Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day Hiking Kit, v2.0

A while back, I put together a fairly complete day hiking kit. Alas, I think it may have been too complete, as I found it didn't get much use.

After my last backpacking trip, I got to wondering what a more streamlined kit would look like. I figured it should match the following criteria:

  • Reduce redundancy. I'm already carrying a knife, whistle, compass and other goodies, so those items can be left out of the hiking kit. A smaller setup, means I'm more likely to grab it.
  • Build many. I stashed the v1.0 kit in one of our cars. However, having a kit in each car, as well as with other hiking gear, would have made it a lot more likely to grab.
  • Make it useful. I tried to skimp on the unlikely what-if stuff, and focus on the items that are really practical, like bug repellent and TP.

Here's what I've ended up with:

  • Mylar space blanket. I'll probably upgrade this to a heatsheet, rather than the cheap version. Still, at about $1.00 a piece, they are hard to beat from a cost perspective.
  • 55 gallon drum liner. The classic garbage bag - useful for impromptu rain gear, shelter, water collection and 1000 other uses.
  • Reynolds Wrap Oven Bag. Looks and feels like a regular plastic bag, but is durable and heat proof enough to bake in it. I tested one out by pouring boiling water in it, and it held up just fine.
  • (3) Portable Aqua Tablets. Handy when you bring less water on a hike than expected and want to purify some on the fly.
  • Toilet Paper. No further explanation needed.
  • (3) insect repellent wipes. Again, no explanation needed.
  • (3x3') of heavy duty tinfoil. Learn a little origami and you can create a cup. In a very long shot, could be useful for signaling. That, and dozens of other uses.
  • (6x6') of bright pink cord. I've confirmed that this cord and a space blanket can rig up a fine little shelter. I'm convinced that the pre-cut lengths mean that the cord will be put to use faster. I'm also loving the bright pink, which is useful to avoid tripping over it as well as for leaving as breadcrumbs if you get lost.
  • A Bic Mini lighter. Let there be fire!
  • (5") of Gorilla Tape. Useful for repairs and handy in creating the above shelter I mentioned.
  • Pocket lint. The weigh nothing, free, fire starter that works scary well.

As you can see form the above photo, almost all of the items above come naturally in bulk. Which means that creating a 3 or 4 of these kits should be a no-brainer.

The last piece of the puzzle is to find a cheap container to put these in. For the prototype above, I'm using a heavy duty 1 quart Ziploc bag. And it clearly works:

It has room to spare, and the bag itself is useful. Still, I'd like to find something more durable. Perhaps something rigged up out of Tyvek?

Finally, I think this kit is going to work from a "layering perspective." The above kit, with my usual EDC should work well for hikes. If I were to toss in a sleeping bag, pad and some no-cook food, I'd imagine I'd be all set for a night in the woods too.

So there it is, version 2.0. Now, if I can just get out in the woods and put it to use!

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