Emergency Storage From the Perspective of a Backpacker–72 Hour Kit
1. Backpacking Cook Kit:
Stove w/fuel, 1-2 pots, Matches or lighter
Cup, Plate, Spoon & Fork
Salt & Pepper, Cooking Oil, Seasonings
Butter or margarine, Honey, Jam and/or Jelly
Dish soap or pads, Spatula, Frying pan (optional)
2. WATER. 1 gallon/person
A. Storage. Store water in containers you can move. Be prepared to either carry water with you or treat water to make it drinkable.
B. Treating Water.
1. Heating. The surest method
of making your water safe is to bring it to a boil, then let it cool. At higher elevations, boil it for several minutes to kill microorganisms because the boiling temperature of water will be lower.
2. Chemical. Available at
most camping supply outlets, water purification tablets will kill most waterborne bacteria. The tablets contain iodine, halazone or chlorine. Over time, an opened container will lose its potency. Probably best to replace opened bottles after six months. For clear water, drop one tablet (8mg) into a quart or liter of water and let it stand 10 minutes. Add 10 minutes if the water is cold or discolored; 20 if both.
a. Filter. Most entry level, inexpensive filters
will filter between 1.0 to 4.0 microns-they generally are targeted to eliminate giardia and sediment. Giardia is approximately 2.0 microns in size. So get a filter that will filter below that. Examples: Timberline and Coughlan. Use in wilderness camping. These basic filters have been used successfully in the Colorado River, Uinta and Windriver Mountains. Cost: about $18-29.
They will last about two or three summers of active camping, or about 100 to 400 gallons, depending on the purity of the water you are filtering. Extend the life of any filter by keeping the filter screen away from sediment or the water source bottom.
b. Microfilter. Microfilters are generally more expensive, but eliminate more than just the larger microorganisms. Some claim to remove 99.9% of all bacteria, as well as cysts, protozoa and tape worms. No filter is effective against viruses, such as hepatitis. Viruses are unlikely to be encountered in wilderness camping or from natural water sources. Microfilters generally filter between .02 to 1.0 microns and eliminate giardia and most bacteria. Examples: SweetWater Guardian, PUR Hiker. Use for outdoor camping from natural water sources. If a charcoal filter is present, it may also remove chemicals. Some of these can be field cleaned to extend the life of the filter. Cost: about $49-80.
c. Purifier. Filters to .004 microns and has
a silver nitrate or iodine matrix-eliminates giardia, bacteria and viruses. If combined with a charcoal filter, will eliminate iodine taste and other chemicals. Example: PUR Explorer. Cost: $80-$170.
In evaluating any filter or purifier, look to where you will be using it, the cost, water output, and ease of pumping. Those mentioned above pump about one quart per minute, which is adequate. Some are easy, like the SweetWater Guardian, which requires only two pounds of pump pressure. You can also add a virus/iodine “filter” to it for about $25.
3. BEDDING. (Blanket, Cloth Sheet, Plastic
a. Sleeping Bags over Bedrolls.
A variety of inexpensive bags are available. Watch for the type of bag (rectangle vs. mummy-style), insulation, and cold weather features. Mummy bags are warmer than rectangle bags, but are more confining. The trick to avoiding claustrophobia in a mummy bag is to move the bag with you when you roll over; don’t try to roll over inside the bag. For warmth, cinch up the bag around your face. Do not put your face in the bag. Moisture from your breath will be retained by the insulation and will make your bag feel cold.
Always breathe outside the bag.
Be aware that rectangle bags let a draft down the neck and shoulders. This can be compensated with extra clothing. The rectangle bags are generally too bulky for backpacking. If you like to sleep with your head out of the bag, but your head gets cold, wear a stocking cap. It’s guaranteed to remove any curl from your hair.
b. Some Features to Look for.
A good bag will insulate along the zipper and allow the top to cinch around the head and shoulders. Extreme cold weather bags have a draft collar that
goes around your neck to keep out cold air. Baffles, or the layers of insulation within the bag should not be sewn completely through all the layers, but should be offset so insulation is as deep as possible. Try holding the bag up to a bright light to see if light comes through near the seams or stitching. If light comes through, cold will too.
Insulation materials make a difference. The warmest is down, but it is also the most expensive and requires a little extra care. A good down bag, though, is lightweight, compressable, and can last a lifetime. Store your down bag in a large cotton bag so the down fibers stay fluffed up. Compress the bag in a smaller bag when you are ready to go camping.
Down is rated by the number of cubic inches an ounce of down fibers will fluff up to. A rating of 550 is excellent; 900 is incredible.
Artificial insulation supposedly will retain heat even though damp. In winter camping a bag tends to retain moisture. Moist air from your body generally freezes when it hits the outer layer of your sleeping. The body puts out about one pint of moisture during the night. The least effective insulation is plain polyester batting. Good insulation is Hollofill, MicroLoft, Quallofill,
and Polarguard. Some more expensive bags have an outer layer of Goretex or similar material to allow moisture to pass out of the bag without letting
The next thing to look for is the amount of insulation (by weight) that is in the bag. About three pounds of artificial insulation is necessary for
a comfortable bag. Good bags will be rated by degrees of comfort. Generally, a bag rated at 20 degrees is a good three season bag. A five degree bag will usually be too hot for summer camping, but adequate for most winter camping. If you have to sleep in a snow cave, know that snow caves stay about 40 degrees through even a below zero night if the cave is adequately closed in.
Regardless of what the conditions have been, always air your bag out after use. Hang it up in a dry place for a day or so. You can wash a sleeping bag in a large front loading commercial washer with a small amount of mild detergent. Tumble dry with a tennis shoe to fluff up the insulation.
c. Sleeping Pad. A ground pad is essential. Most of the cold will come from the bottom, believe it
or not, and a good foam pad will allow you to sleep comfortably even on snow! You’ll be surprised in the morning to see you haven’t melted the snow. A
tent will add another 5 to 10 degrees comfort, while sleeping in clean, dry clothes will also help to keep the heat in.
Avoid plain air mattresses and open cell foam for backpacking. The first doesn’t insulate well at all. The second soaks up water and won’t let it go. If it gets wet, it’s like sleeping in a sponge. The least expensive pads are made of closed cell foam. They are very effective. Supposedly, they’ll keep down to -20 degree cold away from your back. When it gets colder than that, mountaineers add another pad. A 6 foot pad will weigh only 14 oz.
Another excellent pad is a combination of foam and air, giving you the comfort of an air mattress with the insulation of foam. Example: Thermarest. These are self-inflating if you are patient. In theory they can puncture, and repair kits are available. If cared for and put in a protective sack when traveling, you should get a lot of mileage out of one. Mine has been in continual use for about 10-12 years and has never needed repair. It is best to store these out of the sack and with the valve open to maintain resiliency.
4. TARPS AND TENTS
Tarps are lightweight and versatile. If pitched with the lower edge toward a storm, they can keep you very dry. Fold the tarp in a half triangle shape,
or lay another tarp beneath your sleeping pad to keep moisture from your sleeping bag. Tarps don’t keep out night insects, but mosquitoes go to bed
shortly after dark. While camping with a tarp in the mountains is okay, I wouldn’t use a tarp in the desert. I don’t like to share my bag with most
of the things that crawl around out there.
Tents are now made for about any purpose, number of people, cost, and weight that you can imagine.
Decide how many people will sleep in the tent, what you’ll use it for, and how much you can afford. Then shop around. You want a tent that will keep you dry in a driving rain or an unexpected snow storm. Look for a “bathtub floor” that covers the bottom and wraps up from the ground several inches. A good rain fly should go nearly to the ground.
Plan on sealing the seams yourself and spraying the tent with a silicone water repellant each year and more than a day before you use it. This can
make a leaking tent weathertight.
Other options, such as aluminum poles, extra windows, storage pockets and vestibules are up to you. A two person backpack tent should be under about eight pounds. Good ones are five to seven pounds. Aluminum poles will bear a heavier snow load than fiberglass poles. They cost more, but they weigh considerably less.
If you are car camping, don’t worry about the size or weight of the tent. Get something that is tall enough to allow you to put on your clothes on
a cold morning without hitting your head on the ceiling, and a design that will withstand a strong wind. Always peg down the tent to maintain its shape and give it strength. Peg down the guy lines if you suspect wind during the night or while you are away from your tent. (It does have guy lines, doesn’t it?) Even with gear inside they can blow away like a tumbleweed! I once chased one down that was heading for a dip in the Colorado River while its owner was fishing.
5. PERSONAL SUPPLIES AND MEDICATION.
Build your own first aid kit and personal kit. Don’t worry about what others have on their lists. Just use lists for ideas. Make a list of what you use
based on problems you have experienced in the past and situations you worry about in the future. Besides first aid supplies and toiletries, include cleaning supplies. Also, make sure your tetanus shots and immunizations are up to date.
6. FUEL AND LIGHT.
Include matches, candle(s), flashlight and batteries. Save your batteries by going to bed at dark. Don’t take flames inside your tent. Candles are for starting fires when the wood is damp. If you need to find some dry tinder during any weather, including driving rain or snow, go inside a pine tree
near the trunk. Look up and you’ll find lots of small dry twigs and branches that break off easily and are highly flammable from the pine resin. Build your fire in an area that is sheltered from the wind. Even if you don’t need one for warmth, fires are therapeutic.
For car camping, the cheapest, brightest light for the campground is either an LED light or the white-gas Coleman lantern. Carry extra mantles; keep them in the container with the lantern. I wouldn’t use them in a tent or house, though. Use your battery-powered light there.
Can opener (on your knife?), dishpan (a pot will double for cleaning), dishes, utensils, matches, candles, flashlight, ax, shovel, bucket, radio (battery powered), paper, pencil.
8. INFANT NEEDS. If applicable.
9. PERSONAL DOCUMENTS.
Scriptures, genealogy records, legal documents (will, insurance policies, contracts, passports, birth certificates, etc.), other important documents.
10. MONEY. Cash and coins.
Dave’s website OutdoorsWithDave.com is another beginning guide to the outdoors. Find info on camping, driving, climbing, hiking, backpacking, running, golf, landscaping, travel and other outdoor topics.