April 27, 2007

Looking Back…

I wrote the following in October 2005, it was the first entry that truly qualified as a Guerrilla Camping entry, and looking back at it, I still laugh at how much the pack evolved as I threw money at better equipment. This was a rig assembled from thrift stores and e-bay for a couple hundred dollars over a span of a few months. It worked exceptionally to get me out of town, but my current rig is lighter, more balanced and the pack alone cost nearly as much as the entire outfit below.

It’s just a bit of nostalgia.

I promised Guerilla Backpacking 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

Home:
(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

Cooking:
(1)Homemade Can Stove
(1)Thrift Store Aluminum Pot
(1)Coat Hanger Pot Holder
(1)Aluminum Foil Windscreen
(1)Hatchet
(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.)

Ephemera:
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 porcelain filter water filtration pump.
(1)Iodine Tablets
(100 ft) (Now about 30) of 550 cord braided with a grommeted dispenser
(1)3qt 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.

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