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The Well-Informed Weekender

September 17, 2015

written by Mike Ellsworth

It’s almost that time of year: Fall is nearly here. The leaves are changing, the cool breeze is blowing in, and everything is getting “pumpkin-ed”. The heat from the summer is starting to fade away and you can’t help but hear the outdoors bid for your attention. The beautiful fall foliage and smoke rising from a campfire seem to blend so pleasantly with these September and October weekends and are a perfect backdrop for your outdoor excursion. 

I’m always one to encourage exploration, but I encourage it even more this time of year. Does this mean, though, that you should just run out there into nature and explore, completely unprepared? No. So don’t you think more people should ask me something like, “Mike, what it is in your pack on a typical weekend excursion and what should I bring with me?” Yes, they should. But no one has ever asked me that, so that’s exactly what I am going to share with you this week. As I head out on these fall weekends with many other outdoor enthusiasts, there are a few items that I will be taking with me.

Pack - My current weekend pack is the Kestrel 32. I love this thing! For me, it’s the perfect size for 1-3 days out. It offers great support via the sturdy hip belt, and has an integrated rain cover for those surprise showers.

Tent - I’ve never been more pleased with a tent as I am with the Kelty Trail Ridge series. These tents are great, and it is nice to see them in the inventory at Camp Hydaway (wink, wink…available to rent). The 2-man is lightweight enough to strap to my pack, and large enough for me and a friend. These tents are easy to set up, yet sturdy and mobile.  This is my favorite home away from home.

Boots - I’m currently wearing my Oboz Sawtooths. I like a lightweight, sturdy, but sneaker-ish boot, and these couldn’t be better for me. However, the right hiking boots really are conditional upon what your foot shape is and how you walk. I always recommend going to a local store to try on different pairs or even talking to a pro about different options.

Clothes - I basically have 2 articles of clothing that I can’t live without when I’m out.  I have a synthetic Patagonia zip-neck that works great in all seasons. It breathes when it’s hot, and as the cool evening rolls in, I simply add another layer and this baby keeps the heat right near to my body. This type of middleweight layer is ideal for fall camping.  I also love the Prahna Bronson shorts. I live in these things!  They are made with a tough and sturdy canvas fabric that also stretches in all the right places for optimum comfort.

Other Cool Stuff - I have had my Gerber Instant knife for a few years now. It’s with me almost every day and is always ready to lend a hand. Few items are as helpful when you’re outdoors as a trusted knife in your back pocket.

  • A sturdy flashlight will be just as helpful in a pinch. There’s a lot of debate out there on what flashlight to buy. I’m a huge proponent of not spending a lot of money on one. Just get one that is reliable and bright. Some people can spend $60-$100 on a flashlight. I think that’s crazy! I’ve had my Coleman from Walmart for 2 years now and I love it. 
  • It’s also great to have a back-up headlamp just in case. Inevitably, someone will forget a flashlight on your trip. So, I always act the hero and carry two. The same rule for flashlights applies to headlamps - DON’T OVERSPEND!

Student Activities just got back from our overnight beach trip to Virginia Beach and we have a few more excursions left on the calendar. That means you have a few more opportunities to utilize this pack list. Be sure to check out our upcoming fall break trip. But, more importantly, just get outside! Step out of your comfort zone this fall and go camping with some friends. 

Have fun, stay safe, and engage the world around you!