Sleep In The Dirt

Campfire Chronicles: A Backpacker’s Guide to Comfort

The Campfire Chronicles

By Nikki Flamio (Customer Service)

Every hiker or backpacker has a perception of comfort, need, and functionality that includes a very intimate list of gear which goes into their pack before they hit the trail. First on my list: my dogs, all three of them, no exception. For more realistic people these items range from the day hiker who brings the necessities, to the ‘Lovers of Comfort’ who bring everything but the kitchen sink – and even that sometimes. I’ve thought about this a lot and have classified items into four different groups. Each group collaborates with the next to reach the ultimate comfort in the backcountry:

Basic Survival – Essential items, and bare necessities, to sustain human life – food, shelter, and water (emergency/must-haves that day hikers usually carry).

Roughin’ It – Collaborative with Basic Survival — ideal items to maintain comfort and elevate spirits (the ever Boy Scout ‘prepared for anything,’ or the day-hike-turned-into-the-unintended overnight).

Lifestyle – This one is where most avid backpackers fall into – Includes the previous groups plus some luxuries that means you’re well adapted to this ‘lifestyle’ and you make it look good. (The weekend warrior: camping-gear box at the ready).

For the Lover of Comfort – The ‘glampers’ of the backpacking world. Their comfort level and willingness to carry the extras of creature comforts is unparalleled.

I consider myself one of the life-stylists: I carry what I like and take weight and comfort into serious consideration. Nothing extra is ever packed (unless I can fit in into the dog’s packs). Everything pictured on my table is in my pack for each and every trip I’ve been on (style of tent and amount of layers may vary with the season.

The Gear:

Two Dog Packs – I told you, first and foremost, no exception. The dog packs hold dog food, dehydrated meals, snacks, river shoes, and basically anything that can get wet when and if we hit rivers and streams.

First Aid – do NOT, I repeat, do NOT go into the wilderness without some sort of first aid. When you least expect it an injury or event can occur that can turn a simple hike into a devastating experience. The items in my kit include basic first-aid supplies: Band-Aids, gauze, shears, antibiotic ointment, Benadryl, Afterbite, aspirin, extra Ziploc bags, knife, matches, sunscreen, bug spray, and space blanket. Even on a day hike I carry my water purifier. Toilet paper—always. Just bring a few sheets. You’ll thank me later.

Rain Jacket – This balances on the line from Basic Survival to Roughin’ It. Necessary to survive? No. I would bet that most hikers have one in their pack though. So it’s going into the Basic Survival category.

Layers – It is summer time, but let’s face it – in the mountains warmth at night is not guaranteed. I ALWAYS carry long johns, down jacket, extra socks, and a beanie of sorts.

Meal Time – Jet Boil – I prefer the MiniMo, I mean who doesn’t love a good simmer. Inevitable snacks include Wasabi Soy Sauce Almonds/pre-shelled pistachios, and an assortment of Honey Stinger Chews and snack bars.

Tent – I’ve chosen my Foidel Canyon due to its versatile nature. I’ve slept in this guy in the middle of summer and on a February winter campout. In summer I do tend to bring my Copper Spur UL 2 mtnGLO tent.

Bedtime HeavenMystic UL 15 sleeping bag – weighs in at 2lbs 5oz, and rated down to 15 degrees is my go-to summer bag here in the Colorado mountains. My Q Core SLX sleeping pad is a dream to sleep on! Pillow – Sleeping Giant Pillow kit: This baby has an inflatable pillow with a memory foam insert for extra comfort. We’ll throw the head lamp in here as well.

The fun items – Fishing rod and flies, deck of cards, and camp shoes. This is why the Lifestyle campers are in this category. If you’re not concerned about weight then a book is another option. And, who likes staying in their boots all day? I sure don’t, so a good pair of camp shoes/slippers (I use these on my mountaineering treks) or river shoes do the trick.

For the Lovers of Comfort – The luxurious items that I refuse to carry, but envy those who do and will be sure to steal when they get up. Some of these items include but are certainly not limited to:

Camp Furniture – Camp Chairs (let it be the lightweight Helinox chair or a stadium) and camp table.

Whole vegetables (I’m talking potatoes, peppers, corn on the cob), the four quarts of chili with a five-quart pot, and REAL coffee—the kind you press.

Solar panels with charging stations.

Changes of clothes. Not just layers but actual outfit changes.

Door Mat for the tent entry. This one still boggles my mind.

Cots/hammocks/sleeping pad covers with memory foam.

Since my dogs are first and foremost we’ll add sleeping bag/bed. They like comfort, too!

Whether you’re a Roughin’ It kind of person or the Lover of Comfort type that brings the 60lb. pack on a two-day trip, these items boil down to the ability to keep you going on your adventures. If you are one of the Lover’s of Comfort, there is no judgement here! I’m not ashamed to say that I am one of those friends.

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