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Packing for the Outdoors - Tips from Global Rescue

Packing for the Outdoors - Tips from Global Rescue

by Drew Pache

Drew Pache is a Manager in Global Rescue’s Security Operations Department. Prior to joining the Global Rescue, he spent 21 years as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Because people head outdoors for many different reasons and encounter different environments during different seasons, it is challenging to compile a “master list” to cover all outdoor activities. However, in my more than two decades in the military where I worked and lived in everything from Arctic cold to desert heat, there are some items that I found it hard to live without. The right equipment on the trail will not only keep you alive; it will also keep you comfortable and allow greater enjoyment of your trip, whatever your activity of choice may be.

In general, I divide my gear into three piles, suitable for 1) a larger backpack 2) a smaller day pack, or 3) to be either worn or kept in my pockets.

Larger backpack

These items are for living and comfort and include the following:

--Tent/bivy cover
--Sleeping bag
--Sleeping pad
--Mosquito net
--Extra clothing
--Stove/cooking gear

The shelter, sleeping bag, and extra clothing are all dictated by the climate and location, as is the necessity of a mosquito net. I recommend waterproof bags to keep items dry. Food is obviously a necessity, but the type and the elaborateness of its preparation are completely up to you. I am pretty spartan about food on the trail, and literally have spent months eating cold food, even when hot chow was available. However, friends of mine have elevated back country cooking to an art form and can create a gourmet meal from the most meager ingredients. Needless to say, their skills didn’t hurt their popularity.

Day pack

The second category of gear goes in the day pack. When camping or hunting, I usually hike in under the full load. Once camp is set, I venture out on shorter trips from there. The load is much lighter but you still need to have the basics on hand in case you get into trouble (or trouble finds you).

Items for the small pack:

--Warming layer
--GPS w/ extra (rechargeable) batteries
--Solar charger
--First aid kit
--Head lamp
--Space blanket
--Foam pad (for sitting in cold, snowy conditions)
--Fire-starting gear
--Signal mirror
--Sat phone / texting device (for very remote locations)

The solar charger, a recent addition to my kit, can charge my cell phone, GPS, headlamp and anything else that can be powered with rechargeable batteries. You can even clip it onto your pack and it will charge as you hike. Earlier on the Global Rescue blog, we featured a blog post on the contents of a good first aid kit. Even though this kit is light and packs smaller than you’d think, it will cover you through a variety of misadventures,

To be worn/ in pockets

These are the items I have on me at all times:

--Map of the area and a decent compass

GPS devices are one of the miracles of the modern world, but they can break or run out of batteries at the most inopportune times. It is also easier to terrain-associate with a map than with GPS. I definitely get a better feel for the lay of the land when I can see it on paper.

--Folding knife or multi-tool
--Signal mirror

Parachute cord is great because in a pinch it can be taken apart, or “gutted,” and the smaller strings inside the outer covering can be used individually. They don’t look like much but they are really strong!

--A pair of light but durable gloves

Hard experience has also taught me to protect my hands out there, regardless of the temperature. This prevents the painful scrapes and punctures that are inevitable when traveling in the back country.

--Some type of eye protection

This is important for more than just protection from the sun’s glare. Low branches can pose a nasty hazard, especially when moving in the woods after dark. An eye injury in the backcountry can be disabling and will virtually guarantee a trip to the local ER (if one is available).

The gear above is what I bring on most trips. It does not have to be fancy or high tech and generally the simplest solutions are the best.

We look forward to hearing what you never leave home without!

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