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Topic: What do you wish you'd left behind or brought?, Fine-tuning a pack list.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2013, 10:09 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm planning a three-week backpack (JMT) and am going over my list of items to pack.

This made me ponder, of all the trips you've been on, is there an item that you did NOT pack - but wish you had?

Is there an item that you brought- but didn't use and wish you hadn't?

For me, one trip (Glacier) I had no pliers and really needed them to take fish off my hooks. I had to use fingernail clippers. I take a small multi-tool now.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 12:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't think I can recall wishing I brought something beside beer. Otherwise, I always seem to over-prepare and wish I'd left stuff at home. I always wear the exact same stuff so why bring even more? My advice..is to bring what you always bring that is tried and true.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 12:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The most important thing to leave behind is your worry.
The next are your expectations.

Free your mind--your a$$ will follow.

Sorry, I digress . . .


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 12:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One item I think most people don't consider is a high quality pair of binoculars. Maybe it's because we hike in the Cdn Rockies and seeing wildlife is a big part of the thrill of backpacking, but we find them indispensible. Nothing is more fun than watching grizzly bears mating on a slope a km away (and getting closer isn't an option) - a distance that would be impossible to truly enjoy & appreciate without binocs.

The higher quality the better - we've had our share of low end binocs to save on weight & cost, but have always ditched them for something better. Finally, we've settled on Canon 12 x 36 Image Stabilizer binocs - fantastic for viewing wildlife. They might be heavy, but they are worth the weight.

http://www.canon.ca/inetCA/products?m=gp&pid=1454


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 1:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Enough high SPF sunscreen. At altitude you can get fried in places you wouldn't normally worry about (tops of your feet while in camp, back of the knees, under your chin, under your nose, your ears, back of the neck) now some of that is only when you're on a snowpack but in any case the less filtered sunlight up high has a lot more burn energy than many anticipate and a sunburn on feet that need to go back into boots is not as much fun as you'd think....

Maps or other navigational information for more than just the line I expect to follow: especially on a thru hike having the information to hand for any bailout routes that might be needed for weather or other reasons is a nice thing to have. Having to endure risks simply becuase you're not aware of an easier and more rapid option isn't worth the extra ounce ot two (or less if it's simply a bit more gps files).

For me, but that's more a personal thing, too much food.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've spent a lot of time thinking through my gear, so I've never missed anything or felt like I brought too much.  The closest I've come to that feeling is finishing with too much food, or using less warm clothing than expected during unseasonably mild weather.  However, I wouldn't dare count on such good luck when I pack.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 2:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One thing: Swedish Bikini Team

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I hiked the John Muir Trail and can tell you the things I wish I had brought - a spin casting rod and reel set up and a comprehensive spice kit - and things I wish I had left home (and did in fact ship home) - down jacket and insulated mug.

Some people in my group brought a tarp and wished they had brought a tent because of the mosquitoes.  

It is funny that BCPete1 said binoculars.  After carrying them for many trips and almost never using them, I don't carry them anymore.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 3:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(botanist @ Apr. 03 2013, 3:33 pm)
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It is funny that BCPete1 said binoculars.  After carrying them for many trips and almost never using them, I don't carry them anymore.

That's a trip-by-trip decision for me.  I have three levels of weight-performance tradeoff (four if you count "none").  I don't usually bring any, but on my next week-long trip, I'll bring my best (and heaviest) binoculars.  (For spotting distant ruins).
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 7:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(botanist @ Apr. 03 2013, 3:33 pm)
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It is funny that BCPete1 said binoculars.  After carrying them for many trips and almost never using them, I don't carry them anymore.

:laugh:  :laugh:  I hear ya! There are a lot of trips that they just sit heavily in the pack, and never see daylight.

Then there's the trip where you spot something in the alpine meadow below as you are scrambling up a peak. Taking out the bincos comfirms what you thought you might be seeing (but weren't totally sure because it's just far enough away) ... a grizzly sow sitting in a snowbank that she's made into a lazy-boy recliner position. Her 3 cubs are frantically climbing up the slope to her because they realize she's going to let them nurse for a minute or so. That happened two summers ago. Yeah, it's hard to leave the binocs behind after a few of those experiences! :cool:  :cool:  :cool:


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 9:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(BCPete1 @ Apr. 03 2013, 12:33 pm)
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One item I think most people don't consider is a high quality pair of binoculars.

I have the binocular debate with myself every time I go out.  Seems like when I take them, I never use them and when I don't, I come across something that makes me really wish I had.  It's all so very difficult. :(

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2013, 10:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have a pretty thorough and time-honed list, but there are a couple of things that I've forgotten anyway and regretted.  A bandana (I often take two; one is a pee rag and not needed if you are male, the other is a hand-towel, hot pad, snot rag. . . whatever is needed).  The means to make good coffee (I often deliberately leave this out, and usually regret, though it's better since Starbuck made their Via instant).

I have never regretted having my down sweater in the Sierra.


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(big_load @ Apr. 03 2013, 2:13 pm)
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The closest I've come to that feeling is finishing with too much food,

I tend to err on the side of too much food, over and over again.  I really need to work on that.....again.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 12:44 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Rick Steves said, "Nobody EVER came back from their first trip to Europe and said, 'Gee I wish I had brought more stuff.'"

Same thing is true with backpacking...

Like toesnorth, I have literally hauled back tons of food, until once during a brutal 80-mile trip, I happened across a DUMPSTER right in the forest, like a vision from the Universe, and I dumped about 10 lbs. of food! The rest of the trip was easy...

Since then, I've limited my food, all bone dry and freezer-bag "cooked," (reconstituted with boiling water.) to one pound a day, and it's worked for me for 10 years...

No longer do I actually gain weight backpacking.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 6:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll get in on the too much food bit.  But on the JMT you'll be hitting resupply and by the time you get the food drop your calorie needs will be increasing significantly so be sure to account for that.

I used to lug binoculars, but they were just dead weight.

I've left my umbrella behind and wished I hadn't, especially on hot sunny days.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 12:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have the food dialed in pretty well for long trips.  I tend to come back almost empty or close to it.  And n_g is right, calorie needs on extended trips differ quite a bit from what you might need on a 2-4 day stretch.  Unfortunately only experience is really going to tell you exactly how much food you'll need for such a trip.

I also used to lug binoculars, but haven't in years.  Haven't regretted it.  I don't fault folks who want them, I just haven't personally missed them.

I don't bring as many extra clothes as I used to.  An occasional rinse and air-dry with a couple spare items helps a lot.  It's several pounds I dropped that I haven't missed.

This may be less popular, but I don't carry spare shoes for camp any more.  No sandals, flip-flops, tennis shoes, etc.  My walking shoes are plenty light, dialed-in to be comfortable without blisters, and they dry quickly.  I just don't really need spares.  Two pounds right there, gone.

Rarely if ever do I find myself wanting more stuff along.  Improvisation goes a long way (wearing all your layers to sleep on a colder-than-average night, etc), and I find myself glad to not be hauling all the extra weight.

I was somewhat amazed (albeit not surprised) watching all the JMT hikers hauling 65+ lbs with items strung from their packs like Christmas trees when ol-zeke and I were on that trail last fall.  Most of 'em were really struggling, but thought it all "necessary" for such a long trip.  It really isn't, although it wasn't worth trying to tell them that.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 12:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"Long" is so often misunderstood.

With the resupply points it's actually a shorter trip than many. Just a couple of them organized back toi back.
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(High_Sierra_Fan @ Apr. 04 2013, 10:59 am)
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"Long" is so often misunderstood.

With the resupply points it's actually a shorter trip than many. Just a couple of them organized back toi back.

From a resupply standpoint and how much "stuff" you'll need, yes, absolutely, I agree.

But metabolism differs quite a bit between someone walking a few days, and someone walking every day for several weeks or more.  I definitely find a big "spike" in my calorie needs after about the first week or so, at least personally.  So regarding food, there is a salient difference in my experience.


ETA: To be fair to some of the JMT hikers last fall, it was past the regular "summer" season and some of the resupply points were closed for the season, so some of them were describing going 16-20 days between resupplies.  Which explains some of their weight.  However, when a guy has spare boots hanging off his monstrous pack (in addition to the gigantic clod-stompers he was already wearing), each clipped to two full-sized daisy-chained carabiners apiece (do ya' really need a half-pound of hardware just to attach your boots, when you're not climbing?), it's obvious that "lightening up" wasn't in his vocabulary when he was packing.  We probably passed 20-30 folks very similar to that setup during our week, and only a few with lightweight packs.

Overpacking is definitely more common than underpacking, which is why I'd urge the OP to more carefully consider "what should I leave out" than "what else should I put in."


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(GoBlueHiker @ Apr. 04 2013, 12:56 pm)
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This may be less popular, but I don't carry spare shoes for camp any more.  No sandals, flip-flops, tennis shoes, etc.  My walking shoes are plenty light, dialed-in to be comfortable without blisters, and they dry quickly.  I just don't really need spares.  Two pounds right there, gone.

I almost posted this but also thought it would be unpopular.  I still wear boots and they are as comfortable as slippers. I carried sandals for those few stream crossings and nights in camp but realized they really weren't necessary.

What type of walking shoes do you use?  I'm thinking of switching to a lightweight pair of hiking shoes after my Sundowners die their second, and final, death.  Shoe Goo can only hold the soles on and the stitching together for so long.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2013, 1:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My trips are in the 15 to 20 day range without resupply, so my food load is close to 40-45 lbs, with fuel.  Thing is, I like to read when I'm out and buy old used books or make my own "book rolls" from interesting interweb subjects---printed on both sides of typing paper in a roll of around 70 pages.  Ten rolls is heavy but all of it is burned while out, even the books.

If anything, I'd like to have more books to read as by Day 8 or so I'm out of stuff to read.  I enjoy reading inside a tent during a storm and can haul the weight if it's burned.  I can't do much reading done at home.


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(botanist @ Apr. 04 2013, 11:15 am)
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What type of walking shoes do you use?  I'm thinking of switching to a lightweight pair of hiking shoes after my Sundowners die their second, and final, death.  Shoe Goo can only hold the soles on and the stitching together for so long.

Whatever fits best.  I don't have any particular loyalty in footwear anymore (except for Sorel boots on the ice sheet, but that's a completely different need).  I've found Vasque's lightweight lineup doesn't fit me well even though I used to love my Sundowners.  I've gone through a couple of Oboz Sawtooth shoes that fit me well but I was underimpressed with the durability (I was able to completely destroy the midsoles of a pair in a single four-week trip... I used 'em hard, but still).  I've had some luck with Montrails before.  I currently have Patagonia Drifter shoes (non-GTX) that I like, although again, when they burn out I'll simply go shopping again with an open mind while keeping them in my thoughts.

I tend to spend a lot of time trying on shoes 'till I find the "most perfect" fit (rarely do I find it at the first store I visit), which sometimes takes awhile.  That's had a lot more to do with my happiness in footwear than any particular brand of shoe.  Just my $.02 anyway.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 05 2013, 10:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There have been a few times I wished I had left my fishing pole at home...but like they say...

a bad day fishing beats.....


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(wcolucci @ Apr. 05 2013, 10:29 am)
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There have been a few times I wished I had left my fishing pole at home...but like they say...

a bad day fishing beats.....

Funny about that.  I tend to take too much food, especially when I figure fishing will be lousy..........and that's when they bite on everything I throw in.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 05 2013, 6:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I carry one full days worth of extra food on my long trips (including three on the JMT). I never needed it, and indeed always brought back or gave away extra as my appetite drops up high. I finally decided to meet in the middle with the binoc thing and got a monocular a couple years ago.

Bring a hat, (and/or extra sunscreen like HSF said) as you will get surprised by how fast you will burn above treeline.

Down sweater is always good up there as it can drop below freezing anytime, even in summer.

Bring enthusiasm. That is the best section of trail I have ever been on. Enjoy your hike.


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Thanks Ray, a good down sweater is the key to ultralite backpacking in high country. Mine is a 1 lb. Golite Cumulus that packs into cantaloupe-size, but when the sh*t hits the fan, it's a lifesaver.

The only jacket I carry is a Frogg-Toggs-type rain-jacket with a hood...It's 6 oz. and totally breathable, and with the Cumulus and a nylon long-sleeve undershirt, it'll take me down to 10* F. while climbing. (Don't waste weight by carrying fleece sweaters...it took me years to figure this out, but down is many, many times more efficient, weightwise.)

If the wind and the cold get really bad, I'll add my silnylon poncho, cinched at the waist. This is all I've ever needed for warmth 12 months a year in the Colorado Rockies...And the whole thing only weighs 2 lbs.

And I love wearing my down sweater inside my sleeping bag on really cold nights...
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(highpeakdrifter @ Apr. 06 2013, 1:04 am)
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Thanks Ray, a good down sweater is the key to ultralite backpacking in high country. Mine is a 1 lb. Golite Cumulus that packs into cantaloupe-size, but when the sh*t hits the fan, it's a lifesaver.

The only jacket I carry is a Frogg-Toggs-type rain-jacket with a hood...It's 6 oz. and totally breathable, and with the Cumulus and a nylon long-sleeve undershirt, it'll take me down to 10* F. while climbing. (Don't waste weight by carrying fleece sweaters...it took me years to figure this out, but down is many, many times more efficient, weightwise.)

If the wind and the cold get really bad, I'll add my silnylon poncho, cinched at the waist. This is all I've ever needed for warmth 12 months a year in the Colorado Rockies...And the whole thing only weighs 2 lbs.

And I love wearing my down sweater inside my sleeping bag on really cold nights...

Either you're half-brother to a polar bear, dude, or you've been really, really lucky.

Or you're not counting other layers, and "accessory items" like hats, gloves, gaiters, outer mountaineering pants--$hit, you're talking the Rockies in Winter!


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 06 2013, 11:01 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Camp chairs!  There is nothing more uncomfortable (to me) than busting your butt all day and then having to sit on a cold, hard rock or log while you cook and enjoy your surroundings in the evening.

My wife and I carry Crazy Creek Hexalites, they are close to a pound each (ditch the roll-up with the handle to save weight), but well worth the relaxation they bring at camp.


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(cadesun @ Apr. 06 2013, 11:01 am)
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Camp chairs!  There is nothing more uncomfortable (to me) than busting your butt all day and then having to sit on a cold, hard rock or log while you cook and enjoy your surroundings in the evening.

It always amazes me when I see backpackers carrying chair.  Mind you, I"m not saying it's wrong.  Everyone has their own comfort level, but I can usually find a tree or boulder to lean against which makes for pretty comfortable sitting.  But, I can think of some camps that would have been nice with a chair had I had one.  I generally will take my Crazy Creek chair on a canoe trip and have to admit, it adds to the comfort.  Each to his own, I guess.

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(hikerjer @ Apr. 06 2013, 2:27 pm)
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(cadesun @ Apr. 06 2013, 11:01 am)
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Camp chairs!  There is nothing more uncomfortable (to me) than busting your butt all day and then having to sit on a cold, hard rock or log while you cook and enjoy your surroundings in the evening.

It always amazes me when I see backpackers carrying chair.  Mind you, I"m not saying it's wrong.  Everyone has their own comfort level, but I can usually find a tree or boulder to lean against which makes for pretty comfortable sitting.  But, I can think of some camps that would have been nice with a chair had I had one.  I generally will take my Crazy Creek chair on a canoe trip and have to admit, it adds to the comfort.  Each to his own, I guess.

I couldn't imagine carrying a chair for three weeks on the JMT.  Every ounce counts when you're covering that kind of distance and elevation every day.  He'd be better off dedicating that additional pound to a luxurious food item.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 07 2013, 12:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

The only thing I can think of that I wanted and didn't have was more warm clothes.  I hate being cold and get cold easily.  I always think I've packed enough, but often spend some time shivering.  I think what I really need is a great Western Mountaineering sleeping bag...

I've been doing this since I was a little kid, and was trained by my dad who really brings nothing unnecessary, so I can't think of anything much that I've regretted carrying. I do have my little luxuries, (I really like having some light camp shoes and something to read), but I never regret those.  I may choose to leave them home on a long, ounce-counting kind of trip though.


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