Matt's 7 Day Backpacking checklist

 __ Reservations - Reserve campsite in advance  Hint: #1 - Make a checklist of stuff to pack. There's no better way to remind yourself what to take, what works, and what doesn't.

 __ Backpack - It goes without saying that your pack is extremely important. A good pack will be your faithful friend, helping you during the entire trip. A poor pack will be your beast of burden. You'll loathe putting it on, your stuff won't stay dry, you body will ache, and you'll be a cranky. So, get a good pack! Money has value here, it doesn't in the wilderness.

The best packs in the world are made by Dana, Gregory, and Mountainsmith. If you step down a notch you'll get into the excellent value, good quality packs. Packs made by Kelty, The North Face, Lowe Alpine, and REI. There are plenty of other options but I've been on too many trips with Eureka or Jansport gear that failed.

Packing - Packing your bag correctly will make a huge difference in how your pack performs. On a long trip, it's essential to pack properly.

The rule of thumb is to keep all the heavy stuff towards the top of the pack as close to your body as possible. The easy way to do this is put all the light stuff in the bottom of your pack. Your sleeping back goes in the very bottom compartment.



__ Map (buy at trailhead)
__ Trash bags (emergency poncho / pack cover)
__ LED headlamp
__ Fresh batteries
__ Compass
__ Pocket knife (Razor sharp, ultra-light )
__ Matches (waterproof) & BIC lighter
__ Fire starter(s) (magnesium starter, wax logs)
__ 100 feet of mountaineering cord.
__ Sun glasses.

Essentials are the things you need to survive and don't let out of your sight. My pack has a handy top that detaches to become a fanny pack. I store my essentials there and can easily remove it from the pack for day hikes without the full load.

Use your compass! If you don't know how you got there, a compass can't tell you how to get home.


__ Tent/tarp dependent on weather/insects
__ Emergency Blanket, used as ground cloth for tent
__ Sleeping bag or Fleece blanket
__ Pillow
__ Sleeping pad (Thermarest)
__ Emergency Blanket

If insects aren't an issue, I carry a tarp. Otherwise, I have a variety of tents. Buy a good one, you'll never regret it.

During the summer I carry a fleece blanket and during the fall and winter I pack a down filled sleeping bag. During mid-winter I take both.

 Cleaning & Personal Items

__ All purpose Soap (castile)
__ Toothpaste & toothbrush
__ Toilet Paper
__ Diaper wipes

Major Hint #2 - Diaper wipes. They sound like a bad idea but two of those per day is just right. They can clean anything from sausage grease off your fingers, a messy behind, or even your blackened pots & pans. One wipe can clean a whole lotta stuff.


__ Duct tape (wrapped around something usefule like a lighter)
__ Camera w/full battery
__ ID - drivers license & credit card
__ Sunscreen - (SPF 45 + bite-block)
__ Insect repellent

Major Hint #3 .The Chocolate Rule. When deciding what to leave behind on a backpacking trip, The Chocolate Rule is helpful. Simply ask, "Would I rather have this <insert gadget here>, or an equal weight of chocolate?"


__ Hat - as weather dictates
__ Bandana
__ Underwear - 2 pair - (Duofold coolmax).
__ Long underwear (lightweight polypro long sleeve top and bottoms)
__ Tshirts - 2 coolmax
__ Shirt - Ex Officio long sleeve
__ Sock liners - Two lightweight nylon / Coolmax
__ Socks - Two smart wool hiker.
__ Water/windproof Jacket (Columbia parka)
__ Water/windproof Pants (Goretex)
__ Hiking boots - Vasque Explorer
__ Sandals - Teva
__ Swim suit

Major Hint #4 : No Cotton, you're better of naked. No jeans, cotton undies, or T-shirts. Cotton is bad packing wear. It's heavy, absorbs sweat and stink, doesn't wash easily, and doesn't let moisture go.

Nearly any synthetic cloth is better than cotton. The best fabrics for your base layer is coolmax, bergelene, and caprilene. These are wicking fabrics and will draw moisture away from your body and release it keeping you dry in warm or cold weather.

Cover your base layer with something appropriate for the days weather and have an outer weatherproof shell available for nasty weather.


__ Cooking Stove & Fuel (MSR Whisperlite Int'l 600)
__ Pot or sauce pan - With lid. (MSR stainless two quart pan w/lid)
__ Plate - Lexan (very versatile)
__ Large mug/cup
__ Spoon (Lexan)
__ Ziplock Bags
__ Aluminum Foil

Food & Drink

__ Water filter - (MSR Miniworks)
__ Aquamira water treatment
__ Water bottle - (Nalgene 1 liter smoke colored)
__ Oatmeal - Instant single serving packs
__ Powdered milk
__ Mashed potato flakes
__ Rice packages - boil in bags are nice
__ Hard bread (pita shells, bagels) and/or Trisciut crackers
__ Salami / Sausage / Pepperoni
__ Jerky - BBQ Pork or Beef & Honey Ham Turkey
__ Cheese - Sharp cheddar, swiss, mozzarella
__ Granola Bars & Snickers
__ GORP (Mixed nuts & M&M's.)

Prepackaged Meals

__ Mountain house
__ Pack Lite Foods for Camping and Backpacking
__ AlpineAire Foods
__ Backpacker's Pantry Foods
__ Natural High Foods

Major hint #5 - Ziploc bags. Ziplocs are the best. They work great for keeping food fresh, camera's, wallets, and maps dry, and containing smelly wildlife attractants like your sausage wrappers. Don't skimp, buy the ziploc brand bags. They're heavier plastic and the lock on the bags is more durable. An incident on N. Manitou Island involving chopped onions and a Ziploc wannabe cured me of ever buying non-Ziploc brand bags.

Major hint #6 - Drink heavily. The more water you can get into your system the better. If you can down a gallon of water at the start of the trail, do it. Drink about 3 times as much as you should. If you're thirsty, drink even more, you're already getting dehydrated.

I have my old standby's listed to the left. You can take whatever you want but those are foods we've found that are dense and satisfying.

Major Hint #7 - Never put those little liquid-dispensing flip-top bottles inside (or near) a mesh stuffsack. The holes in the mesh are just the right size to grab the flip-top spout and the jostling of your pack will dispense liquid soap, cooking oil or primer fuel all over your gear. I had this happen on one trip. Fortunately I had the soap inside a ziploc.

 First Aid Kit

__ Triangular Bandages
__ "Ace" Bandage
__ Supports weakened limb joints.
__ Holds compresses or splints in place.
__ Sterile pads 4"X 4" - Dress large wounds.
__ 4" bandage compress - Dresses large wounds.
__ Band-aids - Treat small wounds.
__ Roll of adhesive tape
__ Moleskin tape squares - Prevent and treat blisters.
__ Antiseptic soap - Cleans wounds
__ Tube of chapstick - Prevents dry lips
__ Aspirin - Relieves aches and pains.
__ Antacid - Relieves nausea.
__ Small scissors - Cuts moleskin and tape.
__ Safety pins - Hold compresses or splints in place.
__ Tweezers - Remove splinters and ticks.
__ Allerest
__ Poison Oak remedies - antihistamine creams.
__ Superglue (liquid skin)

A wise hiker sits where he can. A sleeping pad stuffed into a Thermarest chair or folded Z•rest is more comforable than any rock or log.

When lost, S.T.O.P. (Stop. Think. Observe.

Use your brain. The single most important
survival tool you can bring with you is your brain

 Dog Gear

__ Pack (Mountainsmith Pack III)
__ Small tarp (grab a stick and make a lean-to)
__ Water bottle (mountain bike style for him to drink from)
__ 30 feet of mountaineer rope. Use to secure the tarp and the dog.
 Get the biggest one they make. I'm not going to carry 20 pounds of dog food while he's running circles around me!