Edmonton Outdoor Club - Events - Checklists - Backpacking

Questions about equipment? Send them to safety@edmontonoutdoorclub.com.

For those of you not familiar with the different levels of camping:
Car Camping/Walk-In - easy, drive right up to the plot, typically restroom/showers nearby
Primitive/Backcountry/Secluded - moderate, typically without restroom/showers nearby
Backpacking - difficult, you walk miles from your car with everything you need on your back

Minimum When Backpacking With EOC (Or On Your Own)

One or More Buddies
Tell Someone at Home of Your Intended Route. Be careful of using Facebook to tell people you are away. Thieves sometimes use this info.
Backpack (45 to 85 liters)
Lightweight tent with a 'footprint' to prevent punctures to the base of the tent
Small tarp to sit upon and lay gear before loading in the pack as well as a vestibule mat. A survival (mylar) blanket is handy in some situations but is not suitable for a tarp.
Lightweight -7 (or suitable for the season) degree sleeping bag, pad and optional fold-up pillow.
Eating/cooking utensils, cup and bowl or high-sided plate, pot - if you are alone, doubles as cookware
Small stove & fuel. Usually one stove per 2 people
Water bottles & water hydration pack. You may want to mix juices or electrolyte packs in a water bottle.
Water Purification Filter, Iodine Tablets or Pristine water treatment system (drops)
Snack Fuel Food for Hiking (Protein Bars & Trail Mix)
Freeze-dried meals or pre-prepared menu items
Headlamp (flashlights tend to be heavy and unwieldy)
Camp soap & washcloth. 2 small micro-fiber cloths work well - one for washing, one for drying
Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental Floss
Deodorant - Remember that this and the toothpaste attract animals so it must go into a bear-proof locker or hanging bag. Try a deodorant stone that has no smell but prevents B.O.
Women - Pack tampons even if not expecting to use them (backpacking can do strange things to your cycle)
Contact lens wearers - Bring solution & back up glasses
Ear plugs - Crows and song birds can be real annoying at day break and so can snorers in the next tent
Sunscreen (which should be at least SPF 15 & applied 30 min ahead to be effective)
Lip balm - can double as a fire starter in an emergency
Insect repellent and light weight head net if in mosquito season. The light weight ones require a hat also to keep them from clinging to your face. First aid kit bag is a good place to store this.
Hat, visor, and/or sunglasses. A brimmed hat is better than a baseball style for use with mosquito netting and also to shade the back of the neck and ears in hot sun
One change of clothes, long underwear can double as pajamas, bandanna, fleece jacket, gloves & hat for cold weather, plus extra underwear & no-cotton wool/synthetic socks (liners too)
Broken-in/waterproofed hiking boots with ankle support for backpacking & camp shoes suitable for water crossings
Rain jacket and pants, poncho and/or pack cover (large strong garbage bag preferred) for backpack if it rains
Nearby swim hole? Swimsuit & towel - or not. Your hand towels listed above are often enough to dry to get redressed. Have a fire going before you enter the water.
First Aid Kit (bandages, antibiotic ointment, prescriptions, tweezers, bee sting kit). Pain killer/muscle relaxants (Tylenol or Advil) will help you relax to sleep. Accident reporting paper with golf style pencil (ink will freeze or dry out)
Swiss army knife - Look for one with scissors or small pliers
Waterproof matches, or 2 lighters (flint type will start fire without fuel)
Bear-bag cord - 50 feet and water-proof bag of suitable size to hold your food, cooking pots and dishes and toiletries
Reading material, deck of cards and/or journal & pen
Plastic/garbage bag to carry out garbage - a Ziploc is often large enough
Trekking poles wrapped with duct tape so that it is handy for use on blisters or emergency repair
Toilet paper (plus a plastic bag to carry it in and out where applicable) also a small hand sanitizer in the water proof toilet paper bag. A Ziploc works well to keep the toilet paper dry until use.
Maps/Compass/GPS - At least one of each per group. GPS carries the map but a copy of the map and trail description can be carried in a Ziploc bag for reference. No sense carrying a whole guide book
Camera and extra batteries. Try to have all your battery requiring gadgets use the same kind of batteries.
Pea-less whistle
Mora knife (sheathed knife with solid blade and handle) and collapsible saw if making a fire in areas where fires are permitted
Bear spray in easy reach
Backpacking camp permit information

*To protect your tent from accidental snags on rocks or roots, you should always use a tarp or ground cover under your tent! Be smart when selecting a tarp or ground cover if one is not supplied. You want your tarp/ground cover to be cut exactly to the size of the bottom of your tent. Why? Because, if it were to rain, you don't want to encourage rain to collect in pools on the tarp and roll right under your tent. You can buy a cheap tarp at a discount store and the first time you set up your tent - cut it to size. Another word to the wise - set up your tent on high ground, away from the fire pit, and not at the bottom of any slopes in the ground.

**When you go backpacking with another person that you will be sharing a tent with, it is best to have one person carry the rope and tent in their pack and the other carry the poles and the rain flap. If you were to get separated on the trail, at least you each will have parts for a make-shift shelter.

Lightweight Backpackers List
An experienced COC backpacker has provided the following advice on how to keep the weight of your backpack down:

- Best of all, is carrying a water filter (100 g - 454 g) and chemicals if you're going to be near water. Then you don't have to carry too much water.
- For dishes/cookware, a bowl and insulated travel mug are enough (don't bother with a plate), and usually one pot is plenty as you only have one burner and can only cook one thing at a time anyways. If you go gourmet, however, and don't want to eat cook in a bag stuff, you will need more pots and will have to carry a heavier pack. I have an 87 g stove that is fuel efficient so 1 small cartridge is good for 3 days, 2 nights for sure, maybe 4 days, 3 nights. The 3-pc lexan cutlery set is durable and light and depending on what you are eating, you may be able to get away with just the spoon. Some extremists cut the handles off their cutlery and toothbrush as well as all the tags and pockets from their clothes, but I like having handles on my cutlery and how the heck could you eat if it's cold and your hands are frozen and shaking in gloves and you have no handles on your cutlery?!?! Isn't it smarter to just bring a spoon and leave the other cutlery behind? I DO bring my Swiss army knife for cutting fruits, veggies, rope, kindling etc. Very heavy but very useful.
- Purist lightweight backpackers don't bring a thermarest, but it's too uncomfortable to go without so I've compromised with a "Trail Short" which goes to my calves and is adequate for comfort in the summer/fall. This is not usually good enough for many women, as their feet tend to get colder than men's.  For winter (or for women) you would need full length to protect you from the cold ground.
- For a comfortable seat, you can put clothes in a waterproof stuff sack.
- Pillow - you can stuff clothes in a stuff sack but try it out at home first - lay on the floor in your sleeping bag and put the makeshift pillow under your head. Some people aren't bothered by it, but I can't sleep like that. There is a great hollowfill pillow at MEC for less than $10 that is worth its weight in gold. Get it if you want a good night's sleep. It isn't that heavy and compresses down quite small (about the size as a Nalgene bottle).
- Sleeping bag - this will be bulkiest thing in your bag but it doesn't have to be the heaviest. I prefer down (MEC Raven, -7 bag, $135) because it's light, extremely compressible and very warm. My -7 down bag kept me warm in -8 while Oliver was shivering in his synthetic -7 North Face bag. The risk with down though is that if it gets wet, it takes forever to dry and won't keep you warm. If you buy down, make sure you've tested your tent and that it is waterproof Also have a repair kit or duct tape handy). Also, keep it the sleeping bag (any type) in a waterproof stuff sack or garbage bag while it's in your pack.
- Food - wraps are better than bread (flat so easier to pack, keep moisture and don't go stale/dry out), pitas are good too. Chopped peppers, cheese and smoked meats keep well and are great for sandwiches. Don't bring pickles! They have a strong smell and the vinegar seems to leak out of ziplocs particularly well! For dinners and breakfasts, I bring dehydrated stuff (porridge, instant soup, dehydrated dinners and apple crisp). Most people pack too much food, but if you're stranded because of weather/getting lost, extra is better than too little.

How to Pack your Backpack
An experienced backpacker has provided the following advice on how to pack your backpack:

- You don't want the heaviest stuff at the bottom. Put your sleeping bag in the bottom (in a garbage bag or waterproof cover), then put the heavy stuff (water, stove, pots, dishes, fuel, food) above it so the majority of the weight is above your hips.
- Above that should be clothes.
- Put your poles in the side of the pack
- Stuff the tent/fly in the top of your pack
- Put stuff you want to keep handy on the very top (rain gear/poncho, rain cover for pack, silver heat blanket, extra layers)
- Top compartment: sunscreen, headlamp, compass/gps, first aid kit, scrambling gloves, etc. Food/snacks for the day can be kept in the top compartment unless weather is warm and you think it might spoil. In that case, keep it next to your water and keep your water against your back.
- Thermarest can be strapped to the side or bottom of the pack depending on pack configuration (balance your pack's weight: if you have the poles, put the thermarest on the opposite side on the outside of the pack; if you don't have the poles, put the thermarest on the bottom)
- Tarps: I usually keep this folded and strapped to the side of my pack - handy as a group sit-upon or emergency shelter
- Shoes for water crossings can be carabinered to the outside

- Matches and striking section should be in a waterproof container - film container works great; put this inside your cooking pot
- Put sunscreen in a ziploc (or 2) as it's prone to explode with temp/pressure changes
- Test your equipment before heading out (headlamp, stove, GPS) & ensure you have enough fuel and batteries.

Think we forgot something from one of our lists? Let us know.