2011 Gear/Supplements

For 9 years this has been a public service that apparently has helped hundreds and maybe thousands.  Find out how you can help it to continue going to:

 For a sort of mini-course and my history with LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING, go to the "Articles" page or click on:  Lightweight Backpacking. In this Gear/Supplements section I will first give links to guide books, maps, TOPO CD/ROM, etc. and then a run-down of all the essential gear and supplements that I have found most effective. With each item there will be links to where you may acquire the item(s).  I will try and avoid theory and experience and keep it simple. For those details go to the LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING article, or the HOW I DO A ...BACKPACK article linked below.

This article has a totally new BASIC PACK and much up-to-date information. Go to:   HOW I DO A 3 DAY BACKPACK--New Gear and Supplements
Lightweight backpacking should be simple, but if you want to dig into the details let me suggest a couple of the best books.  These books, and everything I suggest here have complete application to backpacking anywhere, but I will follow here with info on one of the best guide books on the Uintas, then maps and a Topographical CD/Rom you put on your computer.  I'll end this introduction with a book that sort of saved me and made possible a continuation of my High Uintas Project.
Backpacking Light should be simple, but if you want to specialize, here are the best resources LIGHTWEIGHT and  BEYOND BACKPACKING

 For the guide book click on: HIGH UINTAS BACKCOUNTRY
For the NG Wilderness map, click on: NG MAP
For topographical maps of the specific areas you will be in  see the National Geographic TOPO CD/Rom next.
For the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources pamphlets on the High Uintas, you can get them at the DWR Store at
1594 West No. Temple, Salt Lake City, UTAH 84114-6301

Even before you prepare your equipment you've got to research where you're going.
Get this and install it on your computer and you're on your way. One of these could do for a pair of backpacking buddies, or a group--and save some money.  Get the TOPO for the state of your interest. Click on:  TOPO CD/ROM  With this you can zoom in on the specific area of your trip, plot your route, label the distances,  do a fly over, and see an elevation profile--and of course print your maps--including an extra set to leave at home so the family will know where you'll be.

On my 27 day "expedition" in 2003 I met the author 1 hour down the trail. He was doing a bit of scouting in preparation for his 2nd edition in which he mentions my High Uintas Project.
Ironically the book is about the High Uintas . If you are interested click on:  SAGEBRUSH COUNTRY
On the first night of my "expedition" pain kept me from sleeping--so off and on I read through the night.  What a life saving book choice! For details on this experience, see my "1,000 Mile....Backpack"  or the
LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING photo essay at:  Lightweight Backpacking  You can get this gem of a book at:  NOT THE BIKE
Since 2004 I have never removed my Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG wristband.
It reminds me continually to NEVER GIVE IN!  Make a contribution and get a bunch of them at:  LIVESTRONG WRISTBAND
See the SURVIVAL STORY connected to Lance Armstrong at: NEVER GIVE IN!

My BASIC  PACK for 2010 has improved with a new pack, bag and pad, all of which I will show below, plus other options which are very good.

The one I have chosen to use in 2010 is the REI Flash 65 Backpack.  The complete pack as seen above weighs 3 lbs.  To it's right it is  seen with the top hood/lid and the frame sheet removed, resulting in a weight of only 2 lbs.  which you will see is still large enough for trips up to 9 days or more.  The complete pack will be used for one 18 day no-resupply  trip which the very lightweight pack I used for the last couple of years couldn't do.

This pack won the "2009 Editor's Choice Award" in BACKPACKER MAGAZINE.  You can learn more about it, and acquire it clicking on:  REI Flash 65 Backpack. Click here for some great options by GoLite:  For other backpack options.
THE TENT:  My choice for 2010 is to continue with the same tent I have used for several years:  It is the Gossamer Gear Tarp Tent.  It is pricey, but extremely light and compact.  See it's slightly improved version called SQUALL CLASSIC at   The packed tent is seen below.  Total weight is 28 oz. including the center pole I made as I don't use trekking poles.
Click here:  For other tent options.    I'm linking mainly to GoLite tents as they are very light and inexpensive, but remember that until late in the summer season you need mosquito protection.
Here is another option for a shelter--best after the mosquitoes are gone.  My rain poncho is used (which you take anyway), along with a bivy bag.  It does have mosquito netting--it weighs 14 oz. saving nearly a lb. in weight compared to my tent . See an inexpensive bivy bag   The poncho is Integral Designs weighing 8 oz.  See it at poncho
To see the evolution in shelters I've used since 2003 see the HOW I DO A ....BACKPACK  
article and scroll down.

SLEEPING PAD (or air mattress):  In the HOW I DO A....BACKPACK  article  you can see the packed up pads I have used since 2003 showing my new choice being very tiny. My new pad is the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Mattress that is 20"x66"x2.5" thick--just what I need for greater comfort.  It is pricy, but for me will be worth it.  Check it out at:

The next photograph shows the NeoAir in use inside of the Tarp Tent.  My Mountain Hardware primaloft jacket fills the quilt's compression sack as my pillow.
My new Golite Quilt is ready to spread over me-
SLEEPING BAG--or QUILT:  This summer I will be testing the +20 degree Golite UltraLite 3-Season Quilt that weighs 1 lb. 8 oz.  You see it covering me in the above photo.  Note I use a stocking cap as I can't stand covering my head as most do with mummy bags.  
You can learn more about the Quilt  and acquire it at:  GoLite 3 Season Quilt    To compare this Quilt with the bags I have used since 1981 see again the HOW I DO....article scrolling down.

So my 2010 sleeping gear is seen packed up above--1 lb. 2 oz. lighter than the previous gear, and more compact.  Once again the links:  
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Air Mattress and  GoLite 3 Season Quilt 


The 2010 BASIC EQUIPMENT #2 collection--just a bit different

First, waterproof jackets, pants and ponchos
Above you see what I'm saying is essential--a very lightweight waterproof/windbreaker jacket.
Below are the packed up rain gear items:  1st waterproof pants, middle is the essential poncho and last a jacket.
The right item is my waterproof Kelty jacket that weighs 9 oz.and is very inexpensive.  
The first item to the left is a pair of Marmot brand waterproof pants.   They weigh 10 oz. mainly because they have zippers up each side so that they can be put on and off without removing boots and they have pockets--both very worthwhile advantages.
The middle item in the above photo, also an essential,  is a rain poncho that will cover you and your gear (backpack) when it rains.  The one I use is a 9 oz. Integral Designs product you can find at:  Sil Poncho  It is pricy but has ties around the edge and can be used also as a shelter. You can see it as a shelter at:  Sil Poncho shelter  Other inexpensive options can be seen at:  Ponchos
 You can see many jacket and pants options at:  Rain jackets  As you will notice many are very expensive, but a very inexpensive and very lightweight option is Rain Shield hooded jacket and pants seen below all packed up.
They weigh 5 oz. (jacket) and 4 oz. (pants). I will be testing them this season and you'll get my report.   They are a bit more bulky than the others I show here, but the weight savings is pretty good.  They are very simple without pockets, and the pants don't have zippers so you'll have to removed your footgear to put on or off.
See them at Rain Shield hooded jacket and pants 

Another option is what some call a WINDSHIRT which you see me using below.  It is a Golite product which only weighs 3 oz. and can be stuffed in a back pocket.  It is "water-resistant" but not waterproof, so in a good rain, get your poncho on too.  The Golite improved version is now called "Ether" that zips up the front (a great advantage) and weighs 4 oz..  See it at WINDSHIRT

Now the critical item of WATER
There are a number of systems to filter and purify water.  The one I use and recommend is seen below.
The MSR HyperFlow Microfilter.
It is perhaps the most expensive, but is faster and better. See it at MSR HyperFlow Microfilter and options One can be shared by a handful of backpackers. 
It does not come with bladder or canteen.
It filters and pumps your water directly into a bladder or canteen--but as seen they have to be wide mouthed. Below you can see me fetching water to take back to my camp a quarter of a mile away. I am using a Platypus bucket   There are Cheaper options
Back at camp I sit in a comfortable spot and do the pumping into my bladder, and other containers.
 I don't even recall what the brand is of my water bladder--it is so well used any name has worn off, but remember, to work with the MSR filter you have to have wide-mouthed bladders or canteens.  Perhaps the best and cheapest are:  NALGENE canteens  I don't recommend the tough bottle like canteens that are too heavy and too expensive.  Best to go with the flexible ones that fold into and weigh nothing.  If you insist on bottle types, go with the ones that cost nothing seen in the BASIC EQUIPMENT #2 photo.

In conclusion:  This 48 oz water bladder has served me well for 6 years, but 3 years ago it split open on the upper left corner. 
I tried many glues, but none lasted until I found Plastic Surgery Super Glue.  The repair has lasted 3 years and counting.  Get it at:   Plastic Surgery  A tube of this incredible glue will always be in my Emergency Kit.
The 1 quart pot I have used since 2005 is Titanium.  You can see a large selection at:  TITANIUM POTS & PANS  Of course titanium is quite expensive.    To save a bunch of money go to:   OTHER POTS and PANS
The clear shaker bottles cost nothing.  Just buy supplements, peanut butter, etc. or drinks that are clear plastic, preferably smooth for easier cleaning,  and large mouthed.


These are all items you can get at local outlets.

Now to the last category in our Equipment #2 gear: 
 Knife, SPOT Tracker, Compass and Headlamp

For a KNIFE,  the 2 oz. Leatherman Squirt is all I need--not just in the mountains, but it's in my pocket always even in Church!  The blade is small, but sufficient to gut a fish, etc.  and the pliers always come in handy--like to unhook a fish, etc.   See it at:  LEATHERMAN SQUIRT

Next in line is the   SPOT SATELLITE PERSONAL TRACKER, essential to let people at home know you're alright, where you are, and to get help if there is an emergency.  You can get information, and  buy/rent one from Russ Smith at:  SKYCALL COMMUNICATIONS 
seen below.  You can also get more info at:  SPOT SATELLITE PERSONAL TRACKER
Russ is using a satellite phone. A solo backpacker should have one for sure. For all my trips I have had one. A group should have one for sure, and I can guarantee that parents would be more than happy to share the cost.
 Once again you can rent a satellite phone from Russ Smith at:  SKYCALL COMMUNICATIONS
If you're not convinced check out my experience when a phone saved my life at:  SURVIVAL   I'll insert below the headline in hopes you'll go to it to get a number of life saving tips.

Next comes the all important COMPASS--to orient yourself, or your map to navigate safely in the high country, as seen below being taught to a group of Explorer/Boy Scouts in the Four Lakes Basin.
You don't have to spend much money.  Mine probably cost $2.95 or so.  Get info at:  COMPASS

Last comes the all important LIGHT, which in my mind now means HEADLAMP
You can't see it, but my headlamp is under the brim of my hat making possible a little reading.  The one pictured in the composite photo is a  very inexpensive Energizer you can see along with other options at:  HEADLAMPS   OTHER OPTIONS  The main one I show in the OPTIONS  is the Princeton brand, one of which I have used for years. It has important features your headlamp should have:  3 light levels for long  (150 hours) life, tiltable head, and waterproof.


SOCKS:  For your feet first a pair of CoolMesh WrightSocks that prevent blisters.  Since I have used them with my running shoes, and hiking boots I have never got a blister. They are worth their weight in gold!  See them at:  CoolMesh WrightSocks  You can see good boot sock options at:  boot socks....and  CREW LENGTH TOESOCKS - just in case you need them. 
Get more information at   INJINJI TOESOCKS


Here is what  I will be using in 2010.  The waterproof, very light Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX Fast Light Backpacking Boots  you see above on the left. This boot will likely be my mainstay, but I'll also use the Salomon waterproof mountain running shoe and see how it goes.  There is only 6 oz. of difference in the weight between them (pairs), 2 lbs. 3 oz. for the boots and 1 lb. 13 oz. for the shoes.  These are quality products without the high end cost.  See them at:  HIKING BOOTS 



You can zip off the bottom and be comfortably hiking in shorts. Remember, it is important to have legs with zippers so you can put them on and off without removing your boots or shoes. Also go for synthetic material, like Nycott, as it is lightweight, a windbreaker, and mosquitoes can't go through it. See a number of options at PANTS
You should use polyester fabric T-shirts.  They are more expensive, but last forever, even when humid retain some insulation value, and dry quickly.  For more information see my photo essay at: CLOTHES   Below I'll insert a couple that I use always--focusing on bright colors for better photographs.
 First my Lance Armstrong cycling jersey  you link to at CANARI shirts.

This favorite long sleeved shirt  is of the SUGOI brand you can link to them at Sugoi shirts
Another colorful favorite likely of the REI brand (label worn off). You can see many at REI shirts

For a number of years I stuck with my system of layering shirts, then on top my waterproof windbreaker jacket, but on one backpack trip my buddy Ted Packard loaned me his Primaloft insulated jacket and I was hooked.  So now my Mountain Hardware Primaloft jacket always goes with me, you see below.  It literally helped saved my life in one SURVIVAL experience.
 It weighs 12 oz. and feels fantastic when the sun goes down, or a real cold spell hits.  I use it in my quilt stuff sack to make a good pillow.  A good Sierra Designs equivalent can be seen at WARM JACKET  A good women's version can be seen at WOMEN'S JACKET  In this kind of lightweight jacket I don't recommend down insulation, rather Primaloft as it will not lose it's insulation value even when damp or wet.  Remember I'm not recommending a heavy winter ski parka for a backpack trip. It should be lightweight, around 12 oz.
Note also in the above photo my FISHERMEN'S GLOVES -- very useful with finger tips out to zip up or down something, operate a camera, read at night in your tent, and of course tie a fishing knot, etc.  They do make a difference.  You can get more information at  FISHING GLOVES 


They certainly are not an essential, but I love to take mine with me to use when gathering firewood, breaking it over a rock, moving rocks around, handling a hot pot, etc. as you see in the following photos.  They only weigh 3 oz.
Elk skin is better than deer or cowhide as it remains soft and pliable after drying.  If interested get info at  Elk skin gloves

DON'T FORGET YOUR HAT--High Country radiation is more intense.

This is the Barmah Foldaway Cooler hat from Australia.  Well ventilated, but when it rains I have had to do as seen in the next image.  If interested you can see it at: COOLER HAT
So I will now be using a wateproof hat you see below.
It's the Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero hat.  For info click on:  SEATTLE SOMBRERO HAT  It can also be configured to give you more protection from the sun or rain, as seen below.


For more information and enlarged photos go to  FISHING THE UINTAS
Basically I use a combination rod--spinning/fly fishing, so I have both types of reels, plus an assortment of the lures and flies I have found most effective. 
Total weight = 2 lbs. 2 oz.
You can get all of this and more (I don't recommend "more") at your local Outdoor outlet.

I can't imagine not being able to record and bring home with me the incredible beauty I experience in the High Country--memories I will have with me as long as I live, and be able to share with loved ones.  Of course I've kind of gone off the deep end with it as you see below, even my wide angle lens weighing more than my tent and camera, lens & tripod weighing more than my BASIC PACK!  My photo equipment for a lightweight backpack now comes to 12 lbs..
I'm not recommending that, but a small point and shoot camera about the size of a deck of cards will give you incredible quality and is a must.  I recommend two that are waterproof, crush proof, dust proof, etc. They are a bit pricy, but if you can handle it,  well worth it.  
The OLYMPUS STYLUS TOUGH-8000, virtually indestructible, and of course waterproof.  12 MP with image stabilization and slim enough to fit in your pack's hip belt.
Get info at:  
It is the PENTAX Optio W80 which is one good waterproof option--they also say "freeze proof & crush proof" with 12 MP with 24-140mm zoom, and even video capability, etc. For more info click on: PENTAX Optio W80

For other less expensive, but good options go to GOOD CAMERA OPTIONS

A new wonderful photographic option is the SONY Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras.  seen below.  See prices at the above link.
They are not waterproof but have interchangeable lenes, and many qualities of professional cameras. including HD video and much more, and weigh 1/4th of what my Nikon D-200 does. To check it out in all its glory go to the SONY WEBSITE.   Prices are much higher than the prior point-and shoot cameras, but much cheaper than going to more professional cameras, like the Nikon D-300, D-700 etc. and much lighter.

I always take with me my tiny Grundig radio to listen to the news, a talk show, the weather report, and OF COURSE KSL OUTDOORS each Saturday morning from 6:00-8:00 to make sure Tim, Russ and Jeff  are ready for my call from the High Uintas.  See the best and smallest I've found so far at MINI RADIO
My OLYMPUS Digital Recorder (DS-30) is sort of a specialty item that perhaps only someone like me needs, but here it is.  I use it to record names and addresses of new "Uinta Friends," interesting stories and experiences, and even once a great recording of a pack of coyotes.  Of course I have some good things recorded to listen to:  Special music, and even an audio book or two.  See it and other options at  RECORDER
One last item I feel is a necessity:  READING MATERIAL
As seen below, for me it usually includes one National Geographic, one Outdoor Photographer (or more often than not a handful of special techniques articles I wrip out), and my tiny Military version of the scriptures.

1. COD LIVER OIL -- This  literally kept me from becoming an invalid at 45.  Check out my 30 years of experience described in the comments of my Allsop Lake 2009 trip at:  COD LIVER EXPERIENCE This is my preference that you can find at:   COD LIVER If you want to learn more about "The Cod Father--Dale Alexander" click on:  COD FATHER
2.  GLUCOSAMINE and CHONDROITIN plus MSM  - In addition to Cod liver oil, I daily take 4 capsules of this joint formula.  When there is added stress I take a couple more at noon, and another in the evening.  At the conclusion of my cod liver oil experience I mention this important supplement at  EXPERIENCE  For info go to GLUCO/CHOND/MSM  For other options go to OTHER OPTIONS
3.  WELLNESS FORMULA -- This wonderful formula is one of my multi-vitamins.  When one feels something is out of balance, you take 3 every 4 hours.  It will either keep you from getting sick, or speed your recovery.  For info click onWELLNESS  

4.  STRESS FORMULA - When under abnormal stress, due to work, or backpacking, I add this to my regimen as a multi-vitamin and feel it makes a difference.  You can get it at:  STRESS CARE
5.  COQ10 -- An ESSENTIAL SUPPLEMENT-- It is a vitamin-like compound also called ubiquinone.  It is an essential component of cells and is necessary for mitochondrial energy production. Years of research has shown that CoQ10 supports healthy cardiovascular and immune system functions in addition to its vital role in energy production.   I take one in the morning and one at noon--everyday.  For info click on:  COQ10   For other options:  OPTIONS
6.  For HIGH ALTITUDE SICKNESS -- As I have gotten older, usually after being sick, I began experiencing High Altitude Sickness.  To solve this problem I finally concluded I would try a combination of this supplement designed to boost oxygen levels, plus the normal medication for high altitude sickness--ACETAZOLAMID or DIAMOX--which alone hadn't worked, except to help me sleep. DIAMOX is a prescription medication. They worked and my last 2009 trip was successful, and I'm excited about a big 2010 season.  For information go to  CRYSTAL OXYGEN
7.  ENDUROX R4 -- I have used this recovery drink for years.  On the trail I take one drink half-way thru my hiking day,  and then a good dose at camp in the afternoon.  I always add to it Cal-Max (seen next), and Glutamine.  Studies with marathon runners show that the mineral lost most is calcium.  Also studies show that taking Glutamine after a race helps avoid sickness.  
For info click on:  ENDUROX
7.  Cal-Mag -- My favorite added to my ENDUROX for daytime recovery, and alone taken just before going to sleep,  helping me relax and sleep better. It will take care of Restless Leg Syndrome.  
 Remember CALCIUM is the mineral lost most by marathoners--backpackers too.
 For info click on: CAL-MAG
8.  GLUTAMINE -- One study reported in RUNNERS WORLD explains that marathon runners that take 5 mg. of GLUTAMINE  after a race have  a much reduced chance of getting sick--with  cold, flu or respiratory illness.  A backpacker doing 10 miles above 10,000 ft. with 40 lbs. on his or her  back needs this supplement for recovery.  It is tasteless. I mix it with my ENDUROX,  and/or GATORADE. 
 For info click on:  GLUTAMINE 
9.  GATORADE and ENDURANCE --  Regular GATORADE, seen on the left, can be purchased at your local supermarket.  For a more advanced product, GATORADE ENDURANCE, similar to ENDUROX, go to:  ENDURANCE  During the 2010 season I will try this compared to ENDUROX and report on the results.
10.  ENDUROX EXCEL -- This is one supplement with which I feel a positive benefit helping me be more alert and energized. Reports indicate that it can improve your output by 15%.   I take two tablets each morning when I'm going to have a hard work day, or when I'm going to be on the trail.  It's composition is vitamin E--an antioxidant that helps speed recovery,  and Ciwujia root known to extend endurance and bolster the immune system. 
 Click on:  EXCEL
11.  ENDUROX EXCEL REPLENISHER -- Endurox Excel--REPLENISHER is good to take during your workout, or on the trail.  Get info at REPLENISHER
12. ENDUROX ANTIOXIDANT REGENERATOR -- This is good to take towards the end of your hard day to get you to the finish line, and begin recovery.   Get info at:  REGENERATOR
13.  SPORT LEGS - This supplement is effective for runners, or backpackers as it supports optimal function of your lactate energy system, usually taken after exercise to minimize muscle soreness.  I will be experimenting with it during the upcoming season.  For info click on:  SPORT LEGS
14. After a tough day, I begin and end using marathoner's supplements to get me going and then to recover.  
Dee's Cereal, upper left,   soaking all night get's me going each day.   
 The FRS provides energy on the trail--promoted by Lance Armstrong.  
See a wide variety at FRS OPTIONS   
 I personally like the chews to use along the trail. 

15.  HGH (Human Growth Hormone Stimulator) -- I have used several different brands of this product, sometimes called HGH Stimulator, designed to aid the body's production of HGH.  This  diminishes with advancing age--actually helping to bring on the degeneration we call old age.  I am convinced this helps me in many ways.  It also helps one sleep better taken along with Cal-Mag at night.  
For info:  HUMAN GROWTH STIMULATOR   For other options click on:  HGH

16. I swear by this product.  If after a hard day on the trail you begin feeling cold symptoms, immediatelyy begin taking it If you get started in time, it will prevent the cold.  Otherwise, it will help you get better faster.  Get at your local pharmacy or supermarket. 
 WalMart has the best price in Springville, Utah--by about $4.00.

17.  REDMOND CLAY -- I go nowhere without Redmond Clay--which is a fine powder called "bentonite." It will solve any intestinal problems, and works as a healing agent for wounds, rashes & burns. You just take some of the powder in a Ziploc bag, and when you feel you need it, mix as a paste in a small plastic bottle. You then take a generous spoonful, and down it with water. For wounds, cover with Saran wrap or such. Learn more at:  REDMOND CLAY   You can get it at:  REDMOND CLAY- bentonite  For one of my many experiences with it go to:  EXPERIENCE NEAR CRATER LAKE
Backpacking is the only way to get here--so pack up and let's get going!