What Do You Absolutely Need?

I’ve been searching the internet for information about ultralight backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags in case I ever decide to walk up the Pacific Coast. Apparently, the lightest weight for all those things combined is about five pounds. Which, since I am interested in walking rather than struggling along with heavy pack, is still too much weight considering everything else I would need to bring. I suppose it would be possible to forget the tent and just sleep under the stars, or rely on relatives of friends and online acquaintances for a place to California sunrisestay, but emergency shelter is still a good idea.

But let’s forget that for now. It seems to take way more planning than the spontaneous adventure I dream of. Let’s also forget food and water, and assume that whatever I need will appear when I need it. As ridiculous as that might sound, it’s quite logical, since the first month or so of walking up the coast would be rather urban — San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara.

And let’s not talk about clothes. That too seems to take more planning and research than I want to do, at least for now, though I am thinking something gaudy. Sometimes camouflage is good, but human hunters so often choose their prey from among those who won’t be missed, and I want to make sure I would be noticed and would be missed.

So, what besides sleeping accommodations, food, and water, and clothes do I really need? Emergency supplies, I suppose, such as bandaids and water purifying tablets. A phone. Maybe extra batteries for the phone. Camera. A sun hat. Bug repellent, though supposedly there are few mosquitoes near the ocean. Toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss. Lip balm. A bit of cream or lotion to keep my skin from chapping. Handkerchief. Toilet paper. Pee rag. Flashlight. A few pieces of duct tape. Treking poles. Pen. A small notebook. A flower or something frivolous for my hat or backpack to remind me that the trip is supposed to be fun.

Sheesh. That’s a whole backpack full of stuff right there!

If you were going off on some sort of adventure, what would you absolutely need to take along?


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

12 Responses to “What Do You Absolutely Need?”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I would probably add a friend or companion to the list.

  2. shadowoperator Says:

    Hi, Pat. I’m not sure from what you say about the urban part of the trek whether or not you mean the actual “Pacific Coast Trail” or not, but in any case an excellent primer to read about that particular experience (and all round good book in a literary sense too) is Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking there called “Wild.” I don’t know if you’ve heard of it or not. She overpacked and has much to say about it, but also missed packing some rather essential things. And her story of the people she met and the situations is both informative and just plain interesting. She mentions some guides that might be useful as well.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      No, I don’t mean the Pacific Coast Trail, though I did consider it at one time. I’m more interested in walking along the coastline. I think that would be a fabulous experience! I hope I gather the courage, strength, and foolhardiness to actually do it one day.

  3. Holly Bonville Says:

    As much as I can fit into my rig and still be somewhat comfortable. I’m having a hard time parting with all my stuff. 🙂 But I am getting there. I’m sure I am taking way too much, and there will be things that I have overlooked. I have had a long time to think about this and am getting very anxious to get things started.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Your trip — new lifestyle? — sounds fabulous. I bet you have a wonderful time and meet new people. You might even find what you are looking for.

  4. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Well, I’m about to go on an adventure of sorts. I’m pretty sure I’ve packed away everything I need. I just hope it’s not too much!

  5. samh Says:

    Here is what I bring along whether I’m hiking for two months or two days. That means I’ve ten pounds of gear on my back and five pounds of gear on my person. Add in two pounds of water on me at any given times plus 1.5 pounds of dry food per day and that’s it.

    bear spray
    ID, cash, credit card
    trekking poles
    socks (worn)
    socks (extra)
    socks (sleeping – optional)
    headnet (optional)
    hat (for sun)
    hat (for warmth)
    pants (hiking)
    pants (insulated – optional)
    gaiters (optional)
    shirt (hiking)
    shirt (warm – optional)
    jacket (insulated)
    jacket (rain and/or wind)
    fire striker
    water bottle (2nd optional)
    water treatment
    watch (optional)
    emergency blanket
    foot care
    lip balm
    safety pin
    pack liner
    bear rope
    bear bag
    odor-proof bags
    stuff sacks
    bivy (optional)
    sleeping pad
    sleeping bag
    tarp or tent

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      What a great list! It’s better than the ones I saw while researching this article. Thank you! I wonder if it would be possible to put more gear on my person and less on my back. Distribute the weight in a more natural way.

  6. Planning Sponteneity | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] What Do You Absolutely Need? […]

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