And why do I take it?
Apart from my 2 Litre CamelBak Mule, which I carry with me whenever I go walkies, I take several pieces of equipment, along with various items of food, munchies and hot drinks.
But first, a word of explanation:
I started hiking and camping in 1975. It was around the same time I started rock climbing because I realised that in order to get to the best climbs in Hong Kong you often had to camp out overnight.
I became what is known as a ‘gear freak’. I spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, buying equipment, only to find that there was something better available on the market. As a result of which, I could go out into the wilderness, often solo, secure in the knowledge that I had the best equipment available to see me through any situation.
Today, I do shorter day hikes, but I still carry equipment that I know I can rely on in a bad case scenario. What do I mean by a ‘bad case scenario’?
In 1975 I met an English gentleman who I will refer to AJP. AJP was a professional, well educated, widely travelled, and he was a rock climber which endeared him to me from the outset. He was, at the time, the most impressive person I had ever met. There wasn’t an ounce of unwanted fat on him, and I rarely saw him lose his composure. He was, what I now refer to as an ‘evil genius’. What I mean by that is that he had long, extensive periods of total genius, interspersed by moments of abject stupidity.
One of these moments of abject stupidity occurred just after lunch one Sunday afternoon. AJP decided to climb Sunset Peak on Lantau. He left his apartment in the Mid Levels and took the Hong Kong Yau Ma Tei Ferry to Mui Wo (then known as Silver Mine Bay). Upon arrival, he made his way to the start of the walk and hiked up to the summit of Sunset Peak.
Ordinarily, this would have been a simple and enjoyable outing. Unfortunately, AJP took nothing with him, not even a bottle of water, and he was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and his footwear consisted of a pair of flip-flops!
He made his way to the summit in short order, being the fit person that he was, and spent some time exploring the area. At some point in time he realised that the afternoon was drawing in and that he should probably start down.
AJP did not wear a wrist watch. I remember asking him why he didn’t have one, it was not as if he couldn’t afford to buy one. He explained that he had a ‘bad karma’ with wristwatches and that the last one he owned fell off his wrist as he opened the window of his office. He worked on the 17th floor.
Seeing that it was getting late in the afternoon he started down. Unfortunately, one of his flip-flops broke. AJP hobbled on as best he could, but soon realised that he was not going to make it down to the main road before nightfall. He found a suitable rock on which to sit and waited out the night. The late season mosquitoes must have thought it was Christmas.
And this brings me to the purpose of this presentation. Imagine how much less uncomfortable his night would have been with just a few items of equipment. Let me show you what I carry with me in my CamelBak every time I go out.
Let’s consider the most important considerations:
Water – I have a CamelBak Mule with a 2 Litre capacity. For dire emergencies I also carry a Sawyer Mini Water Filtration Kit which allows me to extract drinkable water from streams or other sources which might otherwise be considered questionable.
Munchies – These mostly come down to personal choice. I carry a variety of snacks which I think might come in useful. I love chocolate, but in the warmer months it turns into a sticky mess.
The ability to provide a warm drink – I carry an Esbit Pocket Stove that uses fuel tablets. In a pinch, if you run out of fuel tablets you can also use twigs. I have packed it in a mess tin. I also have a pot holder, utensils and various means by which to light the fuel.
The mess tin, pocket stove, pot holder, lighter and fire steel.
So, how would any or all of this gear have made AJP’s night less uncomfortable?
He would have had water, or the ability to make a water source drinkable. He would have had ‘comfort foods’, something to boost his spirits, and he would have had the ability to provide himself with a hot drink or a quick meal (when you are hungry even the humble instant noodle goes a long way to improving your outlook on life). Of course, if he’d had the sense to wear decent footwear I wouldn’t be telling you this story now.
Apart from the weight of the 2 litres of water in the CamelBak this equipment weighs less than 5 kg and the potential benefits of carrying it far outweigh the inconvenience of the weight.
I hope you have found this useful and informative, and in case you are wondering, no, I do not receive commission from any of the suppliers mentioned. I am, however, happy to recommend equipment and suppliers that I have found to be of value and assistance.
Enjoy the outdoors, and be safe. It doesn’t take much to make your next day hike a safe and enjoyable one!