jupiterhikes goes ultralight but I think he hates the term. He seems to be as prepared as anyone needs to be. And then there is the one that carries everything including the kitchen sink. Of course it all comes down to having exactly what you need, no more and no less. But that can be a challenge.
Sadly I found these three gallon ziplock bags with what what I considered essential gear. It’s not like these bags served any particular purpose and they were not universal it was a bag of stuff that I needed at one time or another. I think it’s important that the items are easy to acquire because you probably cannot get on a plane or Greyhound with them and so any Walmart should be ok and you should be able to discard them safely.
What do I really need.
- shoe repair or a second pair of shoes. I was 5 miles into Big Cypress and lost the sole of my boots. We could not repair them with string, aluminum wire or duct tape.
- foot repair. I recall the littlest blister almost taking me out in NYC.
- light. During a full moon and clear sky you can see a lot more than you expect but on those dark nights you better have a light and a backup with spare batteries.
- fire. I do not know how I feel about fire. Even on the rainiest night you can wrap yourself in something waterproof in your kit. If hard pressed and with a little skill and time you can make a friction fire but the reality is a lighter and/or fero rod makes more sense. I’d say lighter because it’s less heavy than a fero rod, cheaper, and more available. Of course you can always accidentally drain the fuel and there are temp limitations where the fero rod has it’s limits too. A combo kit with tinder works… but if this is an essential kit it’s not the kind of thing you’d bring to a league game.
- toilet paper, wipes, glide, and sanitizer. This falls into the category of just feeling better. One time I put on a new shirt and even though it was just a few hours my nipples were chaffed. Another time when I was heavier my thighs rubbed and chaffed. And then there was my pooper. I prefer the fresh clean feeling.
- med combo like tylenol and advil are great. tums and immodium are important.
- Just one tube of lipbalm or neosporin is enough.
- if you are some place where water is not available or you are willing to carry enough then leave the filter at home. Else go mechanical and or a metal cup.
- checklist. It’s a great idea to have a checklist so that replenishing is easy.
What I did not need…
- matches - I have enough fire sources
- waterproof TP box - ziplock is good enough
- tinder for more than 2 fires. You can always make more or use the TP and where the hell are you going anyway?
- batteries - well I just said that I needed two flashlights and if you had fresh batteries when you started then extra is just not necessary. I do like those CR2036 LED rope lights for camp. The batteries typically last 72 hours. More importantly it sets the mood and acts as a beacon. But it’s not essential.
- I have plenty of duplicate items so keep it simple
- I’m not sure how I feel about those mini-tubes from gossamer gear. Small tubes are about the same price as the fullsize but if you’re ounce counting or wanting to keep things fresh it might not matter.
- water purification - a mechanical filter is best with a prefilter but in a pinch just drink it and get to safety.
In the middle of the road is a different class of problem…
- I do not know if I need a “knife”. For many years I went without but then recently I added one with a fero rod in the holder for fun. It was razor sharp and when confronted with a snake that would not be relocated I had to err on the side of safety of the children. I also used that knife to start the bonfire. It was fun but a lighter would have done the trick. I do have a knife in my medkit.
Keep it simple.