How I pack by backpack. Every single time.

I’m taking a short break to the series to give some more details. I had an earlier post about packing my backpack and thought it needed a more in-depth entry. I will start with my backpack fully loaded and unpack it and show how and where everything goes. I’ll start with a picture of my Ohm 2.0 ULA front and back.

The first items will be things attached to my backpack. As you can see from the previous picture, my Garmin eTrex Venture HC (the yellow device) is attached to the top for the best reception. I generally don’t use it for navigation and if I need to mark something, it is easy to access. The lanyard on my GPS is looped around the cord that tightens the top so the GPS device won’t unexpectedly fall off. The next item is my SPOT GPS Messenger. This is a device that also drops a track at a predetermined interval (I think I have it set at every 10 minutes) and I can send predetermined messages to selected individuals to let them know I’m OK. It will send messages by email, text, or both to up to a total of 20 messages by pushing a button. I have this on my right shoulder strap so I can ensure it’s working by glancing down and seeing the blinking lights. I have it programmed to send messages to my wife and mom which gives them the warm fuzzy when I’m hiking where there is no cell signal. I use a clip on knife which is attached to my backpack when hiking and a belt loop when in camp. As I stated earlier, a small knife to open food packets is really all most people need. My headlamp is attached to the side of my pack and restrained by the cords on my pack. This keeps it from swinging (one of my pet peeves) but handy should I need it. The last item is a bandana I keep on my left shoulder strap. It is mostly used to wipe sweat out of my eyes, but I also use it to insulate my hands when picking up my hot container from my stove. The bandana can also be used for a multitude of other things.

Now I’ll address my hip belt pockets. My backpack has a small pocket on both sides of my hip belt that I use. Often snacks go in here or the cargo pocket of my pants. I have my camera with a StickPic already attached. The camera is an Olympus TG-1. It is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. This is important since it can get wet if it is raining, which often it is. The StickPic allows me to slip my camera over the end of my trekking poles for selfies if I so desire. I don’t desire that often. I have a tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm year round. Chapped lips in the woods is not fun and I find myself using it often. The last item that is always in my hip belt is my compass. I do use it often. The lanyard on my compass is also looped around a strap so I don’t lose it, either.

The Ohm 2.0 backpack has two large deep pockets on either side of the pack. I can reach these while I’m wearing the backpack. In the right pocket is a water bottle and the fuel for my stove. I use an alcohol stove so I use denatured alcohol. The container is…..different. One of my backpacking buddies works in a surgical unit. That metal container originally contained ether. I like that it’s aluminum because it is on the outside of my pack I don’t want to use a plastic container that can be cracked or crushed (and leak out all my fuel). The container is aluminum so it doesn’t weigh that much. I also store it in a Ziploc bag so if it does leak a bit, it won’t get all over my gear. You can’t tell in the picture, but on the top of the metal container is one of the small plastic measuring cups that come with many cold medicine bottles. I use this to measure out (ration) my fuel.

The left side pocket on my pack contains another water bottle and my water filtration system stored in a cuben fiber pouch. My water filtration system consists of a CNOC collection bag, a Sawyer mini filter, a section of tubing with an attachment to fit on the collection bag, the backflush syringe, and one of the Sawyer 32 oz. bags. I rarely use this spare bag, but I have it just in case something happens and I need extra water or if my main bag fails. I also have a short piece of cord that I can use to hang up the water collection bag at camp and use the system as a gravity fed system which gives me water on command. I learned the hard way that when doing this sometimes the tubing will fall below the filter and all your water drains out of the bag. To stop this, I do have a clamp on my tube where I can “turn off” the water at camp. I have a separate post about my water filtration system on my blog. The only difference between that post and now is the addition of the CNOC collection bag. I REALLY like this bag. The orange section at the top comes off and the end of the bag opens up to easily fill with water. This does away with the need to have a scoop or funnel to fill the bag as I did previously.

The ULA Ohm 2.0 backpack also has a large elastic pocket on the back of the backpack. The back pocket contains my map (not pictured), a Therm-a-Rest sit pad, my Luci solar light I use at camp to light up my hammock area, “poop kit” which is wipes and hand sanitizer, and my tent stakes in a Ziploc bag. I may store other items here depending on the conditions.

The Ohm 2.0 has a small mesh zippered pocket on the inside where I stash a few items. One of those item is my battery backup with cord. This one was gifted to me by my father-in-law and can be recharged either by solar power but can also be plugged in. This device is slightly more rugged and has a larger capacity than my other battery backup so it goes in the woods with me. I store it in a Ziploc bag with the cord that attaches to my phone. Not pictured are the cord and plug were I can plug it in to recharge. When I was packing for this trip, that wasn’t an option so I didn’t include it.

Also located in the zippered pocket is my first aid kit, a few fire starter, a spare set of batteries for my GPS, and a pack hanger from Dutchwaregear. My first aid kit has a few basic supplies including Pepto Bismol tablets, an assortment of band aids, some aspirin in a container, a few gauze pads, a spare mini Bic lighter, and a tick key, whistle, push button light, and the smallest Swiss army knife I’ve ever seen.

The location of the next few items really depends on the weather, but for this particular trip on the inside of my pack on the very top was weather protection. I have my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket. It’s a synthetic filled jacket so it isn’t sensitive to moisture the way down jackets are. I also have Frogg Toggs rain pants although I rarely use them, and a GoLite Rain jacket. I really like this rain jacket. It can double as a wind breaker. The jacket has a hood, pockets, armpit zippers, and will contain itself in one of the pockets. Sadly, this company is no longer in business, so I’ll have to look for a replacement in the future.

Just under (or maybe on top) of my weather protection is the rest of the current day’s food. I’ll probably post a separate entry discussing my detailed food plan. In this case, my snacks are contained so I can easily reach them at lunch or mealtime.

When I get to camp – especially if it is raining – one of the first things I want to set up is my tarp. In this case, I have my Warbonnet Superfly in a cuben fiber bishop bag and in MountainGoat mesh tarp storage sleeves. IF it’s raining, this may be on the very top as I want to get of the rain as soon as possible. I do have a separate blog entry about my tarp if you are interested in the details.

Beside my tarp is my cook system. I do have a separate post about my cook system. It has changed slightly since then. My cook system contains a Fancee Feast stove Zelph Stoves. You can easily make your own version of this stove, but I purchased the stove and the lid for my Imusa mug from Zelph. Also included is a fire striker to light the stove (and a secondary fire starter), a homemade cozy for my coffee mug, a coffee mug I made from a Fosters beer can, a windscreen, another cozy made for my main cookpot, my Imusa mug cookpot, a long handled titanium spoon, and all of that is contained in a cuben fiber bag.

My remaining food for the trip (along with a few other items) I keep stored in my Ursack. Where I spend most of my time, bears are not an issue and I really only need protection from rodents and the Ursack works for me. I also include my personal hygiene items in my Ursack. For personal hygiene, I carry a travel toothbrush, some toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, a small container of natural soap, and a small travel washcloth.

Under all of these items, I have the remaining items stored in a trash compactor bag. These are the items I need to keep dry. Everything on top of the trash compactor bag can get wet or is already protected from water by either the original packaging or in Ziploc bags. The first item (on top) inside the trash compactor bag is my hammock. I use the Dutch Halfwit hammock from Dutchwaregear. Under my hammock are my quilts. These will vary depending on the conditions, but in this case I have a Hammock Gear Incubator under quilt that is rated to 20 degrees. I stuff it in the trash compactor bag without storing it in another bag. In the large bag is my top quilt. In this case, I have a top quilt made from a down quilt from Costco, but I also have a Hammock Gear Burrow top quilt rated to 20 degrees. I do this so I can tell them apart and often when I set up the hammock, I just throw my top quilt in my hammock in the beginning and fluff after camp is made. The small bag contains an under quilt protector from 2QZQ. This goes over my under quilt to protect from rain and wind. This is optional depending on the weather.

One of the last things I’ll need at camp are spare/sleep clothes. These are stored at the very bottom of my trash compactor bag and at the bottom of my backpack. My clothes are stored in another cuben fiber bag. The only spare clothes I take (once again depending on the weather) are a pair of shorts and T shirt to sleep in, a spare set of Darn Tough socks, a change of underwear, and possibly a fleece or wool toboggan, a thin wool base layer, and a set of gloves. I only use my sleep clothes to sleep in after cleaning up a bit after reaching camp and eating if I didn’t eat earlier on the trail.

Here is a picture of the trash compactor bag I use. I have used it for several years, but have a couple of spares should this one develop a hole.

I did replace the thin foam back cushion in the backpack with a piece of closed foam padding. This was originally a cheap sleep pad. I took out the original piece and traced it on the foam then cut it out. This gives me more cushion from my pack and I can also use it around camp for insulation or cushion when lounging around camp.

That’s it. That’s all I take. The only thing that really changes are my quilts depending on the temperature, and the amount of food I take depending on how many days I plan on being in the woods. Now, how much does all of that weigh? I’m glad you asked. This particular load was for a 5 day trip with partial days both the first and last days. Total weight including food and water is just over 25 pounds. Of course, this weight will decrease as I hike and eat as I’m carrying all my food for the whole trip.

I pack almost exactly the same way for every trip. Depending on the weather, I may add or remove a few items, but things are generally in the same place every time. This helps me when I’m looking for or needing an item, I don’t have to empty the entire backpack.

About jnunniv

I like outdoor activities including hiking, camping, and scuba diving.
This entry was posted in Backpacking, Beginner Series, Hammock Camping, Helpful information, Hiking. Bookmark the permalink.

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