What I Carry in the Backcountry

Three pounds that could make a difference

With the changing of the seasons, I like to remind myself what I’ve been carting around.

My “overnight” bag

  • Huge, thick trash bag
  • Shell overmitts
  • Two-person emergency bag
  • Three different ways to start a fire – I’ve used my stove to light a fire during an unexpected night out. My stove was the difference between a wet, miserable night and an interesting adventure.
  • Lifestraw
  • Length of cord

Add enough clothes/layers to keep me, and my son, alive in the emergency bag for the night. This usually isn’t more than a back up shell, ultralight down pants, spare jacket and some booties.

My first aid kit:

  • General, backcountry first aid kit – scissors and moleskin are a great way to make new friends…
  • Hot packs for hands and feet – essential for doing anything with kids, always carry in my pocket when I ski
  • Tourniquet with my belt as back up – insurance against having someone bleed out in front of me. I also carry in my car and under my bike saddle.
  • Field dressing and elastic bandage
  • Water purification tablets (back up to the LifeStraw)
  • Pulse oximeter (batteries separate as they corrode if left in the unit)
  • Selection of meds including antihistamine & high dose aspirins – I carry albuterol at the top of my pack

I don’t carry an epipen in Colorado but do carry one when I’m near the ocean. I have a jellyfish allergy that sent me to hospital a few years back.

When I’m on snow, add a high-quality metal shovel.

Knife matched to what I’m going to be doing and the local wildlife. I have a SOG Seal Pup mounted upside down on my left backpack strap, the sheath lets me carry a multitool.

Gloves on, hands out of pockets => family policy as long as my kids can remember. I like leather sailing gloves on rock and mixed terrain.

When I’ll be out of cellphone range add InReach satellite communicator – always tracking me with 10-minute pings when I’m alone. Carried in the top pocket of my pack & backed up with a lanyard and quickdraw.

The InReach is an easy way to send messages home, regardless of location. I took a course from a heart-attack survivor who called in an evac on his unit. Small price to pay for the comfort it gives my family.

Zipped, exterior pockets – I like to wear mountain bike shorts, year round, as the pockets are great for quick access to my phone, which I use for navigation and photos.

This is the gear for when I don’t expect to stay out.