October 17, 2005

Guerrilla Camping 101.1 – The Blackpack

The Blackpack – Guerrilla Camping 101.1

Draft originally posted at The Guerrilla News Network. Included here with GNN commentary courtesy of the GNN Archive.

I promised Guerrilla Camping 101. Here is my first blog to that effect. Below is a semi-complete pack list I wrote up this weekend while I was out in the woods.
I have spoken to a number of long distance hikers who consider my pack immature, meaning I haven’t spent the time nor money paring my pack down a laughable 20lbs. If the ribbing gets too much, I simply challenge them to a race. “You carry that 20lbs maybe 4-8 weeks a year. I carry my 45lbs 52 weeks a year.” Yes, I can run five or six miles straight with this thing on. That always shuts them up.
As a caveat emptor, this pack is something I have been carrying and evolving for 9 years now. If you go out and buy or make all this stuff, throw it in a pack and expect to be happy as you bounce along the trail; think again. Start minimally during the late spring and summer, and gradually add gear and weight to your pack. During the summer, I have gone out with a blanket, a boat tarp, a bag of fruit and a pocket knife and had a great time.

May I present The Blackpack


(1)15 Degree Rated Synthetic Fill Sleeping Bag
(1)Thermarest Matress Pad (Sleeping on really cold ground CAN kill you and it makes the hammock sleep flatter)
(1)Silk Sleeping Bag Liner (This was expensive, but lets me sleep comfortably even in the snow, even with my 15 degree bag)
(1)Guatemalan Jungle Hammock. (Good enough for Che, good enough for me)
(2) US Army camouflage Ponchos (tents, hammock cocoons, snow cave roofs, bivy sacks, River Rafts (I’m not joking) these things do it all.)
(12) tent stakes (3 inch long aluminum gutter nails)
(12) 1 foot lengths of 550lb parachute cord.
(2 each) 12, 25, 50 foot lengths of parachute cord

(1)Homemade Can Stove
(1)Thrift Store Aluminum Pot
(1)Coat Hanger Pot Holder
(1)Aluminum Foil Windscreen
(1)Butane lighter
(1)Flint and Steel Striker (You’ll run out of matches in a month)
(1)240z metal energy drink bottle filled with denatured alcohol

The Food Bag: (canvas laundry bag with steel sack trash bag liner and 50 feet of nylon cord for hanging away from the coons)
Usually, 1lb of rye, whole wheat, or a blend of flours
1-2lbs of corn pasta (Way more filling)
.5lb instant rice
2oz plastic bottles of Salt, Pepper, Garlic and Baking Soda
4oz plastic bottles of Chicken Bullion, Mustard and Oregano
8oz plastic bottle of olive oil
2 yards 300tc silk screen with plastic grommets to use for drying food or making bread
(In addition to this, I often carry things like bollion cubes, couscous, etc. The stuff listed above is just my core stuff I always keep packed.)

The Clothing

(1) used adidas (All Day I Distress About Socialists) polyester sport shirt. (You can wash it out in cold water and it dries in minutes, I love this shirt)
(1) pairs light brown khaki cargo pants (Denim is way to heavy to lug around)
(1) T-Shirt from a band I used to be in.
(1) pair of cutoff shorts.
(1) set polypro long johns.
(1) pair wool socks
(1) pair of women’s knee high nylons (If you need to cover 30 miles in a day, these can keep you from getting blisters doing it, wear them inside your wool socks and wrap the top around the outside of the sock and boot to hold it in place.)
(1) set army surplus gortex park and shell pants (Rain and show gear)
(1) pair of lightweight mountaineering boots (Fuck combat boots or jungle boots)

The Electronics

(4) 1”x4” solar panels attached to a 6”x6” piece of canvas, wired to a multi-adapter with a 4AA/AAA charger.
(6) NiMH rechargeable Batteries (4aaa, 2aa)
(1) Sony Sports MP3 Minidisc Recorder (sorry, I hate branding, but 7 hours of recording per disc, runs off 1aa battery and I dropped it off a cliff. And mini discs don’t scratch)
(1) really small watch battery condenser mic.
(1) aaa powered headlamp/flashlight.
(I want to get a digital camera, but can’t decide if I want the extra batteries, or if I want a real film camera.)
1 oz backpackers first aid kit w/ added suture kit and space blanket.
(1)Firestarting kit: Flint and Steel, Matches, 4 Birthday Candles.
(1)Leatherman Multitool

(1)MSR Mini Works water filtration pump.
(1)Iodine Tablets
(100 ft) (Now about 30) of 550 cord braided with a grommeted dispenser
(1)3l hydration bladder
(2) lexan plastic water bottles
About 50 yards of duct tape, wrapped around every bottle I carry.
(1) small spool of fishing line and a few hooks and sinkers.
(1) Small Spool of Black Thread and 2 needles.
(1 each)Lexan Plastic Fork and Spoon (Hard as metal, lighter than paper)
Notebook, pen, pencil.
Local Map and Compass if possible.
(1) bar of soap and a small hand towel.
(1) A little travel thing of deodorant.
The Wallet and Passport:
Keep $40, an ATM card, a Drivers License, a library card and a passport. If you have the chance, get business cards made that allow you to show a means of support. I spent nearly a week in jail on vagrancy charges while walking through Texas, and since then, while I have been stopped many times, a reasonable cover story that I’m simply a businessman taking a vacation to walk someplace has kept me out of the poke. And no matter how bad the mosquitoes may be out there, the bailiff is probably a lot more annoying.
The Moving Box:
If I’m moving from one city to another or living without a door to lock my stuff for any period of time, I also have a plastic tool chest I strap to the bottom of my bag to carry my laptop and a few precious don’t-breakables. Generally, rather than taking all my stuff with me when I move I set aside 40 dollars to buy new city clothes, sheets and toiletries from thrift stores when I get there, but I do have a few favorite shirts that I keep. My Moving Pack is probably closer to 65 lbs but the extra stuff can be mailed if need be.

4 years ago


ur hard core brother
4 years ago


a rhetorical question: what do we do when the stores all close their doors?
4 years ago


SS – Salvage if you’re white, loot if you’re black.
…I know you said rhetorical, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
4 years ago


Oh wait, I had a relevent comment, too.
Blackpacker – When you say a Thermarest mattress pad, are you recommending the inflatable or one of the eggshell-solid foam ones? I’m partial to the foam, since the r-value is still pretty decent and if you puncture your inflatable, you’re in for a cold night. That said, the foam takes more space.
Nice tip on the nylons. I’ve never heard/thought of that.
I’m looking forward to the next installment of this.
4 years ago


Excellent stuff – thanks. We recently went over some of the same ideas in a blog I wrote called Preparing for the worst – hagcel’s contributions came to mind when reading this.
4 years ago


Wow, went back and read those blogs again after reading this. Looks like there are alot of us living outdoors.
Blackpacker, you and I have pretty similar gear lists. But those gortex parkas are great, eh?
I gave up on thermarests all together. The way I sleep, (Arms crossed underneath me, lying on my stomach) I’m able to sleep on pretty uneven ground, so the thermarest seemed to be a waste. I’m probably going to get a foam pad and cut in half and double it for wintering this year. Doing a 4 day loop of 36 miles next week, I can’t wait.
I posted my packlist in Sisyphus’ blog. You should check it out. If you’re blackpack, I guess I’m green sack, but don’t tell my stoner friends.
4 years ago


Hot damn- I guess I’m not the only one to realize that the Mayans had it right- the hammock is the gift of the gods. Unless I’m contemplating a lot of time in snow, or am not camping in an area with lots of trees, the hammock is the way to go. Lighter than a tent (provided you’re packing the Yucatan-style net hammock), more comfortable, gets you off the cold ground, better ventilation, and no problem in weather as long as you can string up a tarp or cocoon around you. I’ve been known to combine a bivy sack with a hammock, too. Awesome packing list you have there, very well thought out.
4 years ago


Another thing- can’t help but admire your pared-down existence. Belongings, as much as some of them mean to me, are a hindrance and a needless attachment.
4 years ago


You forgot Moleskin.
4 years ago


So what do you do for money packman?
Im thinking of doing the exact same thing come next summer.. but I’m a bit scared of a. travelling through the states and 2. being alone…
Ive been reading about dumpster diving and such, Im an old hand to shoplifting, thats no prob.
South America… hmmm.. Im not too sure how they would recieve a homeless anarchist packer… but then. Fuck, Ive never been…
4 years ago


Forget Dumpster diving you can take the Food right off the self by searching for
the outdates. You can usally fill an entire cart a week. Managers are understaffed
and they can use your help.
They hate to record the loses but Capitolism is a failure
and products just Rot. Most of it goes to the trash. But some goes to the Soup Kitchens.
Just demand a Manager and teach them how embaressing it would be when the board of health was
called to appear here and see this in a Shopping cart.
Some stores have policies you get it for free.

Post Modified: 10/18/05 09:09:13
4 years ago


Just walk around the store eating what you want and dumping the wrappers. I do it at least twice a week at different stores for lunch.
4 years ago


“dumping the wrappers”? what do you mean? Just hiding them after you are finished? Ive done that, but wandering a supermarket is no way to enjoy a meal…
4 years ago


For money, I work. I may be a homeless radical, but I stay neat and clean. After your seventh of eigth cafe job, you can usually get one just by explaining your situation, and inmpressing them with your prior knowledge of their POP (Point of Purchase system) I’ve also done Construction, Retail, Bar work, and even on three or four ocassions settled down with the migrant workers on popular street corners. The longest job I’ve held since the military was a tutoring job, which I held for a year after I finished college.
I use one of the inflatable thermarests. They fold flatter and leave more room in the pack, and since an army ruck sack is about a foot shorter than most modern hiking packs, looking at that eggshell one, it seems as if it would poke out of the top of my pack. Also the lighest inflatable t-rest is about 5ounces lighter, but like I mentioned, I’m not a feather weight.
The moleskin is in the first aid kit. I almost never use it anymore. (In fact, I just got up to check to see if it was still sticky, I think the three pads of it I have now are 3 years old.) I have leather feet by now.
I DO NOT Shoplift, no matter what. It’s a quick way to wind up with those vagrancy charges and getting stuck in a town doing community service. I don’t look down on it, by a longshot, but for me it’s a matter of being practical. It’s easier for me to work and buy my food than it is for me to steal my food and risk working for “free”. Or is that working for freedom?
Hammocks are incredibly light, true, but I never consider “off the cold ground” much of a benefit. If it’s cold enough to use that reason, I’ll probably prop the hammock low, and put the ponchos up as a tent around it. Having nothing but a matress pad and wind under your ass is not warmer than on the cold ground in a tent.
Neverknwo, can you name a store chain with that policy? That I could definately get into.
Belongings are usually needless. But I will admit to a tool habit. My grandmother’s garage has two high shelves I put up which store my “ridiculous” tools. Circular Saw, Hand Drill, Chainsaw, grinder, vices, etc. Eventually I will buy land and have those shipped to me. I pick them up used, usually for 10% or less of the price new. But until I have my own land they are boat anchors.
Hagcel, Yes that parkas are great, butnot if you have to pay the 1-200 bucks they want for them new. I’ve bought two of the parkas now, because the first one I had had been used up, and all the loft was gone from the filling. Great raincoat, but didn’t do much to keep me warm. I would say the only two pieces of surplus I actually love are the Ponchos and the pack, but I had to get mine in black. 😉
4 years ago


4 years ago


Forget Dumpster diving you can take the Food right off the self by searching for the outdates. You can usally fill an entire cart a week.
that’s a new one on me – but I like where it’s going

Post Modified: 10/18/05 14:05:04
4 years ago


Guerrillero BlackPacker.
Que chevere.
4 years ago


Knwo, How did I guess that it would be Krogers. I gotta get back down south again.
4 years ago


You dont even have to camp if you dont want to. I¨m in Boquete, Panama and its the rainy season. Funny thing is the “Ex-Pats” dont like the rain so they go back to the states. I´m housesitting. It doesnt pay anything, but they leave the power & water on and I have a bed to sleep in. (I actually sleep on my camp mat on the floor).
But I understand this post. Next week or so its into the jungle with my hammock. In the national forest so no one around for kilometres.
4 years ago


dude, this shit is fucking serious.
4 years ago


As far as getting money goes, panhandling is a time honored tradition once known as begging alms. Here is the ultimate panhandling method for people traveling with a backpack: As you approach a young to middle-aged adult male (alone or with a female friend) ask, “Pardon me sir, may I speak to you for a minute?” People that say, “No.” at this point are a waste of time anyway. To those that hesitate or say “yes” you continue,” My friend and I are traveling from (Point A) to (Point B) and we are trying to get together something to eat. We were wondering if you could help us out with anything under a quarter.” If you are traveling alone pretend you have a friend and point off in the distance when you say friend. The importance of this cannot be over stressed. You must appear that you are NOT a loner. The rest is simple. The “traveling from NY to California” or whatever, makes it appear you are going somewhere in life and are, perhaps, just “hung up” a little not just “hanging out” a lot. The “trying to get together something to eat” shows a REAL need and the “help us out with something under a quarter.” Shows you are humble, a bit embarrassed and trying not to hassle people too much. Asking adult males keeps you from scaring women, however, times have changed. Asking men walking with women allows them to show their generous nature. This too is a dated, sexist construct.
I learned this method in 1972 from two guys I picked up hitchhiking in Canada that could ask these questions in seven languages. They taught me the psychology of panhandling and would scoff at those that asked for “spare change”. They had traveled and were traveling the world. They suggested that you set an amount as a goal each time you went out only panhandle to that set amount. They called themselves the “righteous pandhandlers”. They felt they provided a social service in letting others feel good for having helped stranded travelers. In fact, they were just very good at faking sincerity. They would sometimes use nearly empty packs as props. They would often panhandle enough for an “all you can eat” type place and would go prepared with plenty of plastic sacks for “to go” orders. They would also get a bottle of Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Canadian Club Whiskey. We would pass them, each taking two swigs from each, first the C.C. then the C.D., repeat and pass. After the three of us finished a fifth we would go harass the “spare change” guys. Tell them they were giving us “righteous panhandlers” a bad name. What an idiot I could be when I was young. Hell, I haven’t lost it yet…I can still be an idiot with the best (and youngest) of them.
BTW a similar pitch is useful for raising funds for NGO’s: Pardon me may I speak to you for a minute? My friends and I are on a little blue planet traveling around the sun. We are trying to get together something to eat for the children and we were wondering if you could help us out with anything under say… a billion dollars.
I will leave you with a quote from Kahil Gibran who said: “Work is love made visible. If we may not work with love then it is better that we sit at the door of the temple and beg alms from those that may.” He also said, “Money is like love; it kills slowly and painfully the one who withholds it, and enlivens the other who turns it on his fellow man.”


  • Daniel, February 17, 2015 Reply

    I was glad to see you use adidas sunblocking shirt. I use the same one while going on fishing/backpacking trips. You can was it in a creek in a minute, and it dries in 5. A very good shirt for backpackers.

    • Admin, July 23, 2016 Reply

      I loved that shirt. I accidentally dissolved it hauling concrete for a rockwall. That was disappointing, but it lasted longer than my 4 month old carhart jacket that had the same treatment. (Work tip: The lime in concrete can eat your clothes.)

Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply