Peninsula Fly Fishers
  

Tony's Backpacking Hints

by Tony Plutynski

November 2003

Minimize weight.
In general, minimize weight anyway you can. It will make your trip more enjoyable and allow you to go farther to get to that great fishing location. Spend time as you climb those passes thinking about all the ways that you can cut weight.
Wear long sleeves and pants.
You can always roll up those sleeves and pants. In the high country it will save on the amount of sun block and mosquito repellent that you use and carry.
Wear layers for warmth.
If you use layers you have much more flexibility in choosing the temperature you want to dress for and you get the advantage of the layers of dead air between the clothes as insulation.
Wear polypropylene.
The new polypropylenes are lighter and dry faster, and wear better than wool and other material.
Stow gear in the same place every time.
Given all the pockets that most packs and camping clothes have, if you get in the habit of always using the same location for the same stuff it will save you lots of time.
Repack items that come in too-large containers.
Items such as sunblock and mosquito repellent come in containers that contain too much for your trip. Pack them in smaller containers that are different shapes so that you can tell what the item is by feel.
At the beginning of the day, set aside the items that you will need that day.
This saves time and allows for more time doing the important things such as fishing and napping. Items such as lunch, a parka for the top of passes, a camera, a ground cloth for napping come to mind.
Step over things instead of on them.
This is for safety, because it is usually hard to balance on the top of logs, especially with a pack. You can't always step over, but try to as much as possible.
Pack items together that are used together.
Such as: tent poles with tent and tent ground cloth; stove with matches, pots, and cooking utensils; lunches, breakfasts, and dinners in separate bags. This is a time saver.
People walk at different speeds.
Accept that people are different and that it is painful to walk at a gait that is unnatural for you. For safety, make sure that your companions know where to meet and which paths to follow.
Use the blow tube.
Make a great fire aid by attaching a simple six-inch length of copper tubing to about an eight-inch length of surgical tubing. You can blow into the surgical tubing to keep a fire going without singing your eyebrows.
Try to find items with multiple uses.
Examples are: use your sleeping bag's stuff bag as a pillow by stuffing it with extra clothes when you sleep. My cooking pot top also serves me as a small plate.
Use tooth powder instead of tooth paste.
This saves weight.
Whenever you return to the campfire site, carry firewood.
This saves separate trips later.
Carry just the articles you want to read.
This will save you weight and encourage you to read them so that you have fire-starting paper.
Eat the heaviest first.
Another weight saver.
Repackage food.
To save weight.
Use the smallest flashlight and knife possible.
Carry a small AM/FM radio.
For weather warnings.
Carry a small, lightweight signal mirror.
To signal planes for help.
Checklist.
Make a checklist and stick to it.
Roughly determine the time till sunset.
Hold your arm out; each finger between the sun and horizon represents fifteen minutes.
Combat high altitude illness.
Sleep at as high an altitude as possible before the trip, and use Diamox (a prescription drug) in advance.
High-proof booze for fun and emergencies.
If you take booze, you might as well use something that provides more punch to the ounce and mixes well with many things. I use 151-proof Barcardi rum. Also, it has enough alcohol to start fires in emergency conditionsundefinedsuch as a blizzard in Toulume Meadows one late October. Remember that it takes less booze to become drunk at altitude.
Use the foil method to cook fresh fish.
Bring a few sheets of foil for delicious fish and easy clean-up. Full description of the method.
Treat water with Betadyne.
Betadyne is available in most drugstores. Add eight drops per quart to treat water. It takes only twenty-five minutes. Betacyne is much lighter and less expensive than filters.
Who needs a fork?
I eat with a lexan spoon and my jack knife. A lexan spoon is much lighter than a metal one and is almost indestructable. A knife can handle anything that you need the fork for.
Cheaper, lighter canteen.
A small widemouthed soda bottle is lighter than a canteen. Also cheaper.
Carry just enough water.
Water is heavy. Carry only the water you need, plus a safety amount, to reach the next source.
A homemade wood-fuel stove.
An empty coffee can is the basis for this stove. A wire inserted into two holes make a bail for lifting the stove. A top cut from a sheet of metal completes it. Carry it in a plastic bag so the wood-fire soot doesn't dirty the other items in your pack. Using wood reduces the amount of liquid fuel you must carry.
Toilet paper.
Bring the amount of toilet paper that you will need, plus a bit more for safety. Also have a small amount of TP in a small plastic bag in the back pocket of your trousers so that you can be ready to go at anytime.
Barbless hooks.
Have some barbless hook lures so as to not damage the fish.
Share the weight.
Parcel out jointly used items among your companions.

Backpacking Bibliography

  • Sierra North by T. Winnett & K. Schwenke
  • Sierra South by T. Winnett & J. Winnett
  • Pacific Crest Trail, V. 1, CA by T. Winnett
  • Starr's Guide by W. A. Starr, Jr.
  • Sierra Trout Guide by Ralph Cutter
  • The High Sierra Peaks, Passes, And Trails by Steve Roper (out of print)
  • The Trinity Alps by L Linkhart
  • The Tahoe Sierra by J. P. Schaffer
  • The Climber's Guide to The High Sierra by Steve Roper
  • Timberline Country, The High Sierra Route by Steve Roper
  • Beyond Backpacking, Ray Jardine's Guide To Lighweight Hiking by Ray Jardine
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