A true outdoors-man (or woman) has probably heard of the “10 Essentials” for any wilderness trip. If you’re not familiar, here they are:
- Navigation (maps)
- Hydration (water + filtration system)
- Sun Protection
- Insulation (sleeping bag + extra layers)
- Warmth (see We Didn’t Start the Fire… or Did We?)
- First Aid Kit
- Shelter (tent)
- Safety (whistle)
But if you’re like me, you aren’t hitting the trails simply to survive. You’re out there to enjoy yourself, see the sites you can’t get to in half a day’s hike, and make some memories. Let’s make sure those memories are good ones by keeping your pack lightweight, organized, and dry! These are the “other” 10 essentials:
#1. TRASH BAG
(image from wanderingthewild.com)
Line the inside of your backpack with a kitchen trash bag before packing the rest of your gear. If your backpack has a hydration system, the hydration system should remain outside of the trash bag. This trick will help keep your gear dry if your hydration bag leaks, if you find yourself in an unexpected downpour, or if you drop your pack in the creek you’re crossing.
#2. ZIP LOCK BAGS
If your clothes and gear get wet, you’ll be miserable! Gallon-sized zip lock bags can add an additional layer of protection, and help to organize your toiletries, sleeping clothes, extra layers, and food. This way you can easily pack, unpack, and repack your bag throughout the trip. To save space in your pack, be sure to squeeze the air out of each zip lock bag. Also, be sure to pack extra zip lock bags so you can store your trash. Remember: Pack out what you pack in!
#3. THREE PAIRS OF SOCKS
This isn’t a luxury trip. You don’t need a fresh pair of socks each day, but you do need at least three pairs, no matter how long your trip is: One pair on your feet + one pair (dry) in your bag + one pair drying out (tied to your bag while you hike), if your feet got wet! Wet socks will cause blisters. Don’t chance it!
Again, we’re going with the wet theme. Wool-based garments, like fleece, will keep you warm even when wet (without feeling wet!). Leave that big bulky cotton hoodie at home, and pack a nice lightweight fleece instead. Wool socks will come in handy on cold weather trips too!
Don’t get caught in an emergency situation without your ID. I always (always! always!) carry my photo ID, credit card, and insurance card, then let someone else in my group know where I’ve stashed it; it doesn’t matter if I’m hiking the trails or riding my bike. RoadID is another great option.
Hey! You can count your Team Green Adventures Membership card as a form of ID, too!
A bandana is an AMAZING item to pack! It’ll keep hair and sweat out of your eyes, the sun off your neck, and dust out of your nose and mouth. It can become a first aid sling, bandage or tourniquet. It can be used as a potholder, wash cloth, dish rag, or filter for your coffee. If you’re gathering fruits or berries, it can act as a make-shift basket. If you know of other great uses, mention them in our comments section!
#7. FIND MY FRIENDS APP
If you’re carrying an iPhone on the trail, there are a few good apps worth downloading that won’t drain your battery much. The Find Friends app taps into your phone’s GPS data and shares your location with your friends who also have the app. As long as your phone is on and in service, these people will know where you are. Mom will love that!
Unfortunately, this is only an Apple app, so it won’t work with other smartphone devices.
#8. WEATHER ALERT APP
Again, if you’re carrying an iPhone on the trail, it’s worth downloading a weather alert app with push notifications. Unexpected weather conditions can pop up anywhere, and most likely you won’t be close enough to the city to hear the sirens. I’m a big fan of the NOAA Weather Alerts– Severe Weather Notification app ($3.99). It alerts you with a siren distinct to the alert (tornado vs. flooding vs. storm vs. high winds). I keep my app on a 35 mile radius, which is about how far a tornado can travel in an hour.
#9. JUST-ADD-WATER MEALS
I’m not talking about the freeze dried packets you can buy at the outdoor gear stores; I’m talking about the kind of food you might make at home (if you don’t mind all the preservatives). Enjoy food some food with real flavor, without spending a lot of time at the camp kitchen. Pasta is an easy one, but you might not want to lug around a jar of sauce. Try pre-packaged pasta with a dry sauce, like Ramen Noodles or PastaRoni. Oatmeal is an obvious backpackers’ breakfast, but you can also try just-add-water pancake mix. A dry gourmet soup mix might make the perfect fall evening meal. Open up your options!
Be sure to transfer your ingredients into zip lock bags (no need to carry all that cardboard on the trail).
#10. CHANGE OF CLOTHES
On a backpacking trip you can make-do with one pair of sleeping clothes and one pair of trail clothes. This keeps your pack light, with room for extra food and water (your main concerns). But, there’s no need to drive all the way home smelling like you’re still on the trail! Have a fresh change of clothes and shoes (I prefer my house slippers!) ready and waiting for you in the car. It’s the next best thing to a bath and a beer.
THEN… go get yourself a bath and a beer! You’ve earned it!
Check out Team Green’s Checklists on our Resources Page for additional backpacking, day hiking, and car camping tips, then consider signing up for our Beginner Backpacking to Hobbs Cabin (Oct 25-26th) and our Intermediate Backpacking to Froze Head State Park (Nov 15-16th)! If you don’t have gear for your next overnight backpacking trip, contact the Nashville Area Mountain High Outfitters. They can help you find the right gear, and even have rentals!
-Keeley (Team Green’s Director)