Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Do I Carry?

A number of people have asked about what I carry on this hike. I planned, after my hike was over, to weigh every single item I had, photograph them, and post a very detailed summary.

As it stands right now--not when you read this or when I upload it (which could take days for all I know--I don't know when the next payphone will be)--it is 5:00 in the afternoon. A full two hours before sunset, and I've already cooked an elaborate rice and bean and cheese burritos for dinner and cleaned up the resulting mess.

And I've finished all my reading material.

So I'm kind of bored. So right now, I will itemize everything I am carrying, minus food and water since those change dramatically from day to day anyhow.

First, my cooking stuff:

two quart pot with lid
soda can stove (plus simmer ring and extinguisher)
plastic spork
dish rag
pot holder
pot stand
plastic 1 cup drinking/measuring cup
2 bottles of denatured alcohol
mesh bag to hold it all together

I should point out--I usually don't carry two bottles of denatured alcohol, but I hate wasting stuff and the last time I bought denatured alcohol, it wouldn't all fit into a single bottle. So I have it in two. I hope to finish off one of the bottles soon and be back down to just one bottle.

My pot, frankly, is way bigger than it needs to be, mostly because I'm cheap. I bought it before I started the AT and I didn't know any better. It originally came with another pot that could fit inside this one and a frying pan, but I wised up and ditched those. I have been eyeing a 0.9 liter titanium pot for future use, however, weighing in at less than 5 ounces and taking up about half the space.

Shelter details:
1 tarp
4 metal stakes
4 plastic stakes
1 trekking pole
1 ground sheet
1 set of directions for tieing knots
extra rope

My tarp already has rope tied to each corner and edge, but I like to carry a bit extra rope in case I need to extend one of the pre-tied ropes. The trekking pole, obviously, serves several purposes, and one of them is to hold up one end of my tarp. I usually find a tree to hold up the other end.

I rarely use more than five stakes at any one time, and the most I've ever used on this trip is seven, so I really am carrying more than I really need. But they don't weigh much. *shrug*

The directions for tieing knots--I already know the important knots which I use on an almost daily basis for my tarp. I bought these directions when I didn't know any knots at all. Nowdays I like to keep the directions around to goof around with knots I don't know (and probably will never need to know). It's cheap entertainment, and pretty light as well. =)

Hygenic Stuff:
baby powder
Gold Bond
liquid soap
laundry soap
Purell hand sanitizer

All these are in trial or travel sized stuff. Small is good. The laundry soap is actually meant for washing clothes in the sink.

Miscellaneous Stuff:
I have some iodine tablets for purifying water, but it's a backup in case my ususual SteriPen doesn't work (dead batteries) or the water seems REALLY bad and I want to be doubly safe.

I have a small bit of duct tape, a pocket watch, an unbrella, a camera, sunscreen, headlamp, spare batteries (this varies over time, but at a minimum, I always keep at least two AA batteries as spares), DEET(!!!!), this PocketMail device, sunglasses, notebook, mosquito head net, pens (2), toilet paper (in its own bright red bag), Leatherman, and a wallet with money, driver's license, credit cards, and the ususual stuff.

Letterboxing Gear:
1 signature stamp
2 ink pads (green and black)
1 letterbox (to be planted in Alabama)
1 personal traveler stamp
1 mini logbook (not sure why I carry this)
1 personal logbook

Navigation Equipment:
1 compass
1 AAA map of Alabama/Georgia
Several pages torn out of the Alabama DeLorme maps (no way I'm carrying that WHOLE book!)
Printout of the Alabama Trail, Pinhoti Trail, and Benton McKaye Trail details.
Printout of maps with trail angels and contact details.

I should point out--I throw away the maps and pages as I finish with them, so those continue to get lighter the further I go.

First Aid:
safety pin
antiseptic towelettes
2x2 inch gauze sponge (*heh* I didn't even realize I had that until I looked through my first aid kit to make sure I hadn't missed anything!)

For the most part, I carry two of everything. One to hike in, and one to wear around camp and sleep in. Even two different hats. The day hat has a wide brim to keep the sun or rain off my face while the night hat is made of fleece for warmth.

I do, however, have three pairs of socks--the third pair I use whenever the other two need a day off. Even shoes--I have hiking shoes (sneakers) and camp shoes (Waldies--like Crocs, but without the strap behind the heel).

I also carry an extra layer for sleeping in on cold nights. Body huggers, both top and bottom.

And a fleece jacket, for whenever I'm cold. Usually worn at night in camp, but on rare occasions on cold days while hiking. Same goes for gloves, which I also wear if mosquitoes are bad.

Recently, I picked up a "Don't shoot me--I'm a hiker!" vest, which I haven't worn yet but should be very useful if I pass through hunting areas. Amanda gave it to me as a gift. =)

I have a nice, goose down 20 degree bag.

Everything, of course, gets put into various bags. I have several silicon compregnated nylon stuff sacks, and everything else gets put into ZipLock bags. (I only use the freezer bags--they're thicker and tougher than standard bags.)

I always have lots of spare ZipLocks, though exact numbers vary on a near daily basis.

I keep stuff I want access to without taking off my pack in my fanny pack.

To store water, I have a Nalgene bottle (with Spanish-English translations on the side--hey! It could have been useful in Florida!), a 1.5 liter water bottle, and a 2 liter Coke bottle. That last one is an improvision. My Platypus failed, and unable to acquire a new bladder for it, I'm using the 2 liter Coke bottle instead. The cap actually fits with the Platypus hose.

And.... I think that's everything. Everything is accounted for, large and small alike. It sure sounds like a lot, huh?

Without food or water, I think my gear weighs about 15 pounds. Maybe 20 pounds, but probably closer to 15. With about five days of food and a full day of water, it weights in at about 30 pounds. When I really load up with food or several days of water, it might reach 40 pounds, but that's my maximum weight, and I don't stay at that weight long! =)

Ryan, checking in from Stewartville


Anonymous said...

thought of you yesterday when I took my girls to Build-A-Bear Workshop. Try as I might neither child would choose the turtle with removable shell that doubled as a backpack. it had a small zippered section to it - perfect for a stamp & logbook. what a great little boxing buddy he would have made . . .

be safe!!


Anonymous said...

wow, that is a lot of stuff. and a lot of weight. i know it doesn't sound like much.........just a 50 pound bag of potatoes to carry every day......up, over and through the country side..........mountain side and water side :J


Anonymous said...

Great stuff!!! Hoping to do the florida trail myself one day .Thanks for all the info!! Tomfoolery

Anonymous said...

Wow! To me that sounds light! When I was a teenager I remember carrying 30-40lbs on a weekend hike with the Scouts. Of course we didn't have such lightweight materials then *grins*

I'll show your list to my Scouts and I bet they'll be suprised at how little you are carrying for a major exped. They all seem to carry as much as infantryman going into action.

My 16 y/o daughter is going on her Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award hike (3 days & 2 nights) and expects to carry about 30lb.

Dilton Martian

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.

I'm sure all the gear whores that are reading, like myself, would still like more details.

What kind of pack, etc, gear weights down the a fraction of an ounce, etc.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh my! The Atlas Quest Widget is saying "We Can Help"

I'm thinking I'd like some help carrying that pack. lol!

It may not sound like a lot, but after 20 miles of hiking, I bet you are grateful to take it off and lay it down.
I regularly carry 40-50lb feed sacks for my chickens, llamas, goats and horse...and I can;t imagine strapping those bags to my back and hauling off down the trail for 20 miles. whew!

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers