Suggested Gear for a Summer Backpack on the Wallkill Valley Loop

Suggested Gear

  • Backpack
    • Make sure you have a capacity of at least 4000 cubic inches so you have enough room for your gear
    • Bring a pack cover or even a garbage bag to protect your things from the rain
  • Sleeping bag
    • Should be rated 10 degrees less than the lowest temperatures expected on the hike
    • Down vs. Synthetic fibers
      • Down is generally lighter and takes up less space, but doesn’t insulate when it is wet
      • Synthetic fibers will insulate you even if they get wet, but are heavier and take more space
  • Sleeping pad
    • Helps to block loss of heat into the ground
    • Also a good idea for a comfortable sleep
    • Foam vs. Air Mattress
      • Foam pads are cheaper and more durable
      • Air mattresses tend to be more comfortable, but vulnerable to getting punctured
  • Shelter
    • Tarps tend to be lighter and cheaper
    • Tents keep out the bugs and weather much better
    • A ground cloth is also a good idea to protect your tent from wear and to keep dry
  • Boots
    • If you just bought your boots, break them in a bit before hiking in them!
    • Boots above the ankle provide extra support, boots below the ankle are lighter
  • Clothing
    • General tips
      • In general, avoid bringing cotton clothing
        • Cotton, when wet, will not insulate you
        • Opt for synthetic fibers (like polypropylene, fleeces, etc.) or wool
      • Dress for the seasons and expect it to get cold at night (even in the middle of the summer!)
      • Dress in layers!  Layering will help you insulate from heat loss and carry less clothing weight
    • Protect against the weather
      • Rain gear will protect you from wind and rain, but will also trap body moisture
      • A breathable soft shell will protect you from wind and won’t trap body moisture, but they are not 100% waterproof
      • A hat is useful to shade against the sun and keep your eyes free of rain
    • Minimum recommended clothing
      • 1 short sleeve shirt and 1 long sleeve shirt for hiking
      • 1 Fleece shirt, vest, or jacket for cooler weather and around the camp
      • 1 pair of pants and 1 pair of shorts
      • Underwear and socks
        • Choosing the right socks can do much to prevent blisters
        • Consider using liner socks under your hiking socks to reduce friction (i.e. blisters)
    • A second pair of footwear (water sandals, crocs, etc.) for water crossings and use around the camp
  • Water
    • Water bottles
      • You should be able to carry, at a MINIMUM, 2 liters of water with you at any given time
      • Better to be able to carry 3 or 4 liters just in case
      • You can also use a drinking reservoir system as well
    • Water treatment
      • Keep in mind that on the trail, water sources are not always easy to find or safe to drink from!
      • There are many treatment options available on the market
        • You should probably use either a water purifier or a water filter as a primary system
        • Bring along a chemical treatment method as an emergency backup
  • Cooking & Food
    • Stove
      • There are lots of different options out there - research and find what will work best for you
      • Make sure you bring enough fuel!
      • Consider using a windscreen to use less fuel and keep a hotter flame, even when it is windy
    • Dishes
      • Cooking pot
      • Spoon or spork to eat with
      • It can be nice to have a metal cup for hot beverages and a bowl to eat out of too
    • Food
      • You will be using a lot of energy hiking – bring food that provides 150-200% of your normal calorie load
      • Diets vary, but make sure you are getting enough fat and protein
      • Vary your food, as you will quickly get sick of granola bars if that is all you bring
    • Fire starter (matches, lighter, etc.) – make sure you have more than one way to start a fire just in case!
    • Something to cleanup with – sponge or scrubber
    • Stuff sack for food, garbage, and cooking gear
      • This is to keep anything that smells of food in one place
      • This allows you to hang it away from your campsite and keep critters, like mice, chipmunks, raccoons, and bears out of your food and away from you
  • Medical / First Aid
    • If you are taking any prescription medication, be sure to bring a sufficient supply!
    • If you have any life-threatening allergies, bring a means to deal with them should an emergency arise!
    • Bare-bones medical kit
      • Pain reliever
      • Antibiotic
      • Anti-diarrhea medicine
      • Needle and thread
      • Antihistamine
      • Sunscreen
      • Lib balm
      • Tweezers for sliver and tick removal
      • Moleskin or Second Skin for blisters
      • Bandages for smaller cuts and abrasions
      • Gauze and tape to bandage any large wounds
      • Electrolyte drink powders to replenish the body in the case of major dehydration or mineral/salt loss
  • Hygiene
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
    • Toilet paper
    • Biodegradable soap
  • Other Must Haves
    • Compass, trail guide, and trail maps
    • Duct tape
      • It is a great universal fix all for all sorts of situations
      • Roll flat around an old credit card or around a water/fuel bottle to save pack space
    • Garbage bag – if you packed it in, pack it out!
    • Bandana – can be used as a towel, headband, potholder, sling, pre-filter, etc.
    • Knife/Multi-tool
    • Photo ID, credit cards and cash
    • Emergency telephone numbers – don’t forget to tell someone where you will be and what your schedule is!
    • Flashlight and spare batteries - LED lights last longer and tend to be lighter
    • Rope/cord (nylon, polypropylene, paracord, etc.) to hang shelter and food/cooking gear bag
  • Optional, but a good idea
    • Cell phone, for emergency use
    • Notebook and writing instrument - you may be inspired on the trail to write about the things you see!
    • Zip-lock style bags to keep important items (like cell phone and matches) dry
    • Hiking poles – useful for climbing up and down steep slopes
    • Watch
    • Insect repellent
    • Camera – to take pictures of the amazing things you’ll see on the trail!
    • Reading materials and games for camp

 

This checklist is indented to be a suggested guide rather than a prescription; there is no ‘right’ way to set up a hiking pack.  If you talk to 100 different people about what to bring, you will get 100 different answers.  Experiment and try stuff out: that is the only way you will devise a system that works best for you.  Remember too that you want to be prepared, but don’t go overboard because you will be carrying the extra weight of whatever you bring along every step of the way!

Re-supplying on the Loop

If you hike the entire Wallkill Valley Loop, you will probably want to re-supply once during the trip.  Even though it is certainly possible to carry everything you need when you set out, you will be able to move a bit faster and lighter if you do opt to re-supply.  This can be done in one of two ways: you can either visit a grocery store in one of the towns along the trail or you can send a mail drop ahead.  The latter is accomplished by packaging all the food stuffs you will need (please follow all applicable postal regulations) and mailing it to the post office you would like to pick it up.  Address the package to your name (or the hiker’s name) c/o General Delivery, with the address of the post office you are sending it to.  Make sure to indicate to “Hold for hiker arriving approximately __(insert date here)__.  If you do choose to re-supply using a mail drop, bear in mind that you must be able to pick it up during normal postal hours (So don’t try to set up a mail drop for Sunday!).  The post office will generally hold your package for 30 days, so don’t send it too far in advance and don’t worry if you arrive a day or two late.

The following is a list of post office addresses along the trail:

  • Greenwood Lake, NY  10925
  • Unionville, NY  10988
  • Otisville, NY  10963
  • Wurtsboro, NY  12790
  • 652 Lybolt Road  Middletown, NY  10941 (in Bullville)

Material developed by Michael Knutson, an SCA intern at Scenic Hudson, summer 2006