Your Outdoor Skills: What to Pack (part 2)
Don’t bring unnecessary gear. Our "What to Pack" series continues with tips on cooking, eating, water, and backcountry hygiene. Here are some of the essentials we recommend for anyone looking to explore the outdoors from a weekend getaway in the woods to a multi day backcountry trip.
You have a variety of options when it comes to camping stoves. Wood burning backpacking stoves are a great option for traveling to areas that offer natural fuel (sticks, twigs, leaves, etc). The Littlbug wood burning stove allows you to burn natural fuel, but if that isn’t available, you can also use an alcohol burner. Your Littlbug stove acts as a windshield and base for your pot. It also provides the ambiance of a fire, giving you the opportunity to enjoy dinner and a fire, without the extra energy and time required for a large campfire. Go one step further and practice Leave No Trace with Littlbug’s Fire Bowls.
White gas stoves are another option but require fuel canisters which take up valuable space and add weight to your pack. They work great in areas where natural fuel is scarce.
Make your cookware align with your meal preparation needs. Again, excess gear only adds weight. If you only need hot water to hydrate food or make coffee, bring a pot. But, traveling with a group may require more cookware, so talk through what you will need and how to distribute the weight amongst each other. This helps you from bringing unnecessary gear. Often, camping cookware comes in a set that packs into itself. These options are great space savers if you do need multiple pots and pans.
While food adds pounds quickly, the good news is the weight decreases as you eat. The type of food you bring is important for health and nutritional longevity while in the backcountry. Freeze dried meals are lightweight and easy to assemble. Countless varieties give you plenty of options to find your favorite meals. Granola bars, trail mixes, and dried fruit make for great snacks, and oatmeal makes a warm breakfast for chilly mornings. For longer trips, it is nice to treat yourself. Leave some room to pack your favorite candy bar or snack, but try to limit your treats to one per day.
Eating utensils can be as simple as a bowl and spoon. Think through your meals before deciding what to bring. If soup or oatmeal is a part of your menu, bring a bowl and leave the plate at home. A lot of camping stores sell lightweight, all-in-one fork, spoon, and/or knife, but simple cutlery does the job as well. Remember to clean your cookware and utensils after each meal.
Littlbug Tip: If you find yourself traveling solo, you can eliminate a bowl or plate by eating out of the pot you prepared your food in. Esther at Littlbug brings one 1½ cup mug on her solo trips. She uses it to boil water, eat breakfast, and drink coffee in the mornings.
Obtaining clean water in the backcountry can be difficult. A filtration system removes most bacteria from the water. Pump filters work great removing not only bacterial but also debris in the water however they also can get plugged. Gravity filters are nice for larger groups and clearer water. Iodine tablets kill the same bacteria as filters and take up less space and weight, but leave a taste behind and don’t filter out debris. We recommend trying them at home before using them in the backcountry.
Littlbug Tip: A handkerchief or other piece of cloth can be used to pre-filter soot or debris filled water. This helps your filter last longer and not get clogged as frequently. Kent at Littlbug prefers to use the Aqua Mira water treatment system which uses chlorine and doesn't have the drawbacks of iodine and never clogs! You can always resort to boiling water if your filter fails. With the Littlbug clean burning wood stove you don't have to worry about running out of fuel.
How you carry your water can depend on your adventure. For backpacking, a water bladder stored in your pack gives you easy access to water through a hose. A sturdy water bottle is sufficient for canoeing and kayaking. An ultralight option is to use a gallon size ziplock bag to store your water.
Littlbug Tip: If you use a water bladder, carry a spare as a backup. Water bladders may tear, spring a leak, or accidently get punctured. You can also repair small leaks with duct tape or Kent's favorite, Tenacious Tape.
When it comes to outdoor skills the more you bring along, the less you have to carry. Skills don't break and they're never left behind. They don’t leak, tear, and they don’t get wet! Enjoy the adventure.