Fellow adventurers, please know that this is written for the person just starting out camping and/or hiking. For those of you already bitten by the backwoods bug, it will be assumed that you are well armed with your moleskin and wag bag and in no need of further direction.

For newbie backpackers, first I would suggest reading WILD: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. You’ll cry a little and laugh a whole lot, and you will have a glimpse into  some of backpacking’s “dos and don’ts”. The photo above was a glorious “do” moment that happens all too infrequently. My guy was victorious over his pack-rat girlfriend (and gloating according to the picture) when he loaded exactly enough water, one bottle of wine, and cheese and crackers, and comfortably hiked to Utah’s Delicate Arch for sunset. Pack-rat girlfriend grieved the lack of the single burner stove and Bananas Foster but, head held high, stoically carried the camera.

The balance between creature comforts and streamlining is still a work in progress for this John Muir wannabe, and as a result, a huge part of the journey is the quest for the ever elusive perfectly and lightly loaded pack. One can dream.

So adjust your equipment requirements according to what makes you happy, but beware of over buying and going too big/heavy. The photo below was a trek up Whitney without my guy’s influence which translated into a mat purchased at a flea market for $15. It was bulky and wildly uncomfortable and the sleeping bag was substandard as well, sometimes you get what you pay for.


Life Is In Session