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What’s in My Bag? – Heron

I work in the subalpine regions of Washington state studying high elevation amphibians.  My work schedule is usually 5 days ...

I work in the subalpine regions of Washington state studying high elevation amphibians.  My work schedule is usually 5 days on in the backcountry, 2 days off in town to resupply and catch up on email.

On any given work trip into the backcountry I’ll walk up to 20 miles per day, visit up to 50 wetlands, and carry 10 extra pounds of research gear.  Over the past several years the amount of research gear that I’m required to carry has increased, driving down the weight and number of other things in my backpack.

Here’s what’s in my bag:

heron
Bag/Backpack:
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Porter Pack, $310 – It fits me well and its weight is reasonable at 33 oz. It’s waterproof and white so you can see down inside.

Sleeping items:
A homemade down quilt, comparable to Nunatak Arc Specialist, $479.
A homemade shelter, comparable to Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp, $120 and Serenity Shelter, $145.
Thermarest Neo-Air Small, $110 – I have had a few small holes in it over four years, but they were patched easily with Gorilla Tape.
MSR Groundhog Stakes, $16 for 6

Cooking items:
Evernew 1.3 L Titanium pot, $60 – I’ve met folks who have used this pot for 20 years. Just be sure to get the version which is NOT non-stick. The plain titanium will last much longer.
Vargo Titanium Spork, $12 – Short enough tines to not loose all your liquid when used as a spoon.
Super Cat Stove, Free or $2 – The lightest stove on earth. Make your own at home in five minutes.
Denatured alcohol for the stove in an old soda bottle.
Stuffsack for food, $10
LiteTrail NyloBarrier Odor Proof Bag, $5 for 3 – Food goes in here, then in the stuff sack, which prevents rodents and bears from being too interested in my pack.
Aquamira Bottle, $20 with Sawyer Mini filter, $17 – The most convenient way I’ve found to filter water in the backcountry. Get the Sawyer filter though, the one that comes with the bottle is awful.

Clothing items:
Arc’teryx Phase SL T-shirt, $46 – Not all polyfiber shirts are created equal. This is one of the only ones I’ve ever used which actually moves sweat away from my skin.
Gramicci Men’s Rocket Dry G Pants, $36 – Simple, light, quick-drying pants. No gimmicks.
Darn Tough Socks 1/4 Ultralight, $13 – This company will replace your socks when you wear holes in them.
Ibex Hooded Indie Wool Shirt, $80
Patagonia Capilene 3 Long Undies, $55
Feathered Friends Daybreak Jacket, $240
Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody, $150 – This windbreaker is my favorite clothing item.  I wear it for sun and bug protection.  When working with amphibians, we do not use sunscreen or bug repellent and instead must cover up our skin.  I wear this, long pants, and a head-net for bug and sun protection.
Headnet, $15 – You can probably find this cheaper off-line.

Small items
Leica 10×25 BCA Binoculars, $500 – The lightest, quality binoculars I have found.
Suunto Core Watch, $233 – Combine this with a topo map for dead simple navigation.
Belomo Triplet Loupe, $35 – The best-quality cheap loupe.
Rite-in-Rain Notebook, $8 – We use larger versions of these for work. Personal notes go in this one.
Zebralight 52W Headlamp, $64
Platypus 2L Soft Bottle, $10 – I try to never carry more than .75 L of water, but when I need to, I use this.
Aquamira Chlorine Dioxide Drops, $13 – A backup to my water filter, repackaged in smaller drip bottles.
Whistle, $1
Suunto  M-3 Compass, $25 – Adjustable declination is my guilty pleasure.
Bic Lighter $1
Leatherman Squirt PS4, $30
Kiss My Face Sunscreen, $7 – Used occasionally on my nose.
Canon S100 Camera, $400 – I have had three of these. It’s my favorite camera.  The most current version is the S120.
Skilcraft Pencil, $27 for 6 – My favorite pencil. It’s very hard to find though.  The steel lead sleeve fully retracts into pencil body to avoid breaking the tip or punching holes in your clothes/pack/body.
Skilcraft Ballpoint Pen, $13 for 12
Maps printed from CalTopo.com, Free – A free alternative to topo map software. No account necessary. The advanced features are there if you need them but don’t get in the way.

-- Heron 03/3/15

(Cool Tools Readers! We will pay you $100 if we run your "What's in My Bag" story. Send photos of the things in your bag (and of the bag itself, if you love it), along with a description of the items and why they are useful. Make sure the photos are large (1200 pixels wide, at least) and clear. Use a free file sharing service to upload the photos, and email the text to editor@cool-tools.org. -- Mark Frauenfelder — editors)