News, know-how, and opinion for the adventure conscious reader.


Character building. Ventana Wilderness, CA

Character building. Ventana Wilderness, CA

Gear.  We got a lot of it.  Some expeditions in history have relied on several tons of gear. Even overnight bags seem to fill up fast.  Self-reliance in the wilderness requires a number of essentials and many of us naturally bring a bunch of stuff we don’t need as well. 

But what happens when you forget something, something important?  Bail or improvise.  Here is a list of things you may forget to bring on your next adventure, ranked from most to least vital, and what to do if you leave them at home.  This isn’t Survival Man techniques for making fires with sticks and traps with vines.  This is for weekend warriors just trying to salvage Saturday.


As a teenager I had a goal of hiking Mt. Washington barefoot.  I don’t know where it came from and I definitely never tried.  The only trip I would recommend attempting barefoot today is one to the beach and even that can get dicey.  If you did bring camp shoes or sandals we’re getting somewhere.  Throw on some socks, sandals and back it up with some tape (medical, duct, whatever’s in the trunk). 


Let nature be your pantry.  Fish are ideal and wild onions regularly grow where streams flow into lakes.  Chanterelles are hard to misidentify and will flesh out a great trout dinner.  Indigenous Americans have been eating protein rich acorns for thousands of years.  The feds just opened up a ton of public land to hunting so if you’re walking heavy you should be just fine.  At worst, backtrack from the trailhead to the nearest fast food joint and order as much as you need.  The preservatives will keep everything edible for weeks. 


Technically those dehydrated camp meals are still edible as is.  Crunch on that for as many calories as you need.  If you’re at a campground you can bum a boil in exchange for a beer and some good karma.


Don’t look down.


An Iphone without service will still tell you Long/Lat and direction.  Take a screenshot of the compass app at the trailhead and a handful of times along the trail.  Take pictures of landmarks, observe the track of the sun and stay on well-marked trails.  Also, don’t get lost or run out of battery.  Hopefully you’re somewhere you’ve been before. 


You can’t start a fire with your vape pen so turn in early and get stoned in your tent.

Sleeping Bag

If you’re lucky enough to be near a hot spring you can pass out there and wake up warm and pruned.  If not, do jumping jacks and recite every song you know until morning.  Sliding into a backpack, especially a big one, has saved lives in unfortunate bivy situations.


Not really a necessity.  If it rains, make friends.

Bug Spray





It’ll be ok, man.  The mushrooms you thought were chanterelles may already be doing the trick.


These tips are not guaranteed to save your life. But they could (however unlikely) just save the weekend.