Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pack Light, Pack Right
I recently posted that REI was offering some lectures inside the store and I decided I needed to check them out. How can I post about them and not attend one, right? Let me tell you, there is value in attending.

REI had plenty of space set up in the back of the warehouse for the lecture. It looked to be enough room for 40 people. Turns out just about every seat was filled. I was there to get some tips for backpack hunting. Not so much for the hunt, but how I might be able to pack lighter and enjoy the trip more.

The first half of the lecture was directed towards the vacationing traveler. Basically it was how to pack your carry-on with just enough so you didn't need to check a bag. It was very informative, but not what I was after.

The halfway point brought out the topic of backpacking, how to pack and what gear to take. This was the nitty gritty info I was there to discover. Now, it was geared toward the ultralight backpacker, but I was able to walk away with some tips for the average bowhunter backpacking in to hunt.

The first tip that caught my attention was just because the pack has room doesn't mean you need to fill it. Simple terms - don't exploit every pocket. Leave some empty, you might need them later. Plus, it'll keep the weight down. When you are hiking to your base camp you don't want to feel the weight of the pack on every step if you can help it.

The gear you HAVE to have:
  1. Backpack - needs to have suspension.
  2. Bow and arrows
  3. Sleeping bag and pad
  4. Ample clothing
  5. Water or location of a water source
  6. Water purification system.
  7. Water storage container(s)
  8. Tent
  9. Stove
  10. Food
  11. First-Aid Kit
  12. Knife
  13. GPS
  14. Bear Vault (or some sort of bear proofing container) 
Now there is more or less you can add, but you get my drift. I adjust my pack for each hunt and I always take a bit too much. One of these times I'd love to pack exactly right!

Some of the other tips I wrote down were great, too.
  1. Your backpack should have suspension. Especially if you plan on packing out some meat!
  2. A down sleeping bag will be the lightest, but pack according to the weather.
  3. Be sure to pack a sleeping bag mat. It'll be comfy, but also keep your body away from the cold ground.
  4. Beware compression bags as you will often pack way too much into your bag using them.
  5. A camp stove should be as light as possible, but able to heat water at different altitudes. I just bought a Jetboil because they get great reviews and I have used one on two occasions. 
  6. Buy a SOLO Bear Vault and keep it at least 100 feet from your tent. I would probably move it even further. Two of the tips with this product is to put a rock on it to make the bears work at it (ooooookay....) and the second was put some bells on it. that way if a bear is trying to rip into it you can move the other way.
  7. Water filtration - what to get. I hear mixed thoughts on this. Most people say to get a filtration unit and pack it because the water will be ready to drink right away and it'll taste great. Other hunters have told me they pack the iodine tablets because they are a lot lighter. The drawback is that you have to wait about 20 minutes before you can drink it and it tastes funky. I guess it all depends on how far you have to hike it and out. You make the call!
  8. A trekking pole for hiking. Get one as it'll give you the support for long hikes. 
  9. Quickclot isn't mentioned nearly enough, but if you ever run into a situation where you need to stop yourself or a hunting buddy from bleeding this will be your best friend. I pray to God I never have to use it.
REI has a great checklist on their site for backpacking, too. You can find the checklist here. Use it as a base and then create your own. On my own checklist I have one tip I will share with everyone. I picked this one up from Les Stroud, the Survivorman himself and I couldn't agree more. If you buy one of those pre-made first-aid kits (which are great by the way) please open it and review the contents BEFORE you go into the back country. That way you can add or remove anything you may want to change, but most important you need to know what each item in there can do.

Happy backpack hunting and good luck. If you have some tips you'd like to share, please comment. I would love to hear and share them. Cheers!

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