Clothing And Equipment

In packing for a wilderness trip, it's a simple matter of take it or leave it. The idea is to take what you need and to leave the rest at home. With thousands of choices widely available in outdoor clothing and equipment, it's no longer a question of how to find what you need, but rather of limiting your load to just the items that will keep you safe, dry, and comfortable.

To strike a balance between too much and too little, monitor what you take with you. After each trip determine what was used, what was really needed for a margin of safety, and what was not needed. As you buy equipment, go for lightweight alternatives if the weight reduction does not jeopardize the item's performance and durability. Whenever possible, look for versatile equipment you can use for several purposes.

If you're new to mountaineering, you don't have the experience yet to know what works best for you. So don't buy all your basic gear right away. Take it one trip at a time, one purchase at a time. Whether it's boots, packs, or sleeping bags, wait until you have enough experience to make intelligent decisions before spending your money. Rent, borrow, or improvise during your early outings until you learn what you need and what you don't need. Get advice by talking to seasoned hikers and climbers, by window-shopping at outdoors stores, and by reading mountaineering magazines.

This chapter is one useful source of information on basic wilderness gear, including guidelines on what constitutes good equipment. It won't tell you what brands to purchase, but it will help you find high-quality items among those thousands of choices.

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