Basic Backpacking Gear
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Miscellaneous - Water Filtration -
Flashlights - Maps - Fishing Gear
Water filters are one of the finest inventions for us camping types. It
sure beats carrying your water in, though it entails you accepting a fair
amount of personal responsibility. Some of that stuff out there swimming
around is dangerous! While you shouldn't discount that, on the other hand
you shouldn't overreact to it either. Though I don't drink water straight
from the lakes and streams I hike around and canoe in, I do often find myself
swimming in them, and have you ever been swimming without getting a mouthful
of water from time to time? Use caution and common sense. Education and
preparation are your responsibility.
This is the enemy. Giardia. Cute, eh?
The following information is from Newsgroups: rec.backcountry
Subject: [l/m 3/4/96] Water filters & Giardia Distilled Wisdom (9/28)
REI Water Filters Comparison Chart:
For room reasons I left off two filters. Its specs are, in order:
1.0 absolute, 12 oz., 2, Granular active carbin & ceramic, $.07,
1000, 60 MINUTES!, $40.00, $60.00.
2.0 absolute, 6 oz., 1, Spun Polypro, $.30,
100, 70 Seconds, $??.??, $30.00.
The filtering times are probably based on a new unit. Some units are
easy to clean, one can't be properly, and one can be cleaned on the fly.
Lower prices can be found elsewhere than REI. REI charges list mostly.
Also note some units are easier to use (and clean) than others.
Notes: 1st Need, Timberline, and Basic Designs require iodine to treat
bacteria and viruses. Katadyn and MSR require iodine to treat viruses.
Only PUR requires no additional iodine. With carbon elements, only MSR,
1st Need, and Basic Designs remove harmful chemicals.
(again, the above information was from Newsgroups:rec.backcountry)
I've used a First Need filter exclusively and haven't had any
problems. Occasionally you'll find that even a brand new filter will clog
up in a hurry and no amount of back-washing will help. I understand that's
caused from an algae "bloom" in the water. You'll be way up that
creek if you don't have a spare filter... and then you've got to hope that
one doesn't clog up, too. Ahh! The position we put ourselves in when we
depend too much on technology, eh? I've heard so much good about the Katadyn
filters that I'd like to get one ... but they, too, are pretty pricey. There
is a new model out now for under $150. That just might be the ticket! As
much as I hate to spend that sum of money, I suppose you've got to realize
that it's pretty cheap insurance, lasts a long time, and is, in fact, cheaper
in the long run than the less expensive models. So much to consider.
I never realized before starting these pages how many things used in backpacking
can cause such a stir among their users! Flashlights have the headlamp crowd
and the mini-mag crowd. Strap it on your head or stick it in your mouth.
I've never really thought too much about the whole situation. I've used
mini-mags. They're nice. I've never used a headlamp. Just never had the
opportunity, I suppose. I've used the "3 flashlights for $2.99"
and only had one go bad on me; then I had the other two. All in all, I guess
I've just never used a flashlight very often. I generally try to plan my
day so that I'm in camp and cooking while it's still light outside. Cooking
by the light of a flashlight is a pain. Better to plan a little better and
use the natural light of day wisely.
After you've cooked and cleaned up and it's getting dark, you're better
off just not having a bunch of light around. It's amazing how light it is
outside if you let your eyes get acclimated to the ambient light. We've
spent many hours just staring up at the sky after dark, first watching the
sattelites drift by, then picking out constellations and watching the Milky
Way. Up within spittin' distance of Lake Superior we see the Aurora fairly
often. But only if we don't have a bunch of lights flashing around.
When it's time to turn in (sometimes as late as 8 or even >>9<<
o'clock!) a candle lantern or two in the tent has always been sufficient
to read those couple pages of Robert Service before zipping up the sleeping
bag. I've always liked the light from a candle lantern. If you haven't used
one, spend the couple of bucks and take one along on your next trip. Lovely
I really don't have much to say about sleeping bags. I've used a North Face
poly bag for years. Never got cold at night, never minded the bulk. Friends
of mine use down bags and they do smoosh down to a nice small size... I
have just always been in too much wet weather, wet surroundings to feel
comfortable with a down bag. I do believe that here's a place to spend your
money. Get a good bag (aren't they all good?). A good bag will give you
all the comforts of home when you're far away. Watch for a strong zipper
that zips from top and bottom, tube seal inside the zipper, and shingled
seams. Get a good stuff sack and never keep your bag in the stuff
sack when you're not on the trail. Clean it from time to time and sleep
the sleep of the just... the just plain tired.
The maps you will require depend, in great part, on where you're going to
be doing your hiking. I've found plat books to be a great help. They'll
clearly show you if that land you'd like to hike on is privately owned or
is municipal. They have good detail; all the little roads, trails, creeks,
and buildings in a scale that's handy. They're available at your county
clerk's office for about $20 per county. A good investment.
Next step up on the list of great maps to own are, of course, USGS topographical
maps. The handiest are the 7.5 minute series which gives you a lot of detail.
Spending time poring over maps in one of my favorite passtimes in the winter
months and a stack of good topo maps is a treat. As you spend more time
with them, you'll be able to easily visualize just what the terrain is like,
and in the field, you'll be able to positively identify your location by
comparing the terrain around you to what is on the map. Get a couple of
topos for the area you're going to hike well before you head out to the
trailhead. Spend time to know them. They're invaluable. You can get a pamphlet
about topos in your area from: U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO 80225
or from local map dealers.
If you're hiking on Federal or State Lands, check in at the ranger's office.
They generally have a plethora of maps for the areas you wish to hike. Use
a little caution, though. I've found quite a few maps handed out for specific
trails that vary a lot from what the topos show and from what the lay of
the land really is. Artist's renditions of trail maps are nasty. Topos are
a better bet.
Another really great source for maps of all types is Milwaukee Map Service
- 959 N Mayfair Road, Milwaukee, WI - (414) 774-1300. Last I heard, these
guys were out in the field checking the accuracy of the topographic maps
that are made from aerial photos. If you're a map person, this store is
worth checking out if you're ever in the area. Map Heaven.
A map isn't going to do you a whole heck of a lot of good unless you have
a good compass and know how to use it. Spend time in familiar areas learning
how it works before setting out into unknown territory.
One of the neatest little devices I've seen lately is called the Streamliner.
It's developer and manufacturer learned about a native Costa Rican device
used for fishing that's extremely compact and lightweight, yet can be used
to accurately cast and retrieve fish up to 6+ pounds. Take a look at Jack
Cohen's website (www.streamlines.com)
to see how it's best used and how to order it. The streamliner is inexpensive
enough for all of us and has a simplicity that's admirable. Be the first
on your block to have a gadget that's unique and effective! I'll be looking
forward to the ice going out so I can get out and try mine!
Until I'm able to get out and practice using my new streamliner, I'll be
using my trusty Browning collapsible spinning rod. It's a fine quality glass
5-1/2 foot rod that collapses inside itself to just a little more than 16
inches. Good action, light weight, slips down in the corner of a pack with
no problem. I'm always leary of snapping the tip off in the pack, though,
and the Shakespeare ultra-light reel I carry does add some substantial weight
for the long hauls when packed with a minimum amount of spinning tackle...
but the rewards of having a pan of fresh crappies or large mouth bass at
the end of the day make it all worthwhile! (return
to boating page)
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