My dad, brother, oldest son and 3 nephews are getting ready to go on a 3 day backpack trip in about 5 weeks. As we are preparing, I am trying to decide what we will need. Below are the items I have decided on so far.

1. 3000 cubic inch backpack

2. Sleeping bag that compresses to a small size and weighs less than 4 lbs.

3. Knife, of course. The one I am taking has a fire starter, sharpener, hammer and emergency whistle.

4. First aid kit

5. Mini water filtration kit


7. Dehydrated food

8. Small fishing kit.

Keep in mind, we are planning everything we use during the whole trip.

Let's hear your suggestions for other necessities.

I plan to take a small camera and will share the experience with you all.

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Yes, we want to see pictures.

I am definitely not a backpacking guru but these are just some of the things I would do.

The knife is a necessity.  A good big sturdy locking folder or a good fixed blade.  I would probably take my Rough Rider Sidewinder, the one I cut down the 2" thick tree with.  Its heft and 5" blade should handle just about any task required of it.  But also a good item to have would be a small pack hatchet.  I proved I could cut down a 2" tree with the RR but a small hatchet would have made a much easier and quicker job of it.  Also would have been easier on the hand!

I would make sure every person has a signalling whistle.  If any member of the group gets lost or just separated a whistle can be heard for quite a distance.  I would also make sure each person has  a signalling mirror.  The flash from a mirror can be seen for miles.  A blank CD makes an excellent mirror and is small, light, and inexpensive.

Another thing I would definitely have is a firearm.  Depending on how important weight is and what I might expect to encounter, it might be any one of my guns starting with my S&W Model 317 Airlite .22 revolver.  It is an 8 shot 3" barrel revolver with good adjustable sights.  A box of 50 rounds for it would only take up about 2 of those 3000 cubic inches.  Up from there would be my Ruger LCP .380, my .38 Airweight snub, my 9 mm, or even my .45.

Especially if you will be hiking all three days, everyone needs a GOOD pair of hiking boots.  Otherwise there will be some sore, blistered feet.

Another consideration that comes to mind is, are there bears in the area you will be hiking in?  If so bear spray would be advisable.  A tactic I have read about is wearing a small bell so that it jingles as you walk.  Most bear attacks occur when you come into close contact with the bear unexpected by you and the bear.  If you make noise while walking, the bear will usually avoid contact with a human.

The longer I sit here, the more I think of.  You didn't mention a compass.  If you will be in a National Forest or Park, there should be maps available.  I would also have some small LED flashlights.  Obviously any medicine that anyone takes.  And I would put in some aspirin.  Sunburn lotion?  Insect repellent?  Hiking staff?  Extra socks?  Hat or cap?  Butane lighter?

I don't know the details of what you are planning but these are just some suggestions that might or might not be applicable to your expedition.  And remember this advise is worth exactly what it cost you!

Charles - Thank you for your input. You are correct about the GOOD pair of hiking boots. That is where I plan to spend the most money. I am planning on taking my 9 mm. I don't believe there will be any bears where we are going (Southern Ohio) but I do know they have been migrating North. We should have plenty of noise to warn them that we are coming. if there are any, with my 3 nephews (7, 9 and 11) and my son, who's mouth never stops. LOL  The compass, extra clothes and flash light are certainly some items we are planning on taking as well. The mirror is one item we had not talked about but I will make sure we have some now. I will try to get a pic today, of the items I have accumulated, so far.

You have a good list, Jeremy, and Charles made some good suggestions.  I didn't see a tent on the list, but I will assume it is a given. Regardless, mil. poncho/shelter half will do, or build makeshift lean-to.

1. Take reading material in case rain keeps you cooped up during your trek, and it's pretty good fire starting material.

2. All of the first aid kits I have seen, which doesn't mean I have seen them all, have terrible scissors.  Sharpen em up before the trip.  Even the cheapo scissors that come with commercial first aid kits can be made sharp and useful.

3. If you have a military surplus store near where you live, you might be able to find old surplus wound dressing packets pretty cheaply - frequently in their own canvas pouch with hooks for a web belt.  They are thick gauze pads with gauze ties to secure the pads.  Bandaids and the little gauze pads that come with the standard first aid kits won't do for a serious puncture wound or serious cut. 

4. Make sure your first aid kit has Polysporin or other broad spectrum antibiotic ointment- (unguent for the old-timers reading this).

Oops, forgot to mention Duct Tape.  A whole roll is too much to carry, so wrap some around whatever is suitable in your backpack.  If all the hikers take some, you will probably have enough.

so far it sounds like your getting very well set up!  Cant wait to hear about this trip, it will be something for the boys to always remember.  Three generations and nature....sounds like fun!

Howard (unguent for the old-timers reading this).  LOL, have not heard that term in years but sure do know what it is

Here are the smaller items that I am planning on taking with me so far. One of the things to take into consideration is, we need to watch that we don't put too much weight into the packs we carry. I want to try to keep my pack under 30 lbs. if possible. 

You may need a tent or tarp. Some sort of shelter. Down here a bug net might be handy. Keep us posted on your trip. Sounds like fun. Here in south Louisiana, it is very hot and hard to do many outdoor activities.

There were things we used to carry.   Some are for emergencies, other are just need to have!  However, what you pack should be determined by how far in the wilderness are you going and what the expected climate terrain will be.  Below are some general guidelines of things to consider.

As for the first aid kit, I'm not sure what you mean by "first aid kit".  What is in it? does it have a sling for a broken arm, large bandage for big wounds.  Any items such as  Quick-clot (a blood clotting bandgage to stop profuse bleeding)or is it a box of band-ads and some iodine?   

Does it include Tylenol  Something to ease the pain of insect bites/ poison ivy?  Does anyone have allergies?  Have they been considered. Will everyone have a small aid kit with a larger aid kit available for big emergencies?  

You should be wearing long sleeve shirts and trousers, boots, and a hat even in hot climates Sleeves can be rolled up and trousers can be light weight.  Avoid jeans.  They cause unnecessary chaffing and get heavy when wet!

Spare Trousers (not shorts)

Spare Long sleeved shirts (they can be rolled up)

Spare Hat with a brim

Gloves (you don't always need to wear them but thorns and poison ivy say you'll wish you had them if you don't!)

Sun glasses

Change of boots (tell me you’re not wearing gym shoes!)

Three changes Underwear (minimum)

6 pairs of sock (minimum)

baby powder

foot spray

Um Jock spray

A fixed blade knife

A Swiss army knife or multi-tool (with a saw blade and scissors)

Roll of electrical or friction tape

Sewing kit

Insect repellent

sun tan lotion

Toilet paper

Light jacket


Flare pistol (if legal)

Flashlight (all should carry the same kind)

Spare batteries (if everyone uses the same devices, you can reduce the number of spare batteries)

Water proof storage bags.

Grease pencils ( they call them "peel off china markers" these days)

Other writing utensils.


Matches, lighters

Two Towels

Rubber bands or better yet, elastic blousing garters (for securing items and preventing ticks crawling inside your pants!)


Maybe one of those portable safety horns


Map of area

GPS device other than cell phone

Small tent

pad for sleeping bag

sleeping bag

Deck of  PLASTIC Water proof playing cards. (for fun and also useful for leaving emergency messages or marking a trail.  You can leave messages using the grease pencils.)

Spare boot laces.

Socks should be changed every 8 hours if hiking.  You don't want to hike in wet boots or socks.  Underwear should be changed at least every 24 hours.  Sweating causes chafing.  Chafing causes blisters or friction burns.  Blisters cause misery.

Nice to have:  Consider a fishing vest or someo ther type of lightweight vest with lots of pockets.  You can store critical items you always need on the vest and not have to dig them out of your ruck sack all the time.

Cargo pockets on trousers are nice but the stuff in the pockets can get heavy. You're better off keeping most of the weight distributed above the waist line.  When hiking, strapping a pound to your leg is about the same as putting 10 pounds on your shoulders.   Keep most of your load on your shoulders not around your waist! 

When I was in the army about the only thing the cargo pockets on BDUs  were used for was for dirty socks, your hat, gloves a map and empty M16 magazines.  All the weight was carried up high.  You live, you learn.

Hope this helps

Great list, Tobias.   Hahaha, only military guys have two pairs of boots, and only because they are issued 2 pair.  Well, serious hikers/backpackers have two pair, but at $$$ per pair of good boots, I doubt if the occasional hiker buys two pair.

If you don't have two pair of boots, then bring along a pair of sneakers to wear in the evening or in the camp after you're done walking for the day.  You want to give your boots time to breathe and dry out.

Thank you all for the input so far. Lots of great advice and very helpful info. Believe me, I want to make the most of this trip and enjoy it as well. One of the things I have heard the most, so far is, sore feet will make this a miserable trip. All of the items and helpful tips will be considered and used to the best of my ability. Keep the great ideas coming. Tobias, sounds like you have had a little (or a lot) of experience. I wish I had more money to invest in this.

In the infantry, you do a lot of walking.  Been out a long, long time but never stopped walking/hiking.  I do it as much as I can but haven't done a three day in a very long time.  But some things you never forget.   Which reminds me.  Don't forget the Moleskin and Absorbine Jr.   moleskin for blisters and Absorbine jr (or other topical pain liniment) for sore and aching muscles.  Even if you're in good shape, you may be working muscles you haven't worked before.

Keep you back pack snug, your boots laced and bring along a good walking stick -- especially if covering uneven ground.


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