Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Backpacking Flyfisher's Checklist

  • back pack (You don't need pack by The North Face. You need the lightest pack you can find for the money.) 
  • hydration pack (CamelBak or similar)
  • sleeping pad (we recommend the Big Agnes)
  • sleeping bag (lighter weight in spring/summer, heavyweight in fall/winter)
  • camp pillow (Eureka makes a great one.)
  • hiking poles or staff (Mountainsmith for $13 ea. is all you need)
  • tent or bivvy sack (love my Mountainsmith 1-man Altura) 
  • camp stove (JetBoil type) to boil water
  • stove fuel 
  • 1 liter or 1-gallon clear empty vessel with lid for storing purified water
  • compact lantern/headlamp/flashlight (Cyclops is my fav)
  • extra batteries
  • hatchet (Gerber... nuff said)
  • camp shovel
  • WetFire tinder (stuff is amazing and burns even when wet)
  • flame source (lighter, waterproof matches, magnesium striker like what Bear Grylls uses)
  • toothbrush and paste (Like what Barely Grylls (me) uses)
  • biodegradable soap (Camp Suds)
  • knife 
  • spork or other eating utensils
  • mess kit
  • brightly-colored bandana (more uses than you could imagine)
  • fly rod setup (rod, reel, line)
  • flyboxes (lightweight foam boxes by Orvis or Morrell for backpacking are perfection)
  • vest, chest pack, whatever you use (I used the San Juan pack by Fishpond)
  • extra leader
  • tippet 
  • floatant
  • nippers
  • Thingamabobber
  • water purification method you prefer (I use tablets)
  • first aid kit
  • signal mirror
  • emergency pancho
  • emergency blanket
  • pain reliever, anti-inflamatory, fever reducer, allergy med, eye drops... 
  • TP and antibiotic wipes (unscented)
  • extra rope, lashing, paracord, straps, hooks, clips, etc
  • night glow sticks
  • bear bag 
  • extra Smartwool socks
  • under armour type thermals
  • wet shoes or wading boots 
  • neoprene socks
  • dry shoes or boots to hike in
  • zip lock bags to keep stuff dry
  • campfire pants
  • campfire hoodie or top 
  • fishing wading shorts/convertible pants
  • fly fishing shirt (color appropriate please)
  • rain jacket (We use cheap packable Anoraks by Gap Kids and Old Navy)
  • warm fleece or zip jacket (Kuhl makes amazing fleece)
  • trash bag for packing out 
  • bug repellent (Bullfrog )
  • SPF 35+ (unscented) 
  • polarized shades 
  • hat with a brim (my A-Mac trucker cap is all I need)
  • maps of the area (laminate them if possible for durability and waterproofing)
  • gps navigation if possible
  • compass
  • book you're reading at the time, survival handbook (I like taking my mini Tao Teh Ching)
  • plastic thermal coffee cup with lid (I clip mine to the outside of my pack)
  • coffee singles (Starbuck's Via's work great and quicker than anything else I've found)
  • hot chocolate/cocoa packs
  • camp food (cous cous, Idahoan mashed potato packs, backpacker ready-made meals, dry soup mixes, fresh pack tuna, oatmeal packets, nuts, energy bars, trail mix tortillas, dried pastas, seasonings for cooking fish over fire, crackers, beef jerky, Wylers bullion cubes, Snapdragon Pan-Asian Cuisine makes soups ready to go and come with a handy plastic bowl and lid. I tear off the label and throw it all in the bowl and it packs great)
  • hand sanitizer (unscented)
  • hand lotion (unscented)
  • needle and thread for repairing torn shirts, tent, or for giving your clumsy bud stitches
  • digital camera 
This is by no means a complete backpacking list, or fly fishing list. There is no such thing. You might like to take a hook sharpener, but I never use one. You might like waders... I hate them. Or you might be going in the dead of winter and you don't need a hat with a brim but you better take a parka and wool gloves and HeatPaks. Or, you might be a female and need a few products not mentioned on this list-- and I suggest you take some no matter if it's that time of the month or not. 

This is simply a guide to get you started... 95% there. And it's your personal quest to get your pack down to a bearable load -- say under 50lbs if possible. 65lbs maximum. I've gotten mine down to about 45lbs when headed out for 3 days 3 nights. 

In the beginning, you'll want to take way too much food. Take enough to live, and catch something with your rod if you're about to starve! And ladies, you'll want to take way too many clothes. I wear the same shorts all weekend. Why?  1.) Because I can.  2.) Out there I'm sleeping alone and I can smell however I please.  3.) Clothes take up space and I like taking luxuries like a good bottle of scotch rather than a pair of perfectly clean shorts for each day. 

Make sure you have the stuff YOU need. Go through your head and pretend you're about to string up the flyrod and fish a stream... Do you have everything? You're about to start a fire... Do you have everything? You gotta go #2... Do you have everything? You're about to cook a meal... Do you have everything? You're about to EAT a meal... Do you have everything? You're about to go to sleep... Do you have everything? 

Remember, bears sense of smell is amazing, and they love scented items like perfume, soaps, and anything that smells sweet or fruity. Bears have been known to tear into a tent just to dig out a single scented diaper. They can smell candy a mile away. They can smell you. Be smart. Pack unscented stuff.

More later!

About Mac

My photo

I am W. Chad McPhail. I'm an outdoor/travel writer, book author, former English teacher, and Amarillo native. 

I spend my spare time traipsing around the mountains and streams of the southwest in search of wild trout with my family, friends, various freeloaders, and other flotsam and jetsan. I used to teach English & Creative Writing. These days I am a Right of Way field agent with Coates Field Service, representing Sharyland Utilities during the construction of a 345 megawatt transmission line from Hereford to Panhandle, Texas. I love exploring the outdoors, fly fishing, backpacking, camping, hiking, kayaking, and yes, writing outdoor and travel books and pieces. I am a field writer of flyfishing, backpacking, camping, and kayaking articles for I have written many articles for magazines such as Southwest Fly Fishing, Texas Fish & Game, Rocky Mountain Game & Fish,, and more. I have co-penned three books with fishing buddy Mark D. Williams; Colorado Flyfishing: Where to Eat Sleep Fish, 49 Trout Streams of Southern Colorado, and An Introduction to Fly Fishing for Trout.