Timber Wolf, Lake Superior, Ontario

A lone timber wolf greets
paddlers along the north shore
of Lake Superior, Canada
(Photo by Michael Neiger)


He carried his
and a blanket
and the
Blessed Sacrament
on his back,
and I
carried the provisions--
smoked eels
and cold grease--
enough for three days.
   -- Willa Cather
   Shadows on the Rock,


these days
seem to rely
on high-tech solutions
to living outdoors
instead of
developing basic skills.
When trouble hits
and it's up to them
and not their equipment
to bail them out,
many can't
take care of themselves.
   -- Garret Conover


That man
is the richest
whose pleasures
are the cheapest
   -- Henry David Thoreau
   Journal, 1856


On fame's
eternal camping ground,
their silent tents
are spread,
and glory guards,
with solemn round,
the bivouac of the dead.
   -- Theodore O'hara
   Bivouac of the Dead,


there is something
in the unruffled
calm of nature
that overawes
our little anxieties
and doubts:
the sight
of the deep-blue sky,
and the clustering
stars above,
seem to impart
a quiet to the mind.
   -- Jonathan Edwards


For me,
and for thousands
with similar inclinations,
the most important
passion of life is the overpowering desire
to escape periodically
from the clutches of a
mechanistic civilization.

To us
the enjoyment
of solitude,
complete independence,
and the beauty
of undefiled panoramas
is absolutely essential
to happiness.
   -- Bob Marshall


Nature gives
to every time
and season
some beauties
of its own;
and from
morning to night,
as from
cradle to the grave,
is but a succession of
changes so gentle
and easy
that we can scarcely
mark their progress.
   -- Charles Dickens


Nature is the living, visible garment of God.
   -- Johann W.
   von Goethe


How great
are the advantages
of solitude!
How sublime
is the silence
of nature's
ever-active energies!
There is something
in the very name
of wilderness
which charms the ear,
and soothes
the spirit of man.
There is religion in it.

When ever
the light of civilization
faces upon you
with a blighting power...
go to the wilderness...
Dull business routine,
the fierce passions
of the marketplace,
the perils
of envious cities
became but a memory...
The wilderness
will take hold of you.
It will give you
good red blood;
it will turn you
from a weakling
into a man...
You will soon
behold all
with a peaceful soul.
   -- Estwick Evans


Into the woods
we return to
reason and faith.
Whoso walketh
in solitude,
and inhabiteth the wood,
choosing light,
and bird,
the money-loving herd,
into that forester
shall pass,
from these companions,
power and grace.

...in the wilderness,
I find something
more dear
and connate
than in the streets
or villages...
in the woods
we return
to reason and faith.
   -- Ralph W. Emerson

The Rucksack Masthead
By Michael A. Neiger, Marquette, Michigan
Wilderness tripper: backpacking, winter camping, swift-water canoeing
Web site URL: http://therucksack.tripod.com • E-mail: mneiger@hotmail.com
Contents copyright © 1984-2007 by Michael A. Neiger • All rights reserved.


A RuckSack primer on...

Print this list
out and use it
to check off
each item as
you stow it
in your

By Michael A. Neiger
Copyright 2002

Last revised March 2, 2006


Essential Gear
Essential gear for any wilderness
outing (Photo by Michael Neiger)

Contents of page

   Emergency gear
      Survival kit
      Fire building gear
      First-aid kit
      Repair kit
   Bush clothing
      Head and face gear
      Upper-body clothing
      Lower-body clothing
   Wilderness travel
      Land navigation gear
      Hydration gear
      Insect gear
   Wilderness bivouacs
      Bivouac gear
      Ration heating gear
      Lighting gear
      Personal items
      Hygiene gear
      Vehicle checks

Q: How much should
your pack weigh?

A: Your pack should weigh
between 20 and 30 percent
of your body weight.


Pack as percent of body weight
    20%            25%             30%

110 22 28 33
120 24 30 36
130 26 33 39
140 28 35 42
150 30 38 45
160 32 40 48
170 34 43 51
180 36 45 54
190 38 48 57
200 40 50 60
210 42 53 63
220 44 55 66


Looking for
trip supplies
and equipment?
For 100's of sources
for wilderness tripping
equipment and supplies,
visit the sources for gear
page on this Web site.

Notice to Go-Liters

The gear listed below is intended to see you through if you encounter foul weather--such as two days of cold, wind-driven rain--injuries, equipment failure, or some other unforeseen problem during a three-season trek. Winter treks, as well as early and late season treks, may require additional equipment.

Follow this list closely as it's based on the successes and failures of literally 100's of demanding, foul-weather wilderness trips--some of which have gone bad, so bad that trekkers have nearly died.

While there's a lot to be said for the emerging go-lite philosophy, do not cut your reserve clothing to save weight, or simply because you've not used it lately. The backup hat, balaclava, set of polypro underwear, and extra insulating layers are your main line of defense against hypothermia in foul weather. To save weight, cut back on stoves, tents, camp chairs, inflatable pads, candle lanterns, and foods that are canned or moisture-laden.

FACT: Hypothermia is the number one killer of trekkers like us. Over the years, it has nearly killed several people on my trips. Too far gone to change into their dry, spare layers on their own, I had to do it for them. Make sure you've got some dry, backup layers stowed deep in your rucksack when your number comes up. I'll be reaching for them.

Triple-check your gear, especially for an early or late-season trip--your life, or the life of a fellow tripper, may depend on what you stow, or fail to stow, in your rucksack.

See you in the bush.

Contacts for vendors listed below


L.L. Bean

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)
   Note: all prices are in Canadian dollars

Outdoor Research


Recreational Equipment, Inc., (REI)

Additional backpacking equipment vendors


Emergency gear


In-pocket survival kit (mandatory)

IN-POCKET SURVIVAL KITS ARE MANDATORY ON MY TRIPS! The items listed below represent your LAST LINE OF SELF-DEFENSE in an emergency situation and, as such, you should never, ever, under any circumstances, become separated from them--don't carry them in a removable fanny pack, backpack, or an outer garment which may be removed during the day.

You should travel with them, swim with them, eat with them, search for firewood with them, relieve yourself with them, hang your food bag with them, and sleep with them. You won't understand the importance of this habit until you find yourself without them one day.

Group tripping tends to breed a false sense of security--don't fall into this deadly trap. People have gotten separated from their gear and the group in the past and it's only a matter of time before it happens again. Carry these items religiously and practice using them so you're prepared.

Notice: If you don't agree with this trip requirement--and many trekkers do not--then you should not participate in this trip.

An easy way to keep these items together is to string them on a lanyard and then loop the lanyard around your neck or through a belt loop, buttonhole, or safety pin to prevent accidental loss. Another excellent way to effortlessly carry these items is to disperse them on individual lanyards among the pockets in a pair of hiking shorts that you wear as an undergarment. Just make sure to tether each and every item to a belt loop, button hole, or large safety pin to prevent loss.

[  ] Waterproof matches

Source: Campmor no. 23130

Tip: Keep them in their box as these are safety-type matches and can't be lit without the striker. To prevent wear and tear, store the matchbox in a plastic bag in an empty dental floss container; to prevent accidental loss, thread a loop of cordage through holes in opposing sides of the upper edge of the container and then secure lid with duct tape. Carry an extra box in your rucksack.

Note: either add additional matches, staggering the heads, or add packing material so the matches cannot move about in the box. If you fail to do this, you may find nothing but several match sticks and some fine powder (ground up match heads) in the box when you need them most. Also, these matches are more water-repellent than waterproof: If you get them wet and fail to dry them out, the match heads will turn to mush. If the box and striker stay wet, they too may become useless. This is one more reason to carry the magnesium fire starter or "metal match" listed below. Keep this in mind when fording the next river.

[  ] Waterproof firestarter sticks

Source: Campmor no. 23132

Tip: Cut to size and carry same as matches listed above. Carry extra ones in your rucksack.

[  ] Sturdy lock-blade knife

Source: Campmor no. 25995 (Victorinox Adventurer)

Tip: This knife should be a sturdy, high-quality, lock-blade pocket knife or fixed-blade knife. Of all of its uses, the most critical one is getting at the dry heartwood of wet wood/sticks when you have difficulty getting a fire going during, or immediately after, foul weather. This is a skill you should hone until it becomes second nature. Attach to a lanyard.

[  ] Whistle

Source: Campmor no. 84731 (Silva Sportsman's 4-in-1 tool)

Tip: Pea-less whistles are the best. Avoid metal, ball-type whistles as they tend to jam with sand or snow and in extreme cold, the metal can stick to your lips. Attach to a lanyard.

[  ] Compass

Source: Campmor no. 81200 (Silva Polaris 177 $10)

Tip: Stick with a high-quality compass from one of the big three manufacturers--Silva, Suunto, or Brunton. Attach to a lanyard.

[  ] Magnesium Fire Starter

Source: Campmor no. 23131

Tip: These come with a built-in flint striker and are standard issue in military survival kits, and for good reason. Keep in mind that they can't be used without a knife or other sharp object (carry a 3-inch-long piece of a hacksaw blade, threading it on lanyard through a hole at one end, in case you loose your knife) and that they require a high level of proficiency to be effective as a fire starting tool. Learn how to use this tool ahead of time. Attach to a lanyard. Ask leader for help on the trip if you can't master this essential skill.

[  ] County map or topographic map for area of travel.

Source: See info on the Land Navigation Page

Tip: Waterproof and carry in heavy-duty zip-lock bag. Bury a spare copy deep in your rucksack.

Optional items

[  ] Signal mirror

Source: Campmor no. 83003 (1 oz, 2-by-3 inch "Ten Mile")

[  ] Snare wire

[  ] Fishing hooks, line, sinkers, & artificial bait

[  ] Plastic survival crib-cards

Source: Campmor no. 81328

Tip: These four pocket-sized cards are packed with survival information.


Emergency fire-building gear

[  ] Small folding pocket saw

Source: Campmor no. 22144 (5.5 oz., Sierra Saw)

Tip: A pocket saw can make all the difference in getting a fire going in foul weather. For canoeing and winter-camping, where weight is not so much an issue, the 14-ounce, Sven Folding Camp Saw is hard to beat (Campmor no. 81032).

[  ] Backup waterproof matches & firestarters

Source: see above

Tip: Laid on its side, just below damp twigs and tinder, the candle stub listed in the lighting module below makes an excellent firestarter too.


First-aid kit

[  ] Elastic ankle wrap (with keepers)

[  ] Tweezers

[  ] Scissors (small ones)

[  ] Povidone-iodine wound cleaner

[  ] Triple antibiotic ointment

[  ] Moleskin

[  ] Standard Band-Aids

[  ] Butterfly Band-Aids

[  ] Sterile gauze pads

[  ] Waterproof first-aid tape (small roll)

[  ] Pain reliever (Aspirin, Tylenol)

[  ] Anti-inflammatory (Ibuprofen)

[  ] Decongestant med

[  ] Hydrocortisone crème (for poison ivy)

[  ] Cold & Flu medications

Other handy meds include an antihistamine; anti-diarrhea (Pepto-Bismol tabs); Nausea/motion sickness; laxative; and high-power pain & antibiotic prescripts.

Source: local drug store


Repair kit

[  ] 30 feet of 1/8-inch-diameter nylon cordage

Source: Hardware store

Tip: Important for challenging two-rope, bear bagging situations; equipment repair; rigging extra tent deadmen or high-wind pullouts; splints; emergency snowshoes; lashing a raft together; etc.

[  ] Duct tape

Source: Wal-Mart (Small 1.5-inch-wide by 4.72-yard-long roll of 3M Scotch no. 127 "Cloth or Duct" tape).

Tip: Essential for repairs, blister prevention, splints, etc.

[  ] Sewing kit

Source: Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts, or other sewing shop

Tip: Include extra fabric, buttons, leather thimble, heavy-duty carpet-type thread, heavy-duty needles, light-duty thread, light-duty needles, 4 large safety pins, and cotter pin (for easily rethreading drawcords).



Head & face clothing

[  ] 2 very thin polypro balaclavas

Source: Campmor no. 92872

Tip: Essential for staying warm, preventing hypothermia, while hiking in windy, wet weather. Very thin ones can be worn dry.

[  ] 2 thick fleece or wool hats

Source: Campmor no. 90041, etc.

Tip: Make sure both are sized so they can be worn together in very cold, damp weather, with a balaclava against the skin.

[  ] 2 Bandanas

Source: Campmor no. 00393

Tip: An emergency headnet for bug protection can be made by laying one atop the other and tying each pair of corners together. Wear by sliding head through one side, closing back and top slits, and peering out through remaining slit.

[  ] Sun glasses

[  ] Wide-brimmed sun hat

Source: Sporting goods shop

[  ] Wide-brimmed rain hat (optional)

Source: Campmor no. 00493 (Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero Gore-Tex)

[  ] Clear Safety glasses (optional)

Source: Hardware (safety glasses) or sporting goods store (shooting glasses)

Tip: Essential to protect eyes from sharp sticks when bushwhacking.


Upper-body clothing

[  ] Rain parka

Source: REI no. 10445 (Gore-Tex Stowaway Jacket)

Tip: A long Gore-Tex parka is the best choice; a poncho is generally a poor choice. A parka should have a large hood and be oversized enough so every insulating layer you're carrying can be warn underneath in foul weather.

[  ] 3 thin polypro underwear tops

Source: Patagonia (Lightweight Zip-T Capilene)

Tip: Zip-turtlenecks offer the widest comfort range. Several lightweight layers offer the most options and dry much faster than a single heavier layer.

[  ] Synthetic insulated jacket

Source: MEC no. 4016-644/645 (MEC Northern Light 2 jacket, 3 oz. PrimaLoft)

Tip: While thick fleece or wool garments work just as well, synthetic micro-fiber weigh less for backpacking purposes.

Cool weather note: In cooler spring and fall weather, a second synthetic-insulated layer, possibly hooded, is essential.

[  ] Synthetic insulated vest

Source: MEC no. 4016-648/649 (MEC Northern Light 2 vest, 1.8 oz. PrimaLoft)

[  ] Breathable nylon hot-weather/wind/bug shirt

Source: Campmor no. 13587/64328 (Trekmor Travel Shirt)

Tip: Important in hot, buggy conditions or cool, windy weather. Should be synthetic and oversized so other layers can be layered underneath as needed.



[  ] 1 pair mitten liners

Source: Campmor no. 13598

Tip: Should be fleece or wool. Keep in mind that mittens are much warmer than gloves. In warm weather, an extra pair of socks can double as mittens.

[  ] 1 pair mitten shells (optional)

Tip: Mitten shells are very handy as they can be worn alone or with a combination of liners underneath.


Lower-body clothing

[  ] Rain pants

Source: REI no. 10446 (Gore-Tex Stowaway Rain Pants)

Tip: Should be oversized so all insulating garments can be layered underneath in foul weather.

[  ] Breathable nylon hot-weather/wind/bug pants

Source: Campmor no. 11222/11223 (Trekmor Convertible Pants/Shorts)

Tip: Should be synthetic and oversized so other insulating layers can be warn underneath as needed. An even more versatile alternative is too always wear shorts with survival gear in pockets and carry oversized nylon pants with full-length, fully-separating leg zippers so you can quickly add, ventilate, or remove them as conditions change.

[  ] 1 or 2 pair thin polypro underwear bottoms

Source: Patagonia (Lightweight Capilene)

Tip: if you wear these on the trail, you should carry a second pair.

[  ] 1 pair synthetic insulated inner pants

Source: MEC no. 4010-397/398 (MEC Aurora Pants, 3 oz. Primaloft)

Tip: While fleece or wool work well, they are much heavier that synthetic-insulated pants. Full-length, fully-separating leg zippers are essential for quickly adding, ventilating, or removing this item as conditions change.



[  ] Sturdy, all-leather hiking boots

Source: REI no. 650614 (Vasque Gore-Tex Sundowner MX2 Hiking Boots)

Tip: Should be all-leather, high-top, off-trail hiking boots with lug soles that are broken in, waterproofed, and equipped with new laces. Tough, all-leather, supportive hiking boots are essential for rugged, off-trail hiking in rocky areas with a heavy pack. They can help reduce the chances of a season-ending ankle injury or a career-ending knee injury.

Partial-leather boots are OK if they offer adequate ankle support for heavy loads off trail.

[  ] 3 pairs thick socks

Source: Campmor no. 19654 (Smartwool Expedition Trekking Socks)

[  ] 2 pair polypro liner socks

Source: Campmor no. 19902 (Fox River X-Static liner sock)

[  ] Blister prevention kit

Source: Drug store

Tip: Should include Vaseline, moleskin, and duct tape.

[  ] Gaiters

Source: Campmor no. 00171 (Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low (short) Gaiters)

Tip: Important for keeping boots free of blister-causing debris, mud, water, and snow.

[  ] River fording footwear

Tip: Nike Aqua Socks or Teva sandals work well.

[  ] Sleeping booties (optional)

Source: MEC no. 5006-079 (MEC Hut Booties with Hyperloft Synthetic Insulation)

Tip: Synthetic insulated (not down) booties are essential for sleeping warm in colder weather and keeping feet warm around camp.




[  ] 5,000 to 6,000 CI backpack

Source: Check out the women's Ariel (90) or the men's Aether (90) from Osprey at http://www.ospreypacks.com

Tip: Internal-frame packs are regarded by many to be the optimal pack for cross-country travel.

[  ] Waterproof pack cover

Source: Campmor no. 60858 (Silicone nylon pack cover)

[  ] 2 water-bottle/snack belt pouches

Source: Outdoor Research no. 34500 (Bottle Tote, unisulated); 33410 (Water Bottle Parka, inuslated)

Tip: These are essential for keeping a water bottle and snacks available for on-the-go consumption, thereby preventing dehydration and hypothermia.

[  ] Waterproof plastic bag pack liners

Source: Building supply stores; Wal-Mart

Tip: To keep the contents of your pack dry after an all-day rain or when partially immersed during a stream crossing, line pack compartments with heavy-duty contractor-type plastic bags, which are typically available at building supply stores. Individual stuff sacks should be lined with garbage-compactor-type plastic bags that are available at Wal-Mart where garbage compactors are sold, or .


Land navigation gear

Land navigation team members should see the land navigation page for a list of recommended equipment.


Hydration gear

[  ] Two, one-quart water bottles

Source: Campmor no. 80880 (Nalgene), or one-liter Mountain Dew bottles

[  ] One two-quart water bladder

Source: Campmor no. 12321 (2.4-liter Platypus collapsible water bladder) that weighs only one ounce (Campmor item 12321-D).

[  ] Water purification tablets w/neutralizer tablets

Source: Campmor no. 53038 (Potable Aqua)

[  ] Backup water purification tablets


Insect gear

[  ] One-ounce bottle of 100% DEET

Source: Campmor no. 82160 (Ben's Max 100% DEET)

[  ] Backup one-ounce bottle of 100% DEET

[  ] Head net

Source: Campmor no. 81276 (No-see-um head net)

[  ] Backup head net



Bivouac gear

[  ] Solo tent

Source: REI no. 682-293 (3 LB MSR Zoid 1) or 680-588 (3 LB Sierra Designs Light Year CD)

Tip: A solo tent should weigh 3 pounds or under to keep total pack weight down.

Hard-core alternative: 13-ounce 8' by 10' silicone impregnated nylon tarp (Source: Campmor no. 20069), 100 feet of very thin nylon cordage, and a highly breathable bug bivy (waterproof nylon ground cloth bottom sewn to roomy no-see-um netting at the bottom and along both sides).

[  ] Interior ground cloth

Source: Local building supply store or hardware store

Tip: Unconventional, but effective interior ground cloth always keeps you dry--Simply cut a piece of clear plastic or PVC tarp to the size of the floor, adding six inches all around for a bathtub effect. Conventional, but ineffective exterior ground cloth only keeps you dry while tent floor coating is very knew--Simply cut a piece of clear plastic or PVC tarp to the size of the floor and then trim off 3 or 4 inches on all sides to reduce chance of water getting between ground cloth and tent floor.

[  ] Small dining fly (for tent campers only)

Source: Campmor no. 20255 (4.75' by 7.5' ultralite poncho/shelter made from silicone-impregnated nylon)

Tip: If you're using a tent, the above poncho can be rigged as a shelter during the day or to eat under at night when it is raining. Requires 50 feet of 1/8 inch or thinner cordage for rigging.

[  ] 8 high-quality stakes

Source: REI no. 358173 (9" aluminum CT-Peg) or no. 358182 ( 8" Durapeg I-beam plastic peg)

Tip: Replace nearly useless nail-type stakes that come with most tents with Y-shaped aluminum alloy stakes or I-beam Durapeg plastic stakes.

[  ] Closed-cell foam pad

Source: Campmor no. 41312 (3/8" by 20" by 72")

Tip: Carry a 3/8-inch-thick pad for mild temps; use a 1/2-inch-thick pad for colder temps. Save weight, and leaks, and repair kits by leaving inflatable pads and camp chairs at home.

[  ] Sleeping bag

Source: Campmor no. 48306/48307 or REI no. 667-904/900/899 or 898 (20-degree, 2lb-12oz, Polarguard-Delta insulated North Face Cat's Meow)

Tip: Should have synthetic insulation (not down) with a 20-degree rating. The bag should have enough shoulder girth (width) so you are not cramped when wearing all of your warm layers, including a bulky parka, during cool spring and fall weather (very important). In addition, the bag should be long enough so you can stow your boots in a plastic bag in the foot of the bag to keep them from freezing (sweat accumulation) on cool nights.

[  ] Sleeping bag expander (optional)

Source: Campmor no. 47617 (The North Face Expander Panel)

Tip: If you need extra room in your North Face bag for thick, cold-weather clothing, purchase an Expander Panel from North Face. It is a 9-inch-wide wedge of lightly insulated material which simply zips onto your North Face bag (newer bags only) just as another bag would.


Ration heating gear

[  ] Lightweight solid-fuel stove

Source: Campmor no. 81290 (Esbit Pocket Stove, a foolproof 3.25-ounce German-made standard-issue NATO stove that burns solid fuel tablets (trioxane or hexamine, listed below).

A lighter stove, the 1.3 ounce Wing Stove, is available from http://www.thru-hiker.com.

Tip: Esbit fuel tabs are very reliable and lightweight as compared with the other problem-prone liquid/gas-fuel stoves on the market. It is the hands-down favorite of most participants on my long-range, 3-season trips through remote areas.

[  ] Lightweight solid-fuel tablets

Source: Campmor no. 81292 (12-pack of Esbit hexamine fuel tablets).

Tip: Regulars on my trips should contact me for information on how Esbit fuel tabs can be purchased at a significant discount.

Tip: Carry 4 or 5 tablets per day for standard, boil-and-stop cooking under non-winter conditions. One 1/2-ounce hexamine tablet will boil 1 pint of water under ideal conditions.

[  ] Adjustable flame butane lighter

Source: Wal-Mart, drugstores, gas stations, and supermarkets

Tip: Use a lighter for lighting stoves and candles as discarded matches end up littering campsites and they've also started numerous, disastrous forest fires. An adjustable-flame (very important) lighter works the best. In cold temperatures, keep it warm and operable by duct taping it to a loop of shock cord suspended around your neck.

[  ] Windscreen for stove

Source: Campmor no. 58855 (MSR windscreen)

Tip: The MSR windscreen is an excellent, long-lasting, ultra-lightweight, inexpensive way to get the most heat and efficiency out of your solid fuel stove. Carry extra fuel tablets if you don't carry a windscreen.

[  ] Fireproof base for stove

Source: Hardware or building supply store

Tip: A piece of aluminum, such as an old pot lid, placed on top of a one-inch-thick layer of dirt works well to prevent a ground fire and stabilize Esbit solid fuel stove.

[  ] Aluminum pot holder

Source: Campmor no. 23064

[  ] Aluminum 2-qt cooking pot w/ wire bail & lid

Source: Campmor no. 82008

Tip: A wire bail is handy for open fire cooking as well as attaching a rope to reach otherwise inaccessible water sources (e.g.: overhanging cliffs). A snug lid conserves heat and saves fuel. To keep your rucksack light, avoid heavy stainless steel pots.

[  ] Spoon

Source: Campmor no. 80756 or 80758

Tip: Save weight by using lexan or titanium and avoiding stainless steel. Forks and knifes are unnecessary weight too.

[  ] Cup/mug

Source: Campmor no. 80921 (4.8 ounce 12-ounce-capacity insulated plastic mug)

Tip: Save weight by using plastic or lexan mugs. Some trekkers like a big plastic measuring cup with a handle.

[  ] Garbage bag

Source: Grocery store

Tip: Gallon-size plastic storage bag.

[  ] Food hanging rope

Source: Wal-Mart, hardware stores

Tip: Should be a 50-foot-long piece of 1/8-inch-diameter nylon cordage (slippery polypro rope is even better). The additional 30-foot-long piece of nylon rope in the repair kit module serves as a second food hanging rope in challenging situations where suspension between two trees is necessary.


Lighting gear

[  ] Small LED flashlight

Source: Campmor no. 29650 (LED-type Infinity Task Light by CMG Equipment)

Tip: The is an excellent, ultra-light flashlight which runs for 40 hours on a single AA-size alkaline battery. A lithium battery makes it run much, much longer and lithium is unaffected by cold weather, unlike alkaline batteries.

[  ] Hands-free headstrap for flashlight

Source: Campmor no. 78140 (Jakstrap)

Tip: Very handy.

[  ] Spare bulbs

Tip: necessary for non-LED flashlights only.

[  ] Spare alkaline or lithium batteries

Source: Wal-Mart or Target

Tip: One AA-size alkaline battery should last 40 hours in an LED-type light. A lithium battery reportedly lasts much longer, possibly up to 3 times longer. Always carry at least one spare battery in case of malfunction. Figure on 4 hours of burn time for two AA-size batteries in a conventional, Mini Maglite-type light.

[  ] Candle

Source: Campmor no. 22141 or 80648

Tip: A lightweight, wind-resistant, field-expedient candle lantern can be fashioned by partially filling a one-gallon-size zip-lock bag with sand, mud, or snow and inserting the candle stub.


Personal items

[  ] Personal medications

[  ] Driver's license

[  ] Canadian trips: birth certificate and/or passport

[  ] Emergency phone numbers

[  ] Credit cards

[  ] Cash, travelers checks

[  ] Medical/dental insurance cards

[  ] Sunscreen

[  ] Lipbalm with sunblock

[  ] Wrist chronograph

[  ] Paperback book

[  ] Spare pair of prescription glasses


Hygiene gear

[  ] Toilet paper

Source: Camping section at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

Tip: Carry biodegradable RV-type toilet paper in a plastic bag.

[  ] Synthetic "Pack Towel"

Source: Campmor item 80965

Tip: Save weight by trimming towel to one-foot-square size.

[  ] Small travel-type toothbrush

Source: Wal-Mart

Tip: Look for 2-section travel toothbrush that stores brush end in hollow handle

[  ] Tooth powder

Source: For a list of vendors as well as formulas on how to make your own tooth powder, read the tooth powder page on this Web site.

Tip: Carry 1 tablespoon per week of travel. Unlike conventional toothpaste, tooth powder does not freeze and it requires no water for rinsing or spitting. Works well with just saliva and can be swallowed.

[  ] Toothpicks & dental floss

Source: Wal-Mart

Tip: Stim-u-dent-brand toothpicks work very well.


Vehicle checks

[  ] Extra set car keys

Tip: String on lanyard and give to someone else on trip.

[  ] Registration papers

[  ] Proof of insurance certificate

Tip: In Canada, you must have a "Canadian Nonresident Insurance Card" for your vehicle. Call your insurance agent to get one.

[  ] Locking gas cap

Tip: Make sure you have a spare key.

[  ] Good battery

[  ] Jumper cables

[  ] Tow chain or strap

[  ] 36" Buck saw

[  ] Single-bit ax with 3.5 pound head

[  ] Proper tire pressure

Tip: Check all four tires as well as spare tire.

[  ] Road maps

Tip: Michigan and/or Canadian road map.

[  ] County map book

[  ] Spare tire

Tip: Don't forget to check the pressure in this tire.

[  ] Tire jack and lug nut wrench

[  ] Snow shovel in winter, spade in summer

[  ] Snow scraper and snow brush in winter

[  ] Check wipers

[  ] Check fluids

Tip: Check engine, transmission, and front and rear windshield washers

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In God's wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
— John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890

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