Full disclosure, this list is sort of a moving target. Balancing my adventurous side to bring less vs. my sensible side to mitigate my risk is not easy. By definition, most of this category is a list of things you never WANT to use, but may NEED in moments of discomfort – or worse, crisis. To be honest, battling out these wants and needs feels like your typical angel vs. devil cartoon narrative. For example, here’s a conversation I had with myself just yesterday…
Devil: First aid is for babies and weenies
Angel: You need to pack a CVS Pharmacy!
Devil: No you don’t, 95% of the time you can cure it with water and a band-aid
Angel: But what if you have an asthma attack? Lose a toenail? Get the flu? We must medicate for every contingency!!
Devil: If anything happens, you can use extreme willpower to overcome it
Angel: You can’t will away Lyme Disease!
Devil: You are superhuman. NOTHING CAN SLOW YOU DOWN!
Angel: You are 36 years old and a head cold last week turned you into a bedridden baby for 3 days straight
Devil: … *poof* (disappears from embarrassment)
Ok, so you get the point. This narrative of what COULD go wrong can easily lead you down many a path of medication and medical supplies to include. But no, you do not need to carry an EMT Trauma Kit. With this kind of backpacking trip, you only need to include items that will a) be used daily, or b) prevent and treat the things most likely to happen daily. This packing strategy goes towards all the “what if” categories – toiletries, health, meds, and gear repair/maintenance.
And before you freak out, just remember: I’ll have cell service on nearly 100% of this trail, I am 1 day or 2 from emergency care at any point in time, and proper preventative care will minimize reactive needs (e.g. check for ticks!). Of course, that being said, I still have a mother and a wife to answer to, so some promises had to be made. Hello Neiman!
This one week supply health and wellness kit weighs 1 pound. Way heavier than I’d like it to be, but oh well.
- Stuff Sack – Everything fits nice and snug in a small 2.5L (orange) Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil bag.
- Toothbrush – Travel size plastic toothbrush
- Toothpaste – Travel size Crest toothpaste
- Soap/Shampoo – 2 oz. Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap. Face, body, hair, food, dishes, laundry, it does everything. Safety Fact: get the unscented, even aromatic soap can attract unwanted animals.
- Sunscreen – 1 oz. Banana Boat Sport SPF 30. This trail is mostly canopy covered, but sunscreen is still a preventative care item you are better to use often than to suffer the consequences.
- Dental Floss – Travel size non-waxed floss. Fun Fact – it doubles as thread for sewing!
- Anti Chafe Balm – 0.5 oz Body Glide balm. May sound like a luxury item, but better to lube up those inner thighs before 10 hours of walking than anguish in the pain after.
- Leukotape – Mole Skin has been knocked off its pedestal as the formidable blister care product. This non-stretch sports tape is lightweight and super long lasting after application, making it the best preemptive treatment for long distance walking. Simply put a strip over a hot spot and you are done. I once left a piece on for a week straight, with daily showers. 3 ft of this super durable stuff!
- Duct Tape – 3 ft of the all-in-one answer to body/fabric/gear repair needs.
- Bug Spray – Ben’s 100 Max Formula 95% DEET. Spray a small dab on clothes, NOT skin.
- Repair Kit – 1 garbage bag, 3 ziploc bags, 3 rubber bands, 4 safety pins, 4 paper clips, needle and thread, 2 buttons, 2 LineLoc 3 Guy Line Adjusters, 2 tiny cord locks, 2 tiny carabiners, 50ft of spare dyneema chord.
- First Aid Kit – 3 bandaids, 2 small gauze pads, 2 antibiotic ointments, 2 hydrocortisone creams, 2 alcohol wipes, tiny bottle of burn treatment gel, 1 nail clipper.
- Med Kit – For most, this is a handful of Vitamin I (Ibuprofen), but allergies are cause for more. And here’s where I also appease the gods family: Pillbox with 1 week supply of Ibuprofen, Zyrtec, Prednisone, and Lyme Disease antibiotic. Also 1 Ventolin inhaler (being allergic to down is not ideal for a good night’s sleep).
- Wet Wipes (dry) – These Wysi Wipes are great for anything. Just add water and they expand to a large hand wipe ready for use. Biodegradable, unscented, and reusable, they make for great sponge baths, dishcloths, and more. 6 at a time.
- Toilet Paper – A full role with the cardboard insert removed, stored in a ziploc bag