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Gear for a walk in the woods  RSS feed

 
Cj Sloane
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About 10 days ago my 6 ewes went AWOL. 2 days later they were spotted and we tried to herd them thru the woods to a farm. It wasn't entirely successful but I did get 1 ewe back. I also spotted wild ginseng, which I left. I have since tried to locate it again, unsuccessfully!!!

The next day I tried to locate them by myself. At some point in my walk, it occurred to me that I was not very well prepared. I had a phone, corn & a bell to lure the sheep if I found them. The danger of getting lost was very slim - I'd hit a major road if I walked uphill, downhill or north eventually (like a mile in all directions). Plus, I had my cell, of course. But as I spotted some turkey vultures, I wondered what I'd do if a pack of dogs/coydogs/coyotes had killed my sheep and were in the area. A catamount prints had been spotted nearby. Bear are a possibility.

A week later my sheep were spotted again. This time I brought my dog, who would probably not be helpful if I found the sheep, a shepherd's crook, a leash for sheep, and a knife on a belt. I left my water bottle in the car so I could keep my hands free. I now realize I should've used a carbiner to clip it to my belt.

So the point of the thread, what should you bring for say a 2 hours walk in the woods. What's the best gear for this? I'd like to be mostly hands free, but the shepherd's crook/walking stick was handy. A belt seems crucial to carry a least a pocketknife and water bottle. A cell phone. Not sure if I want to be encumbered by a backpack but foraging is always possible so where to put the foraged material? Flagging tape would've been handy to mark that ginseng, or if I'd had a knife I could've marked a tree, I guess.

Just thinking out loud here.

BTW, I've still got 4 ewes roaming the woods so this isn't just idle speculation!
 
Michael Cox
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Personally I'd probably have a smallish backpack, I don't like cramming things in my pockets while walking and like to have my hands free.

A knife and folding pruning saw would probably go in. A small fire making kit. Water bottle. No big predators to be concerned of here fortunately. A few meters of paracord. Perhaps a lightweight pot for boiling water ( I have a cup that doubles as a pot for cooking).

With that lot I'd be confident I could look after myself if I got lost, injured or benighted.
 
Jessica Gorton
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I'm going to agree that a knife and a bottle of water are the bare minimums (though I've been known to not follow my own advice!). A good leather belt can be outfitted with carbiners and clips for carrying such small items if you don't want to carry a backpack. I will usually bring my packbasket if I'm doing some foraging, with plastic or canvas bags to separate the different materials I collect. Lately I've been working on my identification skills, so I'll often throw in one or two of my Petersen's guides (which I wish they made in a lightweight version!).

For protection from beasties, a stout walking stick is probably your best bet (plus you are stacking functions there!) - it gives you some reach, and can help you look bigger and more intimidating. As for smaller beasties, I usually bring a small spray bottle with my homemade insect repellant - it needs to be reapplied regularly to work best. I'll usually have some cordage of some kind with me as well. I have lots of plans for building a compact hiking get-up, with additional gear, like a compass, water purification, emergency med kit, etc, but for now, I tend not to stray too far from home, and the woods behind my place are never too far from a road.

Good luck getting the sheep in!
 
R Scott
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a HAT!!! Knife, water, lighter, flashlight, phone, benedryl/epipen, a snack (protein bar, jerky, nuts, etc.) and maybe a jacket. Those are my minimums if you can't get lost. I should carry a whistle but don't.

Lots of choices for ways to carry a waterbottle, snack, and maybe a jacket hands-free. I like a good sling bag--Indian Jones style man-purse.

I have one of those little nylon reusable shopping bags, but made with a long strap to be worn like a messenger bag. It is really handy for foraging or carrying those couple things.
 
Frank Brentwood
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Cj Verde wrote:
So the point of the thread, what should you bring for say a 2 hours walk in the woods. What's the best gear for this? I'd like to be mostly hands free, but the shepherd's crook/walking stick was handy. A belt seems crucial to carry a least a pocketknife and water bottle. A cell phone. Not sure if I want to be encumbered by a backpack but foraging is always possible so where to put the foraged material? Flagging tape would've been handy to mark that ginseng, or if I'd had a knife I could've marked a tree, I guess.

Just thinking out loud here.

BTW, if still got 4 ewes roaming the woods so this isn't just idle speculation!


I used to hike a bit. Personally, I NEVER go into the woods without The Ten Essentials. I adjust with additional things depending factors such as time of year, expected activities, who is with me, etc. If you select items carefully with an eye towards weight and size, you can fit them all into a fanny/belt pack with room to spare if you don't want to deal with a backpack.

My lightweight "always-in-the-car-just-in-case-I-want-to-go-walkabout" kit consists of:

1) A Tyvek jacket that I got as a promotional item a gazillion years ago. Wads up to about the size of a deck of cards or ties around my waist if I'm not wearing it.
2) A 15-20-year-old Leatherman multi-tool in a leather belt holster that is wrapped with ~25 feet of 550 paracord.
3) A magnesium fire-starter slipped under the paracord wrapping.
4) A plastic compass on a lanyard with my rescue whistle.
5) Mini Maglite in a nylon belt holster.
6) A 1-liter Nalgene bottle in an insulated carrier on a neck strap.
7) 2 "Survival Bars" tucked into the carrier with the water bottle. (I don't recall the maker of these, they are about 1500 calories each and taste like lemon-flavored sawdust. They'll keep you alive in an emergency, but nobody is tempted to snack on them if they're just a little peckish )
8 ) A small first aid kit made up of band-aids, ointment, moleskin, pain relievers, sunscreen, dental floss, bug spray, waxed-matches, dryer-lint firestarter, water purification tablets, etc. All inside a plastic band-aid box. There are some other things in it like fish-hooks and a couple of sewing needles, but those are personal preferences.
9) A "space blanket".

All of this stuff fits into the pockets of the jacket or on my body if I don't feel like carrying a bag. In the car, it goes back into a small canvas tool pouch that easily slips into the spare tire nook.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Gosh...this is a hard one...

It all depends on skill sets, comfort levels, and biome type. I carry a multitool, and sparker or compression fire starter, and that is about it most of the time. Water I drink out of the stream because I can and always have (do as I say...not as I do kind of thing.) I sleep outside year round...so again, my conditioning is vastly different than most of my students.

So for advise, water, a knife, a fire method, and a means to sleep comfortably of your choice for the unexpected outside stay. Food be what fits your needs...I personally eat "anything" that moves (swims) slower than I do...and that has been a many things on my "walkabouts" on this globe...

Hope that helps...
 
Cj Sloane
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R Scott wrote:a HAT!!! ... benedryl/epipen...


Wondering on the emphasis on the hat? I try to wear one around the place for sun & I have one for rain when I need to work outside around the homestead.

I'd like to get an epipen - mainly because I have a homemade beehive (2x2x2 Perone) and although no one seems allergic is also seems handy to have. Do you need a script to get one? Amazon doesn't carry them.
 
Cj Sloane
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What's the cord used for?
 
Jessica Gorton
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Oh, paracord can be used for just about everything.
 
R Scott
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Cj Verde wrote:
R Scott wrote:a HAT!!! ... benedryl/epipen...


Wondering on the emphasis on the hat? I try to wear one around the place for sun & I have one for rain when I need to work outside around the homestead.

I'd like to get an epipen - mainly because I have a homemade beehive (2x2x2 Perone) and although no one seems allergic is also seems handy to have. Do you need a script to get one? Amazon doesn't carry them.


Because skin cancer sucks. It does so much to protect you when out and about--sun, wind, rain. A good hat is priceless.

Epipens need prescriptions, and they are quite expensive. I don't react too fast, so Benedryl is all I have ever actually needed. I carry it in a necklace pill case like the old nitro glycerin pills.
 
Michael Cox
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I love a good hat too. My favourites have all been proper Aussie Acubras... rabbit felt, quite thin and light weight but good for rain, sun etc... and they are so comfortable once they have been worn in.
 
Cj Sloane
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I've been wearing a hat all summer and my 19 year old makes fun of me, asking if I'm enjoying my geoff lawton cos-play. The woods I'm searching in is heavily forested so I don't think I need it for sun protection. It's kind of white which would not be good for deer season -certainly not on "flag day." I do wear a great leather/rabbit fur hat in winter .
 
Judith Browning
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well, Cj, your escapees led to a good discussion For anything more than a couple hours and depending if I know the area.....water, if I don't know there is a stream, I wear a bandana often and it has doubled for a bag and once in a while overnight hitching, as a coffee strainer, and I suppose could work as a tourniquet, i like a pocketknife, and a net bag for mushrooms............my phone is attached to the wall, taking one almost seems like cheating I've never been hopelessly lost yet though....just kind of and not for years. a compass sounds like a great idea....We take some masking tape for seed ticks in season and I have a very small well fitting back pack with a water bladder and a net outside bit for stuffing layers of clothes as I warm up. I guess this is about those unplanned walks that go from an intended hour to all day though....so a miimum of some water, masking tape, bandana...
I can't hollar like I used to be able too so this might ot work for me anymore...here anyway, three good 'woooo's' will usually be heard by someone even through acres of woods....and be understood as a call for help
 
Cj Sloane
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Frank Brentwood wrote:
8 ) A small first aid kit made up of band-aids, ointment, moleskin, pain relievers, sunscreen, dental floss, bug spray, waxed-matches, dryer-lint firestarter, water purification tablets, etc. All inside a plastic band-aid box. There are some other things in it like fish-hooks and a couple of sewing needles, but those are personal preferences.


Oh yeah, we could've used a first aid kit on Saturday. I took the dog and my 18 year old son took 2 friends - 1 in the National Guard Reserves. They parked on the next property from where I was parked and we agreed to search towards each other and meet in the middle. This actually did work and then we split up again. The kid in the Guard climbed up a tree, to get a better look around, and then fell off and cut his hand. They walked down the mountain and got some first aid at a house - just some gauze I think. I took him in to town (20 minute drive) and he got 9 stitches at a local walk-in clinic for a very reasonable $150. He also realized he is uninsured except for his 1 weekend/month so I hope he works on fixing that!

I'll tell you what though, no matter what kind of jam I'm in, I wont be flossing my teeth! OK, maybe it's good for other stuff. I have ordered some paracord!
 
Cj Sloane
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Judith Browning wrote: well, Cj, your escapees led to a good discussion


Yeah! I'm kicking around another thread for gear for walking around the homestead. I'm not usually too far from the house unless I'm checking on my shiitakes, in which case I have my car (it's 1/2 mile down the driveway). I am constantly running back to the house for clippers/pruners/pocket knife, phone/ipod and water so I need to figure out how to make sure I've always got those on me. I try, try, try to always have my hat on and leather gloves in my back pocket. I've got good winter overalls with lots of pockets for stashing things but haven't settled on good a good summertime outfit.
 
Cj Sloane
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I'm a dope!

Got a call that my missing sheep were spotted and didn't bring my new gear because I figured I wouldn't need it. 4 hours of wild goose (sheep) chasing later... I could've used everything but the flashlight, firestarter, & first aid kit!!! It rained a little (I bought a $2 emergency raincoat), I was thirsty (my new hydration backpack would've been nice). I did have my knife on me.

I'm going to get a compass too. I gave up tracking the sheep and headed towards the house where my car was parked, overshot it and decided maybe I was better off going on the road and then all of a sudden I was back where my car was parked... and so were the sheep!!! Still, I wound up empty handed! I could only get within 3 feet of them.

I'm a dope!

*edit* Maybe I'm learning. I bought a 2nd hydration pack and now they'll be one in each vehicle so it will always be handy.
 
Frank Brentwood
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Sorry to hear that your elusive sheep are still being so elusive

Cj Verde wrote:
Frank Brentwood wrote:
8 ) A small first aid kit made up of band-aids, ointment, moleskin, pain relievers, sunscreen, dental floss, bug spray, waxed-matches, dryer-lint firestarter, water purification tablets, etc. All inside a plastic band-aid box. There are some other things in it like fish-hooks and a couple of sewing needles, but those are personal preferences.


I'll tell you what though, no matter what kind of jam I'm in, I wont be flossing my teeth! OK, maybe it's good for other stuff. I have ordered some paracord!


Dental floss can be used with those fish-hooks for fishing. You can also use one of the inner strands from paracord for the same thing.

In case of a serious wound, you can also use the floss and the sewing needles for stitching. If you hadn't been close to medical care for your young companion, that kind of thing could be handy. For that reason, dental floss in your "walkabout kit" should be unwaxed and unflavored/unscented.

Cj Verde wrote:(I bought a $2 emergency raincoat)


You can buy similar "emergency" ponchos that can be more useful. I've never found a raincoat (emergency or otherwise) that would comfortably cover my body and any pack of substance. It's not fun to reach camp with a dry body and have everything in your backpack be soaked. A poncho, especially a larger one, can cover person & pack and keep everything dry(er).
 
Cj Sloane
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Thanks for that Frank.

If you want a real laugh, consider this, I grew up in Great Neck, LI! I should be playing tennis - not chasing sheep all over the woods! OK, truth be told, I do still play tennis. I'm the only one I know that has livestock, lives off grid, and plays USTA team tennis (rated 4.0).

I think the large poncho is a good idea for camping except I don't ever go camping - my life is too much like camping as it is. That's why I was looking for minimal gear. Now, I just need to bring the gear every single time I go for a walk in the woods!

Here's my list:
Hydration backpack
First Aid kit (small kit with tweezers for ticks)
Headlamp flashlight
Fire starter
Phone
Emergency raincoat (that folds up very small)
Paracord
Knife
flagging tape

I'm wavering on a compass and water purification tablets. Walking stick would be nice too.
 
Brian Hamalainen
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A walking stick can easily be found pretty much anywhere near a forest environment so I wouldn't worry about "packing" a walking stick, especially not an artificial one.

One thing to note about walking sticks though: make sure it is at least as tall as you are. I've heard figures that an optimal length is one's height, plus 3 inches/8 cm. This way, it becomes much harder to poke one's eye out falling on/near the end.
 
allen lumley
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Cj : Back to the ten essentials, 1) A Tyvec jacket, light collapsible, with a drawstring at the waist or neck will make a sack to go over an animals head
making them more controllable, a way to carry your 'sang out of the woods ! and

2 ) the emergency 'space blanket' , a large 52 -56'' X 80 - 84'' Mylar sheet that turns 80% of the heat escaping your body back towards you !
Tomorrow when you get up it will be no warmer than 40 degrees F or colder, imagine a quick rainstorm and temps in that range and you are tired on
top of the rest, This is actually a more common hypothermia cause than freezing to death in mid winter !

Your local rescue squad probably buys these on a big roll of 100 for about a buck apiece! often for a $5.00 donation you will be given 1 or 2 and they
will fold up to the size of a deck of playing cards ! This is to get you out of the woods, not to protect you from briers and brambles !

''Why a hat '' you say ! Didn't anyone ever say to you" If your feet are cold, put on a hat ! " ? Big Al
 
Cj Sloane
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Did I mention the sheep were captured? Look:


Now my time is free to take casual walks in the woods.
I swear I almost didn't bring my gear yesterday when I went looking for acorns with my dog! This was almost exclusively on my own property so getting lost would have been a real feat though I didn't know exactly where I was at all times.

One thing I didn't bring or find and use was a walking stick. That would've been handy to push leaves aside while looking for acorns. In hindsight, a ziplock bag would've been better than an old plastic bag from the supermarket.

I did use a flag to mark a particularly productive tree. The hat wasn't needed in the dark woods and I'm not sure it's worth it in that scenario. I think I'll pack my foldable rain hat as a compromise.

You know what was a hindrance? My glasses! I'd spot some acorns and bend down to pick them up & the bifocals would kick in & I'd loose the acorns for a sec.

I did place an order for some "space blankets" & some duplicates of other items for the 2nd emergency pack - so I'll have one in each vehicle.
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Also, we like to use these Reusable Mesh Produce Bags 6 pk Set or similar (we buy ours for about 4$ for 3 from the local market) for foraging. Berries usually go in zip-locks due to squishing/leaking/staining concerns, but the mesh bags are great for just about everything else.

Also, one can make a fairly decent "food dehydrator" by putting goodies in these bags and hanging them *behind* fans (so the fan sucks air through them). If one has fans running a lot anyways (we do because we live in a stuffy apartment), then most goods will be >90% dehydrated in about a week with no extra energy usage. For any type of long term storage, I'll throw most thing in a normal dehydrator for an hour or so to finish them off. None of our grown herbs have needed any further drying. Since they are dried at ambient temps, the herbs retain a lot more of their flavors.

:EDIT: Attached picture of some assorted hot peppers drying on our fan. They've been there about 2.5 weeks now, but 1/2 way through we had some really humid weather which set them back a bit. They are just now about ready for a touch of commercial dehydrator and grinding.
20140914_122426.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140914_122426.jpg]
 
Cj Sloane
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Once again I went Acorn foraging with my dog & I did not bring any gear but my pocket knife, phone, and a pail. Water would've been handy but, again, it was pretty close to the house. I could occasionally hear the chickens.

I do want to add bug spray to my running list though! The mosquitoes were bad for September! And there is one more thing to add to the list which may seem a little odd - cash. $5 or $10 stashed in the backpack which is stashed in the vehicle when not on my person. Not trying to turn it into a "Bug out Bag" but a little cash on hand can be helpful.
 
Cj Sloane
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My husband has an interesting suggestion that no one has mentioned: toilet paper. I'm not totally convinced it's necessary but I stuck a travel pack of tissues is each gear bag.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Your son's cosplay comment cracks me up! This thread has inspired me to create a kit like this too. I usually have a baby on my back during my walks in the woods, but I can clip things to the baby carrier! I love the idea of keeping it in the car.

For around the house items I want to keep on hand, like pruners, I am contemplating buying one of those small aprons that have a few pockets. I think they may be sold at hardware stores, or maybe I will sew one up from some spare sturdy fabric scraps. I also have one of those 5 gallon bucket aprons that I have used to carry whatever I need with me, but it isn't as useful for just a stroll around the property, and I keep wanting the bucket for something else!
 
Cj Sloane
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Ghislaine de Lessines wrote:For around the house items I want to keep on hand, like pruners, I am contemplating buying one of those small aprons that have a few pockets.

I did buy a tool holster to go over a belt because my pruners keep falling out of my pockets.
 
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