Thursday, May 7, 2015

Backcountry Camping Preparation Has Begun..... Time to Get Moving!

In July my family will be heading out to The Tetons for our yearly camping trip.  Every week I tell myself to jump on the elliptical and work out and with every week that I ignore my good sense, our trip is getting closer and closer.  Time is running out and I'm procrastinating.  Not a good combination when everything you need will be strapped to your back and you'll be walking roughly 10-12 miles a day.  I've got to get busy!

My pack is an REI pack and I really love it.  I did some research and there was another brand pack that came highly recommended but when I tried it on it was really uncomfortable and not a good fit for me.  This one fit like a glove and felt good from the get go.  Always try on and don't worry so much about the reviews, go with what feels good for you.
  You'd think by looking at it I could pack for a week and still have room but looks can be quite deceiving.  At 65L of carrying capacity it's amazing how little I can actually cram in here.  I couldn't carry everything I've got pictured above, mainly because of the size and shape of the objects.  Today I'm going to share with you my "training" pack,  I'll be carrying it while taking the dog for her morning walks (which become runs at times so I'm starting really light so I can adjust to that, it's gonne be interesting).
 This is the sleeping bag we carry.  Really warm and comfy.
 For added comfort and warmth we also carry a sleeping pad (in the black bag).  It's a blow up, lightweight pad that I believe is 1 1/2" thick when blown up.  Really quite comfy.  The sleeping bag is see thru on the bottom, it's made to work with the pad.  The pad is said to reflect your body heat back up while blocking the cold ground.  I was a little nervous about a sleeping bag with no padding on the bottom but it's really quite warm.  The orange bag is a liner, which also adds some warmth to the equation but it's main purpose is to protect the sleeping bag and make it last longer.  You could really just use it some nights but I love the warmth of the sleeping bag.
It's also a good idea to carry something to protect your pack and all your belongings from rain.  You could just as easily carry a black trash bag.  We only used this once on our last trip for a couple hours.  Honestly, I'd rather carry it and not need it than be stuck in a downpour without it and have everything be soaking wet.  I don't mind the rain, but if I'm cold, I'm miserable and trust me, keeping me from getting too cold is a necessity!
 I also carry the tent.  This is the one we have, it's really easy to put up and take down and it fits two people comfortably.  We did add some waterproofing along all seams as recommended and sprayed it with bug spray as well.  Worked great!
 This is one of our lovely bear vaults, they are required in the parks that have bears.  When it's full (all food, soaps, bug sprays, anything with scent, goes in here) it weighs from 10-12 lbs.

 This is my rain gear.  I don't really like it, it's quite uncomfortable and stiff, but it does work to keep you dry.  Trust me, this is a must, not only for hypothermia issues but also for your sanity if you're hiking with me and I'm miserably cold. 

Remember what I said about my backpack looking so huge but not really able to carry as much as you'd think.  Here's a look at that.  This is the pack with my Frogg Todd's in the very bottom and my sleeping bag (with the liner in it) on top.  It takes the entire space on the bottom of the bag.  Still have a ton of room, right!
 Next goes the Bear Vault.  Now I have a small amount of space on either side of the bear vault and a couple inches above.  That's it. 
 I usually bring two changes of clothes and a small jacket.  I've added my sleeping pad rolled on one side and any clothes I add will be rolled and crammed down the side of the pack.  I have water shoes that we use for camp shoes that fit on top of the vault and a few small odds n ends.  Done.  That's all the interior will hold.  There are a variety of pockets all around for small items and pockets for water bottles on either side.  By the time I'm done they're all full.
I put the tent on the outside across the top.  I always see pictures of people carrying it on the bottom, the pack has straps for that but it feels awful for me, pulling me backwards and hitting me in the butt every time I take a step.  No thanks.  Putting it at the top helps with balancing and feels much, much better.
For now, with the following items, my bag weighs 12.4 lbs. 
Frog Togg Top and Bottom
Sleeping Bag and Liner
Sleeping Pad
Empty Bear Vault
This is what I'm going to start with in order to walk/run with the dog.  Hopefully running won't be too bad and I can add weight quickly, giving me more time to get used to the full weight of the pack and all it's items.
 Last year it was 35 lbs on day one.  Hoping to trim a little bit off of that this year but really, I'm carrying things I'm not willing to leave behind so probably not.  Jason on the other hand, started with a pack weighing 45 lbs and carried many things that were non-essentials and we never used.  I'm sure he'll be re-evaluating what he brings.  
Next time I'll share with you a few of the other items we carry and be adding a little bit more to my pack.  I've got lots of dehydrating to do as well, it'll be here before we know it, and food is definitely a priority. 

Have you ever done any backcountry camping?  If so, what were your necessity items and what could you live without?

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