In a medium-size, day-hike type backpack (which will be used daily), please include the following essentials inside: (we can help supply some of these items if you contact us in advance)
Giant Plastic Garbage Bag or two, for waterproofing yourself and your gear.
Full Water Bottle. An inexpensive one (like bottled water from the grocery store) is fine, but if you are attending our backpacking week, or if you want to get the best type, buy an unlined, stainless steel water bottle (the last thing you will ever want to leave home without after being trained in survival skills). In fact, the best thing to get is a wide-mouth, unlined Kleen Kanteen. Backpacking water filters screw right onto it, and you can also boil water in it.
Toothbrush, toothpaste & floss
Sunscreen (small container)
Toilet Paper (enough for 2 uses – we’ll resupply)
Small package of Handi Wipes, or baby wipes.
Personal first aid kit, plus any medicines you need.
Small LED Headlamp with new batteries.
Spoon, Fork, Cup & Metal Pot, preferably with lid and no plastic parts: The pot should be big enough to keep the cup, spoon and fork inside, but small enough to fit inside your large packing bag/backpack. The pot will be used for boiling water and cooking food over a campfire. We recommend stainless steel (check Goodwill and other used stores first, then sporting goods stores, housewares departments or go to REI, search online, etc.) because it is durable and healthy to use when cooking, often has small handles which is nice for usability, and most important, isn’t as toxic (unlike aluminum) when used over the long term. Titanium is an excellent option for backpacking, although it is very expensive. Bottom line: any sort of metal bowl and cup will be fine; getting the perfect pot takes time and usually money, so just grab the oldest thing you have at home if you want.
Wool or synthetic/fleece hat for warmth.
Sun hat (baseball cap is fine, but a full brim, packable hat is best). You may also use a bandana.
Leather gloves – for safety when working with tools/knives, for warmth and for protection when working around fire.
Sunglasses with strap in small zip-lock bag or case for protection. It is best to have glasses without special parts/screws, etc. (less to break/go wrong). Look for the single-mold plastic kind (plain over nose, etc.). We recommend amber lenses with UV protection because they enhance colors rather than the dark lenses which dim vision but the choice is yours.
Tiny Sewing Kit (learn to use it by sewing it safely to the inside of the backpack if you wish) including a few safety pins.
Mirrored Compass. You can get an inexpensive mirrored, map compass for about $10 which is perfectly fine to learn on, such as the “Orienteering Compass by Rothco” on amazon.com. If you want one that is absolutely accurate and very durable, then spend $30-$50 for the Silva Ranger, Brunton 15TDCL, or Suunto MC-2. Please note 1) that you need a “map” or “orienteering” compass: one whose base is clear so that you can place it on a map and see through to the map, 2) the mirror greatly improves sighting accuracy and doubles as a signaling device, and 3) your camp itinerary may not include a lot of orienteering, but using a compass is important; we have extra if you can’t get one, but let us know in advance.
In a larger bag, suitcase or backpack please bring the following: (please note that with the exception of our backpacking camp week, we won’t be backcountry hiking/camping except for short overnight trips, depending on the camp week, when you will leave your larger bag at base camp but bring your essentials in your daypack)
Sleeping Bag that fits into a semi-small stuff-sack to save space, speed packing and add some water resistance. The mid-price range kind at cheaper sporting-goods stores like Fred Meyer or Big Five are good enough, and we have some extras in case you can’t afford or don’t have time to get one yourself.
Closed-cell foam Sleeping Pad, preferably the square fold-up type (roll up is ok, too, just bring some string or rope to tie it up) since they are easiest to pack and use. Air mattress pads are not okay (unless you have arthritis or other medical issue necessitating it’s use) since they pop holes easily when we sleep under the stars, and do not provide protection during lightning storms, however rare they are in low elevation Western Washington.
Small fleece blanket to cover your sleeping bag when cold or sleeping out under the stars.
Clothing: (we recommend natural colors or patterns, that are not noisy or “swooshy sounding” when moving in them)
Three pairs of long pants: 1) Sturdy but comfortable jeans for working with tools (especially knives) and for moving through sticker bushes; 2) Thinner pants for hiking and moving through brush (offer protection but won’t overheat you on warm days); and 3) a pair of polyester/fleece sweatpants, thin wool pants (try second-hand stores) or thick stretch pants are also required (something that will keep you warm and comfortable, even if it’s raining).
Long underwear bottoms or comfortable synthetic leggings which are key to warmth at night and during wet weather. Fred Meyer / Walmart / Big 5, etc. often have soft synthetic long underwear bottoms which are not of great quality, but they will work ok. Wool or silk long underwear are also great.
Two long-sleeve undershirts (for layering). 1) One needs to be synthetic (for warmth), and the least expensive are those thin “body glove/under armour-style” tops sold in places like Big 5 Sporting Goods, but the warmest ones are the softer polypropylene, merino wool, etc. that are more expensive at places like REI. This shirt will be good for wet weather and all terrain. 2) The other long-sleeve shirt should be a comfortable cotton shirt that would be good for moving through underbrush in warm weather.
2-4 under shirts (t-shirts and tank-tops should be tasteful/appropriate).
Two Outer Tops that are good in cold/wet weather: Options include wool shirts (like a button-down shirt) and/or fleece jacket/pullover. We do have some extra fleece pullovers, so if your budget is limited, just tell us in advance to bring one for you. Please note that cotton coats are worthless when wet. Don’t bring any. Cotton is very comfortable, and can be tightly woven like jeans to provide some protection when working with tools and moving through sticker bushes, but again, don’t count on it if you ever need to stay warm in Western Washington. Remember that it gets cold and wet by the water, at higher elevations, and at night, even in the middle of the summer!
3-6 pairs of underwear.
4 pairs of comfortable socks, plus 2 pair of wool/insulated socks are required!
Swim and outdoor shower wear, including a pair of water shoes (required), aka water moccasins, water socks, water shoes, sandals that strap on (not flip-flops), etc.
Rain gear: bring/buy a medium-gauge rainsuit (jacket and pants). If you already have more expensive or durable rain gear, that’s fine too, but the kind at Fred Meyer / Walmart / Big K / Big 5 are great for what we do. Note: The inexpensive types ($5-$10) aren’t durable enough for walking through underbrush.
Footwear: Waterproof hiking boots are highly recommended but are only required for our backpacking week. However, we do require some sort of sturdy hiking boots for all of our expeditions. Additionally, you will need at least one change of shoes (we recommend close-toe shoes for safety around camp/tools/forest). Sandals (that strap on) are fine, something you can change into after hiking/wear around camp that will allow your feet to rest/breathe. Be sure you have broken in all footwear well in advance to avoid blisters!
Food: You can bring snacks like jerky, gorp, and other wholesome camping/hiking foods. But, DO NOT leave them in your backpack unless you’re going on a day hike because critters like to get into them. We can store your extra snacks with our kitchen gear if you wish. No junk food is allowed at camp, so we recommend items include jerky, dried fruit, nuts, or specialty items for those with dietary restrictions.
Knives: It’s fine if you bring your own knife. We will have knives that we recommend available to borrow and for sale. If you would like to borrow one of our knives, please bring a belt upon which to carry it.
Tent: Like many of the above items, we have tents you can use, but please bring your own if it has a rain fly that goes all the way to the ground.