Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Packing Up - Part 3

My kitchen

You can get by while hiking without a stove, but it's not something I'd like to do. There's nothing like the morale boost you get from a hot cup of coffee in the morning or a something warm to eat at the end of a long day. And if you're hiking in late fall or early spring being able to make a hot drink might be what's necessary to ward off hypothermia.

My cookset is pretty simple. A 1.5 liter titanium pot, titanium cup and spork, plus an alcohol stove, lighter, pot cozy, and windscreen. An alcohol stove isn't as fast as some of the alternatives, but it's light, indestructible, and the fuel is cheap. The entire system packs up neatly into the pot, so when it's time for dinner I only need to grab it, my fuel bottle, and the food bag.

All packed up!

 First aid

The biggest reason for first aid on the trail? Blisters. Number two? Sore muscles and joints. My first aid kit is pretty limited. I've never had a serious injury (knock on wood), but I'd enough nicks along the way to have a good idea of what to take to handle likely problems.

The entire first aid kit fits in a small ziplock bag.
 For medicines I carry ibuprofen ("Vitamin I" in hiker lingo), some benedryl tablets, and a few blister packs of antibiotic ointment. Also a small tube of hydorcortisone cream and some anti-fungal cream (wet shoes and socks can create big problems pretty quickly). Chapstick not only keeps your lips moist, but it's useful to cover chafing skin too. But the bulk of my first aid kit is moleskin. Even a few wet days can create blisters on your feet , and the best treatment is to slap on a chunk of moleskin and cover it with duct tape (I keep several feet of that wrapped around one of my hiking poles). One final item -- nail clippers. An ingrown toenail is no joke when you're walking 15-20 miles a day.

First aid in the field. Virginia, 2013.


Mother Nature doesn't take a vacation while you're hiking, so you've got to be prepared for the inevitable. Without a doubt mankind's greatest invention has to be the 1-gallon ziplock bag. It keeps that essential supply of TP safe and dry for when you need it. I always throw in small container of hand sanitizer -- it at least creates the illusion that you're actually keeping some part of your body clean, and it's useful for starting fires too. I also keep my water purification chemicals stowed away in my TP bag. That way they're conveniently at hand when I need to treat water.
Don't leave home with out it...

Next time -- odds and ends and putting it all together

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