Tuesday, March 31, 2009


As of March 31, 2009, the day before I hit the trailhead.

Big Three = pack, shelter, sleeping bag
  • Go-Lite Women's Quest Internal Frame Backpack
  • Eddie Bauer pack rain-cover, saved from the old pack I threw out
  • Sleeping bag, Feathered Friends Hummingbird, gift from friend, double-wrapped in 2 garbage bags (down can't get wet)
  • Silky nylon sleeping-bag liner, homemade
  • Sleeping pad, Therma-Rest Women's Pro-Lite 3, secondhand
  • Auxiliary sleeping pad, 1.5 feet square, to go under hips -- this is rolled and lashed outside my pack
  • Eureka! Zephyr one-person tent, stakes, shock-cord poles, Tyvek ground cloth begged from a home construction site


  • Rain jacket and pants, Marmot Precip
  • Warm layer (running tights, fleece half-zip long-sleeved top, knit hat, fleece mittens, SmartWool socks)
  • Midweight layer (microfiber stirrup tights, short-sleeved wicking polyester tech top from Vermont City Marathon)
  • Basic hiking layer (Danskin running skirt w/ shorts cut out -- they rode up -- long-sleeved wicking polyester tech top from Gasparilla Marathon 2005, Barely There sport bra & undies, SmartWool socks
  • Sandals for camp and for creek crossings, lashed to outside of pack -- Wal-Mart Crocs knock-off, $5
  • Sleepwear (cotton yoga pants, long-sleeved silk shirt, fleece socks)
  • Down jacket, doubles as pillow (Browning, from Gander Mountain, $30 on sale from $100)
  • Mosquito/gnat head net
  • Ironman Florida Finisher cap
  • Extra pair SmartWool socks (3 total, plus sleep socks)
  • Short gaiters, Mountain Hardwear, to keep burrs, rocks, crud out of shoes


  • JetBoil backcountry cookset (gift from Carlene)
  • Fuel canister
  • Bic Flick lighter
  • Nylon spork
  • Stuff sack for food, handle rolls and clips so it can be hung from a bear-baffle cable
  • Peanut-butter jar for soaking dehydrated food from lunchtime till dinnertime
  • Cord for stringing up bear bag


  • 2 20-oz Gatorade bottles, carabiner'ed to outside of pack with "neck nooses"
  • 70-oz Camelbak bladder, rolled inside pack, for extra camp water and to serve as cold pack if needed (can't use it as intended for on-the-fly drinking 'cuz it won't fit in my pack when filled)
  • Clorox, in nasal spray bottle to measure by drops (4 drops per liter)


  • Toothbrush, handle cut in half
  • Dental floss, doubles as sewing thread for repairs; container discarded as extra weight
  • Cup for my stupid front-tooth "flipper" (the fake thing till I get my permanent crown)
  • Small comb (broke down and cut my hair short)
  • Ultralight plastic mirror, cut in half (for getting things out of eyes and checking for deer ticks)
  • Tweezers for tick and splinter removal
  • Disposable razor
  • Tiny bottle hand sanitizer
  • Pocket-pack Kleenex (toilet paper)
  • Handi-wipe -- 1/4 -- as "pee rag" -- rinse after use, hang on pack to dry till next use, replace weekly (yeah, "Ewwww..." unless you're into hiker lore)
  • No digging tool.... I'll arrive at an outfitter's after 4 days and if I decide I need a tool for diging catholes, as opposed to rocks, sticks, heels, I'll get one there
  • 1/4 bar Ivory soap, in mesh scrubbie bag
  • Bandanas -- 2 whole and 2 halves, for sweat rags, handkerchiefs, washcloths, towels, ties for lashing stuff to pack, etc., etc., etc.
  • Antiperspirant stick -- controversial among hikers but I hate wet pits -- in snack baggie, container discarded
  • Contact solution
  • Contact case
  • Extra pair contacts
  • Eye drops for overnight contact wear
  • Backup glasses in case injury or infection precludes contact wear
  • Earplugs for noisy shelters or whippoorwills
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • Lip balm (a dab doubles as hand/foot moisturizer)
  • Half small tube sunscreen
  • Nail clippers


  • Ibuprofen
  • Imodium
  • Benadryl
  • Epi-Pen (wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants) plus spare
  • Prescription to ward off nighttime panic attacks
  • Bactrim in case of bladder infection, to which I'm sometimes prone
  • Doxycycline in case of deer tick attachment
  • Skin-itch cream
  • Arnica gel for sore muscles, tendons (it really works)
  • Kinesio tape for tendons
  • Achilles night splints, 2 of 'em
  • Neosporin-To-Go, 2 packets
  • Few alcohol preps


  • Book of Psalms, torn from tiny pocket Bible
  • Irish whistle for playing music
  • Few sheets paper, pen
  • Sharpie marker so hikers can sign my pole
  • Driver's license
  • Insurance card
  • Prescription card
  • List of meds, emergency contact info
  • Bank card
  • Cash
  • Pen knife: cutting blade, nail file, tiny scissors
  • Watch (worn)
  • Headlamp (Petzl Tikkini)
  • Trail guide, current pages (future ones to be sent in mail drops)
  • 50 pages of a Dean Koontz book (future ones to be sent in mail drops)
  • Cell phone (will be turned off except when checking in w/ Steve and checking messages)
  • Digital camera (size of cassette tape) w/ extra battery & memory card
  • Chargers for both of these (charge when in town)

Believe it or not, all this plus food for 4.5 days (the .5 in case of emergency) and 20 oz water, weighed 27 pounds on the scale at the registration office. Twenty-seven pounds is a pack weight to be envied, from what I understand. Actually, it will probably come to 28, since my splints, phone, and camera were not in it when weighed.

And I think that's it. Let me know if I've forgotten anything or if this list has been helpful to you!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Here are the clothes I take on a backpacking trip.

Hiking skirt with boxer shorts underneath
Sport bra
Long-sleeve microfiber knit shirt; push sleeves up to create short-sleeve shirt
Bike gloves for better grip on hiking poles, protection in falls
Hat (I wear my Ironman Florida running hat)
Hiking shoes (duh)
ID tag around neck
Cross pendant around neck (never leave home without it)


  • Two pairs socks in addition to what I'm wearing. Alternate socks at each rest stop, hang previous ones on backpack to air and dry.
  • Fleece long-sleeve top
  • Acrylic cardigan (coupled with fleece top, makes a really warm duo)
  • Midweight tights (double as PJ's and long underwear)
  • Loose cotton yoga pants (yeah, cotton, feels good in camp)
  • T-shirt for camp and bed (I use a cotton one)
  • Extra pair of boxers -- for underwear and sleep
  • Gloves (nothing fancy.... acrylic knit, 2 prs. for $1.50 at Wal-Mart)
  • Knit hat (doubles as pot cozy)

And that's it. Except.... rain gear: does that count as clothing, or rain gear in a separate category? I have a really good rain jacket and pants. Not sure whether to take them on thru-hike or rely on a $4.95 poncho. Jacket and pants double as outer windproof layer. But so does poncho, especially if tied at waist, maybe with backpack belt. Always trying to cut down on extras....


Or just overnight. I've found that the gear is the same, except for food. Even if you just go overnight, you need:

Shelter (tent for me)
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Ground cloth (some feel this is unnecessary)
Food (never unnecessary)
Cooking gear (unnecessary for some lightweights who save the weight and eat cold food)
Extra clothes, especially socks
Rain gear
First-aid/gear-repair supplies
Hygiene supplies
Light source (headlamp, flashlight, whatever)
Sandals (to wear in camp, get out of those hiking shoes)
Water bottles
Water treatment
Hiking poles
Cell phone (which may not get signal)
Bug dope
Lip balm

Really.... you need ALL this stuff for overnight. Only difference between overnight and long hike is in the amount of food carried. For the AT, I'm figuring on about 5 days' worth at a time, to last me till the next resupply town/crossroads.

I should detail every aspect of my pack in a separate post, and probably will.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Ellie's Backpack List (a work in progress...)
Big garbage bag as waterproof liner & slick surface to slide stuff in
Extra garbage bag, ziplock bags, plastic grocery bags
Sleeping bag & liner
Pillow (minimalists will cringe; travel size, compresses flat)
Sleeping pad (softer surface & insulates you from cold ground)
Shelter (tent or tarp, tarp is more versatile, can rig as tent)
Groundcloth to go under tent (controversial to minimalists)
Clothing (list coming later )
Cookset & fuel (list coming later)
Food (list coming later)
Essential toiletries, medications (list coming later)
First Aid (list coming later)
"Murphy Kit" (for whatever can go wrong, will... repairs etc.) (list later)
Rain gear -- pants & jacket
Water bottle(s) & water container for camp
Sanitation kit (list coming later)
Sandals for camp wear and river crossings
Camera, extra batteries or charger
Flashlight, extra batteries
Cellphone & charger (I'm looking into a battery-operated charger)
Hiking poles (can carry a few lengths of duct tape wrapped around)
Pocket-size New Testament
Book (can be mailed ahead in sections to save carrying weight)
Pen & paper for journal

I may have left out things... this is just off the top of my head. Hopefully, the weight of this basic pack, not including food or water (called base weight) is under 30 pounds; ideally, under 25, since food and water are going to add up to 10 pounds. Total carrying weight over 35 pounds is too energy-sapping, but you want to have enough stuff that you're not using leaves to cover you at night!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Most of these items I took on my first iron-distance triathlon, ChesapeakeMan, 2005. My second time, IronMan Florida 2006, I added and subtracted lessons learned. The final result you see here includes some stuff I wished I'd had, mostly in my Run Special Needs Bag (the last half of that marathon was COLD!!)

Good luck, IronMen and Women!!

Here it is, folks:


What I'll wear to the race and need before start and after finish (sweats worn over tri-suit or swimsuit, warm wool socks, sock-friendly sandals, hairbrush)
Sunscreen on face only, until after body-marking
Race Swim cap
Goggles (already cleaned with anti-fog stuff)
Extra goggles
Energy food easily accessible (in case start is delayed b/c of weather or surf conditions)
Baby powder (helps my wetsuit slide on)
Protectant for exposed skin if jellyfish are present (Safe Sea is good)

Vinegar or Benadryl Spray if stung by jellyfish
2 hand towels (less cumbersome than one big towel)
Race belt and number
Bike shorts (if not worn under wetsuit)
Sport bra (if not worn under wetsuit)
Jersey (if not worn under wetsuit)
Baby powder to dry the last traces of dampness from feet
Bike shoes
Bike gloves
Spare contacts, small bottle of solution
Helmet (if not checked in with bike)

In jersey pockets:
Small sunscreen
Tube of Neosporin (for road rash; also a good skin lube)
Succeed capsules (salt)
Excedrin (pain reliever, mild anti-inflammatory, little hit of caffeine) Pepto-Bismol or Pepcid Complete
Epi-Pen (bees, fire ants)
Full gel flask

On bike (put on bike prior to check-in):
2 water bottles
2 CO2 cannisters duct-taped to seat post
Bandana tied to aerobars, long enough to reach nose w/o untying

Bento Box with: Foods of choice -- these are mine:
PayDay Bars cut in chunks
Fruit gumdrops
Cheese-filled Combos
String cheese already slightly opened (keeps unrefrigerated, don't worry)
Lip balm
Spare contacts
$10 – you never know…

In Saddlebag
2 tubes
3 more CO2 cannisters & nozzle thingie
2 tire levers
Multi-tool with Allen wrenches
Large Bandaids
Disinfectant wipes
Eyeglass wipes
Kleenex pack in case I have to make an unscheduled pit stop
Extra shoe cleat and screws (in baggie to find easily)
Extra handlebar end piece
Small flat pack of duct tape
Dollar bill - if you get a tire cut, fold in half lengthwise and insert into tire, it'll get you there if the cut's not more than about half an inch

BikeSpecial Needs Bag (all “loseable” stuff, since I won't use all of it)
Spare tube Spare CO2 cannister
2nd flask of gel
Refill on all Bento Box food, in baggie (just empty it in)
Dill pickle & juice in plastic spice bottle
V-8 juice
Bottle of Boost or can of Slim-Fast (I hate Ensure)
(Your nutritional needs will vary)

Run top if changing
Run shorts if changing
Underpants & sports bra if changing
HRM to assess whether I'm still alive in later miles
Change of socks (just in case)
Running shoes

Waist pack with:
Reflective tape on back and belt
Little tube of Vaseline
Salt capsules
Excedrin; Imodium; Pepto-Bismol or Pepcid Complete
Anti-nausea pills (Nauzene)
Gum to get the taste out of my mouth in case I throw up
Long-sleeved shirt (yeah, it fits in my waist pack)
Small, lightweight flashlight
Extra batteries for flashlight
Bug repellent wipes
Spare contacts (like I'm going to go through 3 pairs of contacts)
Gels etc. if not counting on what’s at aid stations
Hairbrush – to make myself beautiful in last mile for finish photo

Run Special Needs Bag ( all “losable” stuff)
2nd long-sleeved shirt
Long pants
V-8 Juice
Dill pickle in plastic spice bottle
(Your nutritional preferences will vary)