Back Packing: What to Carry

Most Maine Conservation Corps members have to go backpacking during some part of their term of service. Field crews often hike out to both campsites and work sites with packs filled with equipment. Today, I am going to go over what you should bring with you when backpacking in the Maine Wilderness.

If you are just hiking for the day, you won’t need to carry out nearly as much stuff as an MCC member with camping gear and trail working tools. However, there are a few essentials that MCC members and the average hiker have in common.

#1 – The Backpack

Definitely not the same kind of backpack you would use to carry your books to school. These packs have padded waist straps, padded shoulder straps, plenty of pouches and are designed to carry a lot more than just homework. A good back-country backpack should have enough space for clothes, water, food, and all of the rest of the gear I will be describing today.

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#2 – Wet Weather Gear

If you are outdoors and it starts to rain unexpectedly you are going to want to have some wet weather clothes to put over your hiking clothes. MCC members often choose to get wet weather gear that is fairly heavy. Rubber coated canvas materials are less prone to tearing during outdoor construction work.

However, most choose to get lighter and cheaper rain gear. This would be most appropriate for the average hiker.

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#3 – Dry bag and clothes

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Dry bags keep clothes dry in wet conditions. Can be packed right into backpack.

If you get wet, wouldn’t it be really nice to have some dry clothes to change into? Even just an extra couple of pairs of dry socks would be a wonderful relief at the end of a long day of hiking. Dry bags provide a water tight space to stick your clothes into when you’re traveling. If you get rained on, or happen to fall into a river your clothes will be sheltered and dry.
Although you can buy dry bags in sporting goods stores, a tightly closed trash bag will also do.

You should also pack other clothes for sudden changes in the weather, it may seem strange to carry warm wool clothes during the summer, but it is better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it.

#4 –  Sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellent

Just like a day on the beach or when you are mowing your lawn or spending a day at the beach a bad sunburn or a swarm of biting insects can ruin a good time. Here in Maine, DEET based products are recommended for guarding against Lyme Disease.

#5 – Litter Bag

Trash on the trail ruins nature’s aesthetic and can be a health hazard to people and wildlife. Be prepared to carry out anything you might carry in.

# 6 – Flashlight, matches, whistle, pocket knife.

These little items could come in handy during an emergency. A good backpacker should always be prepared for the unexpected.

20150831_130723#7 – Water and Food

You should pack enough high energy food to get you through the day, and then some. Granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, and pb&j sandwiches, are all trail essentials. Pack 3 quarts of water per person.

#8 – Map and compass

Getting lost is always a possibility. It is a good idea to pack a map and compass to try and navigate your way home if you really need to.

#9 – First Aid Kit

Once again, the threat of an unexpected emergency should always inspire preparedness. A first aid kit can mean relief from minor discomforts like cuts and bruises, but it could also save your life!

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