabric)
  • 2-4 Pieces of thin plastic (size of phone)
  • Magnetic closure (or velcro) (Amazon Link)
  • Double fold bias tape or something similar (Amazon Link)

Step 1 – Construct Top of Phone Compartment

My phone is 6.25″ x 3″, so I made a double layer piece 8.5″ x 4″ with 2 thin pieces of plastic sandwiched between. Stitch together.

Step 2 – Construct Top of Camera Compartment

My camera is 4 x 2.5″ x 2″. I cut the fabric 6.5″ x 3.5″. I didn’t double layer this section instead I rolled over the top and stitched at about 1/4″. I ran a gathering stitch along the bottom so I could factor in the 2″ depth of my camera.

Step 3 – Create Closure

I had some double fold bias tape so decided to use it for the closure (Amazon Link). I reused the magnetic closure (Amazon Link) from my previous case. Each piece is 4″ in length. Tip: it’s much easier to enclose the magnet in fabric than it is trying to sew it on to the fabric. I tested placement of the magnetic with my camera in the pouch then stitched the magnet in between the tape then stitched it to the front of the camera pouch. Be sure the bump of the magnetic is facing outward.

Step 4 – Finish Camera Pouch

Mount the camera pouch on the top piece of the phone pouch. You’ll want to adjust margins to allow for the depth of your camera leaving a little wiggle room so you can retrieve and replace camera without too much effort. You can see how the magnetic is sewn on as well as the gathered bottom. This fabric doesn’t unravel so I didn’t need to finish seams.

Step 5 – Create Attachments

Once again I used the double sided bias tape as well as velcro. I wanted a loop so I also added a piece of cord. For each pack attachment, I used a 7″ piece of bias tape with 1.5″ of velcro.

Step 6 – Create Back of Pouch

This piece started as double thickness 6″ x 8.5″. I sandwiched the magnet tab between the two pieces, as well as a couple pieces of the thin plastic. I then cut the flap at an angle.

Step 7 – Connect Attachment Straps and Loop

Stitch the velcro straps slightly smaller than the width of your backpack straps. For mine that was about 2.5″.

Step 8 – Complete Pouch

Attach the front and back pieces. Trim edges and round corners for best fit.

Step 9 – TEST!

This new design needs more trail time. I’ll report back after I’ve used it for a while.

Link to more of Jan’s DIY/MYOG projects

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

DIY – Sleeping Bag to Quilt Conversion

What do you do when your sleeping bag is no longer meeting your expectations?

Obviously the easiest answer is to buy a replacement. But for someone like me who is both frugal and likes custom products, this wasn’t my first choice. In 2013 I purchased a Zpacks 10-degree down bag for $440. That was a huge investment for someone not yet a dedicated backpacker. I loved the weight but always felt cramped and as time went on less warm than I’d like. I initially added to the length of my bag by using a down throw I picked up at Costco for $20 (blog link) .

The additional length was an improvement so the next year I was inspired to customize further so I removed the zipper and added 6 more ounces of down (sourced from Ripstock by the Roll). After shaking all the down to one end you can see why I was having trouble staying warm. The down just wasn’t lofting sufficiently after about 6 years of use.

After doing some research I decided to use the bathtub method. I got in the tub with my bag and the down. Closed the door and shower curtain and got busy stuffing the channels. I used binder clips to close each section after stuffing. This worked quite well to contain the down and minimize loss (and mess).

The dimensions I determined optimal were based on the following calculations.

Length – Add 10″ to your height to determine length

Top Width – Add 10″ to your shoulder girth measurement to determine top width

Footbox Width – Reduce 10″ from the top width.

They ended up being perfect! I used a down throw to extend the size (Amazon link).

You’ll want to review quilt designs to determine which hardware system you think might work best for you. I started with the idea of attaching my quilt to the pad but found I didn’t need or like it (as shown in below photo). A few systems to review include Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, and Katabatic Gear. My preference is four flat buckles attached to the long edges with webbing. My placement is one at the top, another about 14″ below. Then one about 14″ up from the bottom and another 10″ higher. Most often I sleep with the lowest and highest buckled and only use the others on colder or breezy nights. I also tried several types of footbox closures. I found I preferred a sewn footbox to a snapped or tied version (early version shown in this photo).

I finished these first alterations in 2018. Since then I removed the elastic and just use the clips and created a sewn footbox. Having slept under this quilt for 150-200 nights in 2019, I think I’ve given it a fair evaluation and thus give it a resounding A.

Hardware:

  • Flat Buckles (sourced from Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, Ripstock by the Roll, or Katabatic Gear)
  • Webbing or elastic to use with buckles

According to Zpacks, their current 10-degree quilt with similar dimensions weighs 25 ounces, nearly 9 ounces less than mine. I could easily drop some weight by remaking it with the same dimensions and amount of down.

It’s a really great 3-4 season bag and it’s rare I regret carrying it. The only time I wish I had a lighter bag is in really warm summer temperatures (> 50F) which I try to avoid as I don’t like hiking in the heat. However, to solve this problem I recently made a summer quilt from one of these down throws (blog link).

Link to More DIY Projects

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

DIY – Summer Quilt . . . how to convert a down throw

Many have heard of the down throws sold by Costco and other vendors (Amazon link). I used one to convert my zpacks down sleeping back into a quilt and another to make a skirt, slipper, leggings and mittens (blog link). Finding my three-season quilt too warm for the hottest summer months, I decided to use another to make a summer-weight quilt. I’ve heard these are comfortable to 45-50F. I’m a warm sleeper so I’ll amend with my experience after some use.

Materials Needed

  • Down Throws (60″x70″), most will need to use two. You can also use a down sleeping bag or blanket, etc.
  • Flat Buckles (sourced from Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, Ripstock by the Roll, or Katabatic Gear)
  • Webbing or elastic to use with buckles

Step 1 – Calculate Dimensions

Length – Add 10″ to your height to determine length

The quilt is 70″ long. I’m 64″ tall and found 72″ finished product length to be just right for me when I made my 3-season quilt. Mine is long enough I can throw over my face occasionally. For this project I decided to leave it 2″ short initially. I can add extra later if I find I want to option in the summer.

Top Width – Add 10″ to your shoulder girth measurement to determine top width

The quilt is 60″ wide. I’m have a loose shoulder girth measurement of about 45″. Adding 10″ makes my final top width 55″.

Footbox Width – Reduce 10″ from the top width.

For me that made it a 45″ width footbox.

Step 2 – Add Length and/or Width

Use the second quilt to add length or width to the base quilt. I included tips on a previous post when I added length to my zpacks bag before I converted it to a quilt (blog link). I still need to write my sleeping bag conversion post; maybe this will motivate me.

Step 3 – Measure Twice (at least), Cut Once

  1. Use a straight edge to create width angle. A sturdy tape measure worked for me. Mark the line. I use chalk.
  2. Sew on both sides of the chalk line leaving about 1/2″ in between.
  3. Cut between the sewn lines (this helps contain the down).
  4. Repeat for opposite edge using the initial cut as a template.
  5. Finish the edge. I zigzag and then roll and straight stitch to make a clean edge.

Step 4 – Create Footbox (optional)

I tried several methods when I created my 3-season quilt. I found I preferred a sewn footbox to a snapped or tied version.

  1. Verify you are working on the narrow end.
  2. Connect the sides by zigzagging together the lower 4-6″.
  3. Match the bottom edge, right sides together, placing your connected seam in the middle.
  4. Sew together the bottom edge. To eliminate air entry you want to have a good seal. I used a tight zigzag stitch, repeating a second time. I put the seam on the inside of my footbox.

Step 5 – Add Hardware

You’ll want to review quilt designs to determine which system you think might work best for you. I started with the idea of attaching my quilt to the pad but found I didn’t need or like it. A few systems to review include Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, and Katabatic Gear. My preference is four flat buckles attached to the long edges with webbing. My placement is one at the top, another about 14″ below. Then one about 14″ up from the bottom and another 10″ higher. Most often I sleep with the lowest and highest buckled and only use the others on colder or breezy nights.

Final Weight: 14 ounces.

Ready to test! It should be good for temperatures around 45-50F. I’ll update post once I have more experience using it.

Link to More DIY Projects

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Navigation and Planning


Lessons Learned:

  1. All miles are not equal.
  2. I’d rather hike than plan.
  3. Flexibility and back-up options are good plans.
  4. Learning to read maps is a valuable skill.
  5. Navigation skills are gained through experience.
  6. Being lost or disoriented is frightening.

Planning:

  • I remember being a planner. I enjoyed the process but somewhere along the line it became more of a burden and I learned to be prepared but not to worry about the details. This philosophy works better when:
    • I’m hiking solo and don’t have to provide expectations or details to others
    • My time is flexible and I can enjoy the journey rather than worry about being driven by time and location
  • These days planning for me includes:
    • Usually having a paper map.
    • Downloading digital maps for offline use.
    • Photographing pages from my trail books or taking screen shots from web pages or saving web information to an offline app such as Pocket.
    • Obtaining permits and getting updated trail/road conditions information from ranger stations and visitor centers.
    • How many days of food do I want to carry?
    • Where’s my first water source?
    • How do I get to the trailhead?
  • Many hikers like to plan for each night’s campsite with daily mileage goals. With limited vacation, many have to get permits 6 months to a year in advance. The process becomes more complicated the more people in a group. This process leads many to what I call analysis paralysis whereby worry or detailed thinking takes priority over actually doing.

Mileage:

Predicting daily mileage is a huge challenge since a trail is rarely consistent. These factors slow me down:

    • Heat
    • Technical terrain
    • Trail obstacles
    • Sustained elevation gain
    • Routes requiring navigation skills
    • Carrying too much weight (usually water or seasonal extras)
    • Being out of shape

I track most of my hikes using a phone app. I’ve done this for many years and one of the best tools is daily mileage per hour versus active miles per hour. The daily average takes into account breaks, for me that means a lot of photo and breathing stops. I also pay attention to elevation gain and loss since those affect my average and also are a telltale sign of my current fitness level.

Navigational Skills:

  • Map Reading – I love maps, so learning to decipher the details has been fairly easy although there are still a few things that give me pause. There are plenty of resources to help you gain map and compass skills but practice and curiosity have been my keys.
  • Digital Maps and Tracking – Using the tracking feature on digital maps has improved my skills and confidence in areas such as these:
    • I can compare where I think I am intuitively to where I am in reality.
    • When a trail disappears on the ground, I can verify that I’m nearby and heading in the correct direction.
    • When there isn’t a trail, I can verify I’m heading toward my trajectory and can adjust based on topographical lines.
    • I like to mark my track with waypoints that might be useful on future trips or during my exit such as water sources and campsites. I’ll indicate whether the water source is seasonal or is a wet feet crossing.

I currently use Gaia as my primary digital mapping app and pay for premium membership which includes helpful layers such as National Geographic, National Parks, USFS, snow levels, fire history, geology, etc. You can find great tutorials on YouTube and the Gaia blog. I also use Avenza and wrote this blog post with helpful tips, Hiking with Geospatial PDF Maps (Avenza).

I don’t have an internal compass or landscape memory. I work really hard at “staying found” as they say when teaching map and compass classes. I know I’d struggle if I couldn’t depend on my phone but I’m very aware of that possibility and try to take precautions. Obviously I could drop and break it, lose it, or run out of battery (although I carry an external battery to minimize this risk).

Itinerary and Safety:

I’m the first to admit that I’m not very responsible when it comes to leaving a detailed itinerary with friends and family. Of course this directly relates to my lack of planning, and even more so to my disdain to commitment. My way of staying responsible and accountable is a little different than many but works for me.

  1. I have a network of friends/family who I text my loose itinerary which basically says the trailhead from which I plan to start, how many days of food I’m carrying, and my exit date ETA.
  2. I’m faithful about using my inReach for check-ins. I send a message at the beginning and end of my trip indicating the location of my car, every evening and morning from my campsite, and each time I change trail or find myself crossing sketchy terrain including uncomfortable water crossings. I can also text any major change of plans.

I wrote this blog post after working with SAR teams on rescues where they lost significant search time not having this information, Dear Friends & Family, If I become a Missing Person . . .

Links:

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . Bug Management


Lessons Learned:

  1. Prevention is better than consequences
  2. Pesky pests are my enemy
  3. Be prepared for war
  4. Life is better with pain and itch relief
  5. Evasion is a great solution

Prevention:

  • Pre-Treatment

I consider Sawyer’s Permethrin my secret weapon in this war against unwanted pests. I spray my hiking garb (long sleeve shirt, skirt, tall gaiters, shoes, gloves and hat), as well as my pack and the mesh on my tent. This treatment lasts 6 weeks or 6 washings so I usually try to time it with my first big bug outing. Tip: read the instructions especially regarding cats and also take precautions to protect yourself.

  • Protection

I prefer wearing body armor in the form of clothing rather than repellent, but since I’m also sensitive to heat I usually have some exposed skin that needs protection.

      • Clothing – long sleeve shirt, skirt, tall gaiters, shoes, gloves and hat plus headnet
      • Chemical – I start with least harmful and work my way up the spectrum if needed. These are my product preferences for ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes.
  • Evasion
    • Running is not a great solution, but it does work for short stretches.
    • When all else fails, hide in your tent. That’s my tactic during those highly pesky dusk and dawn hours.

Treatment:

I tend to get bacterial infections from bites and am extremely sensitive so for me it’s worth carrying something for pain and itch management.

First Aid:

  • Tick Key (don’t forget to save the tick)

Gnats:

These things are evil. They drive me batty and it seems they show up when I find myself without my headnet. One little trick I’ve learned is to hang something from my hat or buff that swings in front of my face while walking. I find that tall dry grass works best but I’ve also used pine needles.

Links:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

 

 

 

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – A Decade of Lessons Learned . . . What’s In My Pack?


Lessons Learned:

  1. It’s an evolving process of trial and error.
  2. Choices are unique.
  3. Compromise is expected.
  4. Keep it simple.
  5. Weight matters.
  6. Plan for repairs, revisions and replacements.
  7. Label your stuff; loss happens.

Base Weight:

My standard base weight is 14-16 pounds. The items in italics are seasonal/conditional extras.

  • Pack
    • Gossamer Gear Mariposa
    • Gossamer Gear Pack Liners x2
  • Shelter
    • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 with ground cloth
    • Gossamer Gear Titanium Hook Stakes 6.5″ x 8
  • Sleep System
    • Custom DIY Quilt (modified from ZPacks 900-fill down 10-degree bag)
    • ZPacks Dyneema Dry Sack (for quilt when raining)
    • Big Agnes AXL Air Mattress (replaced with Thermarest Xtherm when temps drop below freezing)
    • Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight Foam Mattress (also part of pack frame)
    • Klymit Medium X Pillow with Buff as pillowcase
  • Kitchen
    • Jetboil Ti-Sol Stove and Cookpot (no longer sold) (in water shortage areas I’ll forego cooking)
    • Ziploc Twist ‘N Lock 12 oz container (for rehydrating meals)
    • Nylon Ditty Bag and 1/4 Sheet Disposable Towel
    • Sea to Summit Long-Handled Spoon
    • Ursack and Opsak (replaced with Bear Canister when required)
  • Hydration
    • Sawyer Squeeze, Full Size (may use water treatment tablets instead in below freezing temps)
    • Evernew 1500ml Bags, quantity 2-4 with one marked as dirty bag (may bring 700ml SmartWater Bottle)
    • Scoop and Prefilter (made with Platypus 0.5L, Steripen Filter Cartridge and, SmartWater Bottle Flip Top)
    • Insulated Tube, Mouthpiece and Bottle Adapter
  • Sleep Clothes
    • Icebreaker Merino Tights
    • Ibex Merino Hooded Long Sleeve Top
    • Smartwool Merino Socks
    • Smartwool Merino Glove Liners
    • DIY Down skirt, slipper leggings, mittens (winter below freezing conditions)
    • DIY Microfleece Balaclava
  • Clothing Layers
    • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket
    • Patagonia Hooded Houdini Rain/Wind Jacket
    • Melanzana Beanie
    • Gloves/Mittens (various depending on conditions)
    • Rain Gear (Frogg Toggs UL Jacket, Pants and/or Poncho)
  • Extra Clothes
    • Underwear x1
    • Injinji Toe Socks x1
  • Toiletries
    • Poo Kit (Bidet, Dry Wipes, Dr Bonners, Deuce of Spades Trowel, Doggie Poo Bag, DIY Ditty Bag)
    • Toothbrush, Paste and Floss
    • Eye Drops
    • Lotion with Sunscreen
    • Foot Ointment
    • Ibuprofen and Vitamins
    • Lens Cleaner
    • Disposable Towel (1/4 size)
    • Earplugs
    • Odor Neutralizer Bar
    • Diaper Pins
    • Ziplock (pint size freezer bag)
  • Electronics
  • First Aid and Emergency Preparedness
    • Inhaler primary and backup
    • Pain reliever (ibuprofin, excedrin, norco)
    • Stings/bites (benadryl, pepcid, anti-itch & antibiotic ointments, antiseptic and alcohol wipes)
    • Blisters/cuts (Leukotape-P, gauze, moleskin, steri-strips, needle)
    • Tummy/intestinal (pepcid, imodium)
    • Heat exhaustion/dehydration (Pedialyte)
    • Repairs (super glue, tenancious tape, needle and floss)
    • Hydration tube bite valve (backup)
    • Chapstick (backup)
    • Hairband (backup)
    • Water treatment drops (backup)
    • Mini lighter and fire starter
    • Emergency Poncho
    • Sharpie for notes
    • Ziplocks x2 (pint size freezer bag)
    • Compass
    • Multitool (Leatherman CS)
    • Pepper Spray (grizzly spray when applicable)
    • ID, emergency contacts, medical history, advanced directive, permits in opsak
  • Miscellaneous (seasonal/situational)
    • Bug Management:
      • Bug headnet
      • Bug repellent
      • Tick Key
    • Sunscreen
    • Umbrella (rain and sun)
    • Excessive Rain
      • Polycro Sheet (layer in tent)
      • Larger plastic bags (use to separate wet gear during night)
      • Utility gloves (layer over merino or separate to keep hands dry and warm)
    • Snow/Ice:
    • Desert:
      • Comb and full size tweezers (jumping cholla)

Things I Don’t Carry:

  • A chair
  • Camp shoes
  • Extra hiking clothes
  • A weapon, hunting or fishing gear

Things I Wear and Carry:

Things I’ve Carried Since My First Trip:

As I reviewed my list, I realized I’ve changed everything over the years. There are quite a few items I’ve carried at least 5 years, in fact many probably 7-8 but even those might have been modified. This kit keeps me comfortable and happy through most conditions.

Ongoing Challenges:

  1. I’d love a lighter less bulky tent
    • Stake-dependent shelters are frustrating in hard rocky ground
    • Single wall shelters have condensation issues
    • Dyneema shelters are so expensive
  2. It’s about time to replace my well-loved pack
    • The GG models change slightly year-to-year and are expensive to return
    • All cottage company models require an investment in return postage
    • I’m tempted to make my own
  3. Simplifying water treatment is always on my mind
    • The Sawyer Squeeze takes time and has to be protected during freezing temps
    • The Katadyn BeFree has enough negative reviews to cause hesitation; the custom bottles don’t excite me.
  4. It’s time to do a pack shake down again with weight creeping up to 16 pounds; 12-14 would be better. Yes I know the changes I could make. Like I said at the beginning it’s all about compromise.

Related Posts:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

Note: The purple mat is not part of my gear.

 

2018 – Where Did Jan Jaunt?

Welcome to 2019, how did I spend my last 365 days?

This is an interactive map of the places I visited in 2018. If you click on an icon you’ll find the link to the associated blog post. As of this date, I have a few months of adventures to add to the map and blog. 

2018 Factoids:

  • 209 days spent OUTSIDE hiking, walking, snowshoeing, etc.
  • 27 nights spent in my tent (sadly prime backpacking season was disrupted by my accident)
  • 79 nights spent sleeping in my car
  • 10,000 miles driven
  • 1,500-2,000 miles hiked
  • 20,000+ blog visitors (WOW!)

Travel Summaries:

Popular Posts:

2019 Goals:

  • More time in Colorado, including possibly hiking the Colorado Trail
  • Late winter/early spring trip to include Southern California, Southern Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and possibly Texas.
  • Time in Glacier National Park is still high on my list
  • More shared adventures with new and old friends
  • More PCT and CDT adventures
  • Possibly fall in the Sierra; maybe early summer on the Tahoe Rim Trail if this continues as a low snow year.
  • MORE time OUTSIDE, MORE HIKING, MORE BACKPACKING, less driving!!!!

Backpacking Gear Choices:

Clothing Choices:

Specialty Gear:

Car Camping/Travel Gear:

Please let me know if any of the links are broken. THANKS!

Disclosure: Some items include Amazon Affiliate links where I might get a small financial kickback if you buy through the link.

 

 

Long-Distance Hiking and Backpacking Skills, Summary Post

As hikers get ready for another season on trail, I thought it might be helpful to provide links to a few of my popular articles.

Safety first:

Beginners:

Long Distance:

Navigation:

2017 PCT Hiker Survey Results:

PCTA Words of Wisdom:

Let me know if you have questions or would like me to cover additional topics in the future. Have a fantastic hiking season!