I left you in the last post talking about the “Big 3″ The Pack, the Sleep system, and the Shelter. Now we discuss the “Next 3″. The “Next 3″ components of your gear consist of the Cook kit, the First Aid kit, and Rain gear. Now in most articles that you will read and in most backpacking forums and circles the Sleeping pad is listed in the “Next 3″. But since I like to put the sleep pad in with the sleep system, and since my target audience is typically Scouts and Scouters, I think that logic would dictate that the sleep pad go with the “Big 3″. Regardless I think it is important that the First Aid kit is placed in with the “Next 3″.
So let’s get into these “Next 3″ components.
First, the Cook kit. When I say ‘Cook kit’ I am referring to that gear that will be used to prepare the meal, eat the meal, and clean up after the meal. This would include your cook pot, your stove, your towel, soap, fuel, lighter, utensils, eating ware (bowl, plate, cup or mug). For a backpacker, these kitchen items really need to be small and fully functional. Most meals require a single pot so a full cook set really is unnecessary. A small stove such as the Snow Peak Giga Power is enough to get water going and can even be used for frying up eggs. Keep in mind that you don’t need to bring the kitchen sink. The essentials of a Cook kits are:
Stove, bowl, pot, towel, scrubber, camp suds soap, wind screen, lighter, spoon or spork, cup or mug.
Next let us dive into the First Aid kit. Everyone needs to carry some sort of First Aid kit. It need not be big, but it needs to be able to provide the essentials to do First Aid. Gloves, band aids, ace wrap, gauze pads, prep pads, mole skin, tweezers, and aspirin are a good start. All of that will fit in a zip lock bag. I would also consider throwing in some butter fly closure strips and tape. The Scout handbook and the internet have lots of resources to give you tips on what to put in your kit. Just have one that will first serve you.. and then a buddy.
Rain gear wraps up the “Next 3″. This is important (not just here in Oregon) to keep handy. Rain gear serves more than just to keep one dry. It can be an outer layer of clothing. It is a great wind stopper, can be used as a ground cloth. Rain gear is essential in preventing hypothermia. Yes, even in the summer a hiker exposed to the elements can fall into those conditions. Staying dry and clean are some of the reasons to carry rain gear. Poncho’s are nice as they can serve multiple purposes. However I don’t recommend them to Scouts as they quickly become capes and provide less protection than Rain pants and jacket. There are some inexpensive, light weight options out there. Frogg Toggs makes a rain suit that retails for $20. It needs to be taken care of, but the weight and protection pay for itself in one rain storm.
So that’s the ‘Next 3′ components of the packing list.
Those 6 items make up the bulk of your gear. What’s left.. pretty much your little stuff and clothing.
“The Little Stuff”
Most new Scouts come out of Webelos ready for their day hikes with their 10 essentials. Moving to the “Big Pack” the 10 essentials get spread out within the contents of pockets and gear in the pack. You still need all 10, but they will be displaced throughout your gear. A great idea is to build a ditty bag to catch-all your “Little Stuff”
Matches or other fire starting materials, your compass, head lamp, small lantern, duct tape, extra cord, hand warmers, lip balm and sun block and a bandana just to list a few items. I keep all my “little stuff” in a ditty bag where I can find it and have access to it when needed.
Then you need to break down your clothing. This pretty much is the most variable of your gear items. Weather conditions, temperature, and length of trip will dictate your clothing choices. The most common error is taking too much. Give a serious look at the clothing you take. See what you really need versus what you want and try to get all your clothing in a single stuff sack.
So there it is. The Big 3, the Next 3, the little stuff and clothing. That’s your gear in a nut shell. Gear Glorious Gear. Develop your gear lists and kits that you are comfortable with, you can use, and you want to carry.
Any questions, comments, or suggestions.. give me a holler!
Have a Great Scouting Day!