Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mini-Vacation and Over-Zealous Packing

So one of the many things I tend to do is to get over-eager when it comes to preparing for things. Whether it be starting a new job, getting acquainted with a new hobby, or packing for trips... specifically packing for trips that involve me being outdoors for any duration longer than it generally takes to get from my front door to my car. But I have some time off from work coming up this week, which will see me embarking on my first hiking trip since being back in the Seattle area. My time in Vegas saw me spending a fairly good amount of time around the Red Rock Canyon park, and hiking those short trails, short being the operative word. So when the promise of a hike with a fairly severe elevation gain in a 5 mile distance becomes a foreseeable reality, I get pack happy.

The first thing I did after we finally cemented our plans (we being Aaron, crime.wav and myself) was to rush out and find a survival kit that was fairly priced. I also acquired a decent and low-cost first aid kit, and threw in several other essentials for what I consider one of the better wilderness survival kits that I've put together. All together I spent $12 on the survival kit and $7 on the first aid kit. Everything else I was already in possession of: Brinkman LED flashlight with colored lens covers, CRKT Zilla Jr multitool, needle and thread, matches, CRKT Crawford/Kasper folding blade, half roll of duct tape, 20 ibuprofen, and 25 feet of para cord. The survival kit itself was packaged neatly in the water bottle in the picture and housed: rain poncho, emergency blanket, compass/whistle/flint/dry storage container, ziplock bag, and an additional throwaway flashlight (not pictured) and batteries. Of course I took everything out of the water bottle and stuffed it all into a much better and smaller container, so as to a) take up less room in the pack, and b) allow me to actually use the water bottle that was originally used as storage.

On the top are the contents of what I call the tactical half, on the bottom are the contents of what I refer to as the practical half. I'm pretty impressed with myself so far, though of course, as is usual when undertaking a project like this, I have this nagging feeling that there are items missing, so should anyone catch what those may be, please give me a holler.

And what hike would be complete without a suitable daypack for the excursion? I honestly didn't want to really worry about taking the water bottle along, since it's rather large and I don't want to bogart potential extra room in the pack itself, as I was looking for something specifically low-profile anyway... making a "camel pack" something of a requirement. I, however, am far to frugal about things, especially between paychecks, so balked at the higher priced Northface, Dakine, Camel Pack, and Jansport brand backpacks. But being something of a rummager, I found this at Joe's earlier this evening:It's an NTG, which is an unknown pack to me, but with a price of $30 I decided I couldn't go wrong. It's high density polyester and ripstop so it should prove fairly durable, though I don't plan to throw it down a mountain to test it. Two large main compartments and an adjustable stuff pouch in the front. The shoulder straps are exceptionally comfortable and apparently the back of the pack offers moisture wicking. The zippers are waterproof which I could see being exceptionally handy, and the whole pack cinches down really easily, to minimize the apparent cargo load quite a bit. The real selling point of the pack, though, was the 1.5 liter bladder and tube straw (with a bite valve, I might add, for even more convenience) that stores comfortably in the larger compartment, out of the way of any other equipment stowed there. We'll see if I get what I paid for with this one, but I'm being an optimist as first impressions are indeed positive.

At any rate, I haven't been real excited for much other than my weekly shooting the last month or two, so this is something I am really looking forward. Being outdoors with cool people and taking in sights I haven't had a chance to in years. The Pacific Northwest really is a gorgeous spot on the North American map, and this hike, the Denny Creek hike up to Melakwa Lake is my favorite hike west of Snoqualmie Pass. I may try a bit of trailblazing if my comrades are up to it, though the legitimate hike itself is well worth it once you get to the top. I will indeed have my cheap Sony camera on hand to capture what I see when I'm up there, to share with any readers here, and preserve for posterity and nostalgia WTSHTF.


Aaron said...

NIcely done man. I'm stoked to get out and about too, though I had to cancel my work demo today because I physically could not stand this am from stiffness and foot pain. Think my feet are just going through a break-in period after a year of inactivity. I should be fine for the hike with my C.S. walking stick. Plus I don't have to work for several days post-hike. On a + note, both of our lungs should be much improved, as non-smokers. Well done.

Aaron said...

I did a little search and it seems like NTG wass "GI Joe's" own store brand of duffles and packs.

Aaron said...

I forgot to tell you, the mini-Otterbox 1000 series makes a very good, water and airtight case for such a kit. Some people prefer Pelican cases, but Otterboxes are simpler. I have a couple small ones that work great for paper money and prescription meds. A simple Bic lighter seems a likely choice instead of matches when using a watertight container also, and common dryer lint makes great tinder for firecraft.