Q: Christine asked: I want to get into hiking more. I tried it once and I fell in love with it. The nature of it was incredible. Can you help me on what I need for just starting out. I liked the 3 Seasons list, but I am only going for a few hours and I dont want to take all that stuff. Thats just too much on one pack. Your help is greatly appreciated.
A: Hi Christine, Thanks for your message. Glad you enjoy hiking. It’s a great way to just get away from it all and push the “reset” button on life. As for what to take, if I were just going for a few hours I would take the following:
Day pack or fanny pack
Water or drink (at least 16 to 32 oz.)
Snacks (maybe a sandwich, chips or candybar)
Good shoes or boots, depending on the terrain
Good socks, or two pair of socks
Bandana or handkerchief
Clothing for the season
Map and compass if the area is new to you
Camera & Film
First aid supplies (for a day hike, maybe just a couple of bandaids. Add what you think you might need)
Insect repellent (the best kind has DEET in it, like Muskol)
Camping with Kids
Q: Amy wrote: We are planning to go tent camping with a three month old baby. Do you know where I could find any ideas or suggestions to make this a fun trip? I am most concerned about sleeping arrangments. Thank you.
A: Hi Amy, Thanks for your question. Camping with kids is a great idea. It requires some adjustment and careful preparation and packing, but is much more enjoyable than going without them. Starting with a 3 month old sounds like a good place to start. It just gets better. As Emerson said, “That which you persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the thing itself has changed, but the power to do it has increased.”
My wife and I ended up with a “baby bag”, that collected all the essentials for the youngster. With each trip we replenished it, deleted or added to it, so it was always there and ready to go–not much thought was required after a while.
For sleeping, on our first tent camping experience we actually put a play pen in the car for our daughter to sleep in, but soon left it home. We found little kids sleep best with one piece pajamas in warm weather and a “snow” suit in colder weather. They just can’t keep a blanket on. A one piece suit keeps them warm regardless of where they lay. We started them in a child’s sleeping bag with their favorite blanket.
To the three season checklist I would add a baby backpack, disposable diapers and disposable washclothes (like Wet Ones), plastic bags of at least gallon and three gallon size, baby food and necessary feeding utensils. Keep a checklist with your baby bag and review it after each trip.
Beyond that, just be “normal”. Kids, to a certain extent, will adapt to you and your activities over time.
Wish you the best in the wilderness!
Packing an Internal Frame Pack
Q: I just purchased a internal frame pack. I am told that you can not pack it like an external frame. I grew up on an external with the tent on top, etc. I am told that the heavy gear including the tent and stove go against the inside of pack so the weight is close to my thoracic spine. Please tell me how to pack correctly. Based on this technique, I wont get much more than the tent , stove and essentials inside the pack. If that is the case, why in the world are there a multitude of straps on the outside? –Dr. Buffenmyer
A: Thanks for the question, Dr. Buffenmyer. You’re not alone. Externals are superior in many ways to internals. When changing to an internal, the loading will not seem right. You have to experiment with the pack to find the proper equilibrium. Internals are much more difficult to pack than externals. For trail hiking, you can’t beat the external. However, the internal is much more versatile for car camping (it conforms to your trunk, etc.) and off trail scrambling. Generally, like the external, arrange the contents of your pack so that its center of gravity is high and close to your back. For cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and mountaineering treks, you can trade a little comfort for a lot of stability by placing heavy gear in the bottom of the pack, and thus lowering the center of gravity. In either case, pad the front of the pack’s interior with a layer of clothing or similar material to provide cushioning against your back. Use the straps for securing a foam pad on the outside. The straps can also secure items such as snowshoes, skis, rope, crampons, climbing gear, fishing pole, etc. It’s also possible to put the tent on top on the outside, particularly if you find the pack tends to pull you over backwards. Basically, then, to try to get a feel similar to your external, and for trail hiking, put light items to the bottom, heavy items toward the top. Soft items go next to your back. Depending on the size and shape of your stove, either put it or your fuel in the extra water bottle pocket. Let me know how it works. –David