Friday, March 16, 2012

Bushcraft and Camping Gear and Tools

As promised, I finally got around to doing a post on the gear list for the trip I did between 2/18/12 and 2/20/12. Remember that this is just my gear list, and will not be right for everyone, nor will it be right for all weather conditions. You can see the post about the trip here.

Let’s start out with the big three.


Number one in the above picture is my backpack. It is a CFP 90 knockoff that I bought many years ago. It is durable, but heavy and not all that comfortable. I have been waiting to replace it until I have finalized all of my gear, but ten years later, I am still waiting, so I’m not sure when that will happen. I have cut off the side pockets, as the volume was just to high.

Number two in the picture is my shelter, the Go Lite Shangri-La 5 flysheet. It is one of the best purchases I have made in a long time. It provides good protection, but the open floor allows similar versatility to a tarp. I can get in with my shoes on, don’t have to worry about condensation as it does not pool at the bottom of the shelter, and I can cook inside on rainy days. It has performed well for me in all sorts of conditions. You can see it in the snow here.

The third item is my sleeping bag. It is the cold weather bag from an Army surplus MSS. It is a synthetic bag and is rated to –10F, although I have been cold in it in +10F.

Item Number Item Description Weight
1 CFP 90 Replica Backpack 5 lb 2.6 oz
2 Go Lite Shangri-La Tent 2 lb 15.2 oz
3-A MSS Black Sleeping Bag 4 lb 6.2 oz
3-B Seat to Summit Stuff Sack for Bag 4.7 oz

The next items are all components of the sleeping system.


The fourth item is the Thermarest NeoAir All Season sleeping pad. For a long time I stuck to closed cell foam pads because of their durability, but this pad is well worth the extra care. The All Season version provides a R value of 4.9, which is sufficient insulation for most winter camping without the need for additional pads. It also doesn’t use any insulation other than air, which prevents loss of insulation due to moisture.

Item number five is a Kooka Bay Kookalight pillow. I know a lot of people use their clothing for pillows, but I prefer this one. It is very light weight and packs up small. 

The sixth item is just a large trash bag that I have opened up. It’s there not to protect the pad, but rather to make sure the sleeping bag does not touch the ground. The pad is fairly narrow, so the bag can end up hanging over. The trash bag is large enough to prevent that.

Item Number Item Description Weight
4-A Thermarest NeoAir Four Season Pad 1 lb 5.6 oz
4-B NeoAir Repair Kit 0.5 oz
5 Kooka Bay Kookalight Pillow 1.2 oz
6 Plastic Bag 1.8 oz

Here you can see the packed up Shangri-La 5, the sleeping bag in the stuff sack and the packed up NeoAir with the Kookalight pillow and trash packed up inside the stuff sack. The above weight of the NeoAir pad includes the weight of the stuff sack.


This pretty much covers my larger items. All my other gear is shown in the picture below.


Number seven is a stuff sack that contain my extra clothing. Inside I have an extra pair of socks, my hat, scarf and gloves.

Number eight is my rain jacket. I am wearing all of my other clothing at the time of the picture. I will discuss the weight of the clothing in a separate article.

Number nine is two Nalgene bottles with neoprene insulative sleeves. I switched to the Nalgene bottles because the wide mouth is better at preventing total freezing during winter.

Number ten is a three liter Platypus bladder. I use it when I need extra water around camp or if I will be going through an area where I know water will be limited.


Item Number Item Description Weight
9-A Nalgene Bottle x 2 6.2 oz x 2
9-B Neoprene Sleeve 2.0 oz x 2
10 Platypus Bladder (3L) 1.7 oz

Number eleven is the MSR Miniworks EX water filter. It is in an insulative cover to keep it from freezing after use. I also have a repair kit in the cover. This is one of the heavier items of my kit, and for years I have been looking for a lighter method that would still provide the same protection and filtering ability. I think I have found something that I will look into shortly.


Item number Item Description Weight
11-A MSR Miniworks EX 1 lb 0.1 oz
11-B Repair Kit 0.7 oz
11-C Insulative Cover 3.5 oz
  Regular Cover (not used) 0.8 oz

Number twelve is a Kershaw folding saw.

Number thirteen is a older model Husqvarna hatchet. I find that unless I specifically plan on doing any serious woodwork, these two items are sufficient for the wood gathering and processing I tend to do, considering the rest of my gear.

Item Number Item Description Weight
12 Kershaw Folding Saw 6.2 oz
13 Husqvarna Hatchet 1 lb 11.6 oz

Number fourteen is the MSR Whisperlite International and the 22 oz fuel bottle. I have had this stove for many years and I love it. It is fairly heavy, but I have not found a lighter and better stove that will work during four season conditions. I brought more fuel than I needed because I like to have it in case of emergencies.


Item Number Item Description Weight
14-A MSR Whisperlite International 9.7 oz
14-B Stove Pump 2.3 oz
14-C Fuel Bottle 22 oz 7.1 oz
14-D Stuff Sack 0.8 oz
14-E Windscreen 1.4 oz
14-F Repair Kit 1.7 oz
14-G Alcohol Bottle for Priming (full) 2.3 oz

Number fifteen is my first aid kit. The kit contains one Quik Cloth sponge, which is used when there is very serious bleeding. There is a surgical dressing, also for serious bleeding, although not as severe as that for which the Quik Cloth would be used. The middle bag contains a small tin full of pills, a small bottle of Neosporin, several gauze packages, band aids which already contain antibiotic ointment, and some Molefoam. 


Item Number Item Description Weight
15 First Aid Kit 6.0 oz

Number sixteen is my miscellaneous items bag.


Item Number Item Description Weight
16-A Plastic Bag Containing:
Bottle of Liquid Soap
Toilet Paper

0.4 oz
1.2 oz
0.4 oz
16-B Compass 0.9 oz
16-C Mirror 0.6 oz
16-D Ferro Rod 0.9 oz
16-E Leatherman Juice 5.3 oz
16-F Gauge 1.3 oz
16-G Auger 0.7 oz
16-H Head Band for Flashlight 0.9 oz
16-I Extra Battery 0.4 oz
16-J Fenix LD10 Flashlight 2.2 oz
16-K DEET 0.8 oz
16-L Rope 5.0 oz
16-M Whistle 0.2 oz

Number seventeen is my Open Country 2qt aluminum pot. It has come to be one of my favorite items. Inside I keep a bandana and a small lighter.

Number eighteen is my plastic cup. It is a Trangia army issue cup. I have started using it instead of my metal cup because it is easier to handle in the cold. It holds about a cup and a half of liquid.

Number nineteen is my food bag. I have discussed it’s contents earlier. The only item worth mentioning is a long handle aluminum Sea to Summit spoon that I keep in there.


Item Number Item Description Weight
17-A Open Country 2 Qt Pot 7.7 oz
17-B BIC Lighter 0.4 oz
17-C Bandana 1.0 oz
18 Trangia Plastic Cup 2.4 oz
19-A Sea to Summit Spoon 0.4 oz

The only other gear I have with me is my pocket kit and my knife.


The pocket kit contains three Altoids Smalls tins. In one of them I have my repair items such as needles, string and duct tape. In the second tin I have some tinder (waxed jute) and waterproof matches, and in the third tin I have some water purification tablets (Chlorine Dioxide) and an assortment of pills. In the kit I also have a DC4 sharpening stone and a mini BIC lighter. The tins add a fair amount of weight, but they keep things well organized.

The knife is a Mora #2 in a leather sheath. I use the leather sheath not because I love leather, but because the regular plastic one simply would not keep the knife in place. 

Item Weight
Pocket Kit 6.7 oz
Knife with Sheath 4.1 oz

The last thing to consider is the consumable items. They are comprised of food, water, and fuel. The food I have discussed in detail earlier. You can see the post here. For water, I am using two quarts, representing two full Nalgene bottles. The fuel is the amount carried in the 22 oz fuel bottle.

Item Weight
Food for Three Days 3 lb 12 oz
Water (2 Qt) 4 lb
Fuel (White Gas) 12.6 oz

Taking all of the above into account, the base weight of my pack was 22 lb 14.4 oz. If I include the weight of my pocket kit and knife, the total weight would be 23 lb 9.2 oz. Together with the food, water and fuel, the total weight of my gear, not counting any clothing was 32 lb 1.8 oz.

There are a few obvious places where weight can be cut.

Shelter-I could certainly cut weight by using a tarp or a bivi instead of the Go Lite Shangri-La 5. However I’ve spent enough winter days and night in the woods to know that I greatly prefer the Shangri-La. The issue is not the nights. Once you are in the sleeping bag, a bivi or tarp does just fine. The problem is the time spent sitting in camp in the evenings. Being exposed to the wind during winter is not any fun. I find that this shelter provides good compromise between an enclosed space and the open feel of a tarp because of the open floor. I can do just about anything I can do under a tarp, but have the added wind protection. I find the extra weight worth it.

Backpack-This is an area where I could certainly cut weight. This is a pack I bought many years ago because it was cheap. Since then I have been waiting to finalize most of my gear (in particular the sleeping bag) before getting a new, lighter pack. Looks like I will have to wait a few more years.

Sleeping Bag-Just like with the backpack, I bought it because it was cheap. There are much lighter weight options available these day, but right now I don’t have the money for one. Other than the backpack, this is the last large item left to be replaced.

Stove-The MSR Whisperlite International is a fairly heavy stove. I have been looking for a lighter weight alternative, but have not been able to find anything significantly better. The problem is that I need a stove that can function down to about 0F. Canister mounted stoves, the ones that provide the most weight savings unfortunately don’t work well under about 20F. I can get a MSR Pocket Rocket that weighs 3 oz, but I don’t want to have to do any tricks to get it to work on a winter morning. Remote canister stoves will work down to about 0F, but the weight saving are not that great. For example, the MSR Windpro is a canister version of the white gas MSR Simmerlite. I could save a few ounces (mostly the weight of the bottle pump), but I don’t think it’s worth an extra $100 and the time to learn a new set up. After all, I’ve had this one for many years.

Filter-Pump operated water filters are heavy. There is no way around it. I have though about switching to chemical treatments, but they just take too long to work, especially during winter. I also still need a way to filter sediment from the water. Recently I found something which might be a lighter weight alternative. I will review it after a few field tests.

There are certainly other places where I could cut off a few ounces, but I think these are the big ones. Anyway, this is what I had with me on the trip.

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