Backpacking and Hiking Equipment
“Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife.” This carefree tune was sung by Baloo in Walt Disney's animated feature, “The Jungle Book”, as he taught Mowgli about life in the jungle. A trek in the great outdoors can be just as carefree if you remember the “bare necessities” of backpacking and hiking equipment.
Gear vs. Equipment. What's the difference?
Gear is defined as being the essentials, the bones if you will of backpacking. This includes your backpack, tent, sleeping bag, stove, and other items necessary for a successful hiking trip.
Backpacking and hiking equipment can be defined as the items and tools necessary to maintain your gear's working order. These items could include a multi-tool, such as a Leatherman, pliers, extra pins for backpack repair, and duct tape.
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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Below are some common gear failures that could arise along with the solution for returning your gear to a serviceable condition using your backpacking and hiking equipment:
- A Rip or Tear in Backpack: It is always a good idea to include an emergency backpack repair kit on your list of backpacking and hiking equipment items to pack. This kit can be a prepackaged, store bought, repair kit or could be as simple as dental floss and a heavy needle, or even a fish hook. To fix a rip or tear simply thread your needle or hook and stitch the rip or tear closed.
To prevent further damage be sure to provide extra support to the repaired area by placing a barrier over the hole on the inside of the pack when repacking. This is as simple as placing a square of your closed cell foam sleeping pad or even something rigid like your dinner plate or bowl over the stitched area during the packing process. Be sure and properly repair your gear once you arrive home.
**As a side note, should you choose to include a fishing hook instead of a needle in your repair kit it makes this piece of backpacking and hiking equipment multi-functional. You can use the dental floss and hook to catch fish if needed.**
- Tent Pole Shock Cord Breaks: The best way to fix a tent pole shock cord is to have an extra length of elastic cording as part of your essential backpacking and hiking equipment. This can be purchased at your local outdoor store and makes a field repair as simple as replacing the broken shock cord. In a pinch, most tent poles can be used without the elastic cording. An extra set of hands might be required to get tent erected, but once securely staked down, the absence of the elastic cord won't be missed.
- Broken Tent Pole: At the risk of sounding like a Boy Scout, “Be Prepared!” Add a few tent pole repair sleeves to your backpacking and hiking equipment repair kit. These handy sleeves are made of lightweight aluminum and are available from you local outdoor store. Repairing a broken tent pole is then a simple matter of sliding the repair sleeve onto each end of the broken pole and gluing or duct taping the sleeve in place.
Aluminum poles often bend instead of breaking, so a bit of straightening will likely suffice until you get home. Short of that, a stretch of nylon cording and some creative use of nearby trees to tie your tent to can get a shelter over your head until you can get home to purchase replacements.
- Boot Sole Blow-Out: This is probably the simplest fix of all. As a savvy hiker, duct tape is most certainly already part of your backpacking and hiking equipment. Simply wrap duct tape all the way around the sole of your boot and up over the top, overlapping the ends...keep on trekking.
- Broken Boot Laces: There are several simple fixes for this problem: (1) Tie the ends back together. (2) Use a bit of your nylon cord. (3) Wrap the lace with duct tape tightly wound around the original lace to lengthen.
- Cook Stove: Most newer models are becoming field repair friendly. There are too many models available to discuss detailed repairs of each here so I'll touch on the basics.
As a general rule jets can often be cleaned out with the point of your knife, some stove models have self cleaning jets you simply turn the stove upside down and shake gently back and forth; other models are not equipped with this feature.
It is important, as always, to get to know your stove before you leave for your hike. Your first night on the trail is NOT the place to light your stove for the first time. Nor is it the place to attempt to discover how to repair it. Preparation is the key..know your stove before you leave.
In a nut shell, the “bare necessities” of backpacking and hiking equipment are: tent pole sleeves, shock cord, nylon cord, duct tape, dental floss, needle and/or fishing hook. Gather your essentials, hit the trails, and “forget about your worries and your strife”.
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