- Equipment List for a Local Day Hike
- Equipment List for a Day Paddle
- Winter Backpacking
- Bear Advice from Wildlife Experts
This list contains the minimum that you should carry on a hike based on time of year and weather forecast. The guide carries a first aid kit and provides a map copy for each participant. One of the most difficult considerations is WHAT CAN YOU DO WITHOUT? If you have questions or concerns about what to wear or bring, call AFW at 973-644-3592.
- Hiking boots are required for all hikes
- One quart water minimum, in an unbreakable, leak-free container.
- Lunch - include fresh fruits and veggies
- Rain jacket
- Wind breaker
- Extra sweater/sweatshirt
- Extra socks - wool or synthetic
Hot Weather, add
- More water - Two QUARTS total
Cold Weather, add
- Brimmed hat or visor
- Hat - wool or synthetic
- Microspikes or Stablicers
- Thermos with hot drink or soup
- Socks - avoid 100% cotton. Use wool or a fiber that wicks away moisture. Feet sweat a lot! Some people wear two pairs of socks - a thin pair covered with a thick one. Theoretically this helps avoid blisters. Only use 2 pairs if you have room to wiggle your toes once your boots are tied.
- Hiking boots - required for all hikes.
- Bandana - has 101 uses!
- Layers of clothes: Start with a tee shirt or tank top, add a long sleeved shirt, then a sweater or sweatshirt.
- AVOID 100% cotton shirts and jeans. A bit of polyester mixed with cotton helps the fabric dry faster.
- Hiking poles
- Sun screen
- Bug repellant
- Comfy shoes, dry clothes left in the car
Carry name of emergency contact, ID, and wallet with you (don't leave in the car). If you are allergic to bug bites, carry the antidote and inform the guide.
- A properly fitted PFD -- personal flotation device (life jacket) -- (we will supply or bring your own).
- Complete change of clothes in a waterproof bag*.
- One quart water minimum in unbreakable container.
- Lunch and/or snacks in waterproof container.
- Secure place for car keys (zipped pocket of clothing, waist pack, etc.).
- Carabiners** (or “biners” pronounced beaners) – used to attach gear to boat.
Suggested Clothing and Extras
- CLOTHING – dress in layers according to the weather. Synthetics are the best materials for paddling clothing. You want something that will dry quickly.
- FOOTWEAR should be sturdy. Wear water shoes/sandals if you have them, or an old pair of sneakers.
- HAT or VISOR
- SUNGLASSES (with a keeper to prevent loss)
- RAIN JACKET, GLOVES
- BINOCULARS, CAMERAS! There is much to see and many photos to take.
- SUNSCREEN (AND USE IT!!). All paddlers get direct sun and reflections off the water.
- INSECT REPELLENT. Mosquitoes are never a problem, but gnats & midges can be annoying.
- SEAT CUSHION for extra comfort.
If you are planning to do more than one kayaking trip, a dry bag and some carabiners are a worthwhile and inexpensive investment.
*Waterproof bags are available at all outdoor stores. Called “dry bags” by various manufacturers, a good size would be 10 lbs. They have waterproof seals, are translucent, and have roll-down tops. A small one like this would hold a complete set of clothing plus lunch. We will try to have extras available.
**Carabiners come in assorted colors and sizes and are generally made of aluminum. They are used to attach your dry bag, water bottle, etc. to your boat.
Winter backpacking is cold, there’s no way around it, but you don’t have to freeze or be uncomfortable. With a little extra planning and equipment it can be an amazing experience.
For our purposes, that is backpacking with AFW, any 3 season tent will do. The reason is, we don’t go if bad weather is predicted. We prefer to stay in the shelters in the winter but carry tents just in case someone else is there. As long as you can stake your tent down securely, or tie it to surrounding trees or rocks, you’ll be fine. Of course, that means bringing a little extra light weight rope, like you would use for your bear bag.
This is where you cannot skimp. For winter backpacking you will need a zero degree or lower bag. However, if you have a 20-30 degree bag you can boost its rating by using a thicker fleece lining (not silk, it doesn’t boost the rating more than 5 degrees). You can also wear all your clothes to bed or even wear rain pants and jacket to maintain your heat. You can also use a lightweight summer bag (50 degrees) coupled with a 20 degree bag. (I have 2 for borrowing.)
I personally like down bags, they’re lighter for the same warmth. But down does have one major drawback for our purposes. If you turn over with your bag you will now have a cold spot where the down has been compressed under you. It will fluff up but until it does you will feel some cold. The answer is to roll in your bag.
Also, bringing the mega hand warmers to place in your bag definitely helps keep you warm. You can also boil water and place the hot water in your Nalgene in your bag.
This is the second thing you cannot skimp on. The cold ground will suck away all your warmth. You will need to bring 2 closed foam pads to sleep on. If you have an inflatable mat you will need your mat plus a closed foam pad. There are some pads with an R rating down to zero and below and they can be used alone.
The only fuel that works really well in the winter is white gas. These stoves have a learning curve and I have never used one. I can tell you that the Esbit stove and alcohol stoves do not work in the cold. I use my Jetboil stove in the winter but keep the fuel canister in an inside pocket in my vest to warm up before using and inside my sleeping bag during the night. But for the most part we try to use wood fires in the shelters for cooking, esp. dinner.
Water and Filters
Filters do not work below freezing. Chemicals work but a little slower. Steripens work as long as there is no ice in the water. Most of the time we bring enough water for drinking and boil gathered water for cooking. You can also gather water, warm it a little and then use your filter (if you have kept the filter warm near your body) or chemicals.
The best is if there’s snow on the ground. Gather clean snow, melt and drink. No sterilizing needed. However, this does use a lot of fuel and is slow. It takes a lot of snow to make a little water.
This is the time of year when you carry the heavier Nalgene bottles because you must keep your water in your sleeping bag at night to keep it from freezing and you DO NOT want it to leak!
Speaking of your sleeping bag again, EVERYTHING goes in your sleeping bag at night. All your clothes, your boots (bring those thin plastic shopping bags), water, fuel, even your baby wipes if you use them. I usually put all my clothes under me, adding to the ground insulation barrier.
Think hot and higher in fat. Digesting fat takes more work for your body thereby generating heat. This is also the only time you’ll hear it’s ok to bring food in your tent. If you get cold a night have an energy bar to eat. It does help.
OK, so there’s nothing worse than having to get up at night, in the cold, to use the facilities. However, you will be cold if you “hold it.” Your body is expending a lot of heat to keep your urine warm. Make a quick run, remembering to keep your bag closed while you’re gone. You’ll be much more comfortable.
By now you’ve all hiked in the winter and know what keeps you warm. However, in camp you will need something extra. Using rain pants and jacket helps to keep the heat in. I have thick fleece sweat pants and a light weight down jacket. Bring extra dry socks and maybe warm booties. Also bring a small piece of closed foam pad to sit on and an extra piece to put under your feet. Remember a hat and gloves. Actually, I bring mittens and glove liners; I also have a pair of mittens that the finger part folds back so your fingers are free. In both the mittens I put hand warmers, which help especially in the morning. If you tend to sweat a lot hiking definitely bring an extra base layer. One thing you DO NOT want to be in the winter is damp.
Night comes early in the winter. You’re setting up and eating dinner usually before 5. That makes for a long night. Remember to bring your headlamp and a book to read. Also, a little exercise before turning in helps to keep you warm.
This is the only time the cold really bothers me and that’s because you haven’t warmed up your body with exercise. This is when the hand warmers and toe warmers really come in handy. Here again, a little exercise first thing helps to warm you up.
If anyone is interested in winter backpacking please let AFW know, or email Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to put it on the winter schedule.
Read this informative article, " Know the Bear Facts - Black Bears in NJ", from the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.