Packing is probably the hardest part of any trip preparation — especially when that trip is going to last 6 months and involve 4 seasons worth of weather conditions. What’s more, when you’re going to be flying with your gear, you’ll likely have to figure out how to fit it into 2 checked bags (under 50lbs each) and 2 carry-ons. As many times as I’ve done this in the last 3 years, it’s still a challenge, so I figured I would share my gear list here for others who may be interested in how one might go about accomplishing such a feat.
I use an Osprey Viva 65 that I bought a couple years ago from REI and it continues to serve me well. I love this pack because it can be compressed small enough to bring as a carry-on for shorter trips, or expand large enough to carry about 45-50lbs of gear.
In addition to the sleeping bag, I also pack most of my clothing in my Osprey. These include a couple base layers (wool and synthetic long johns), and wool socks, mittens, hat, and a scarf or two. Though not pictured, I also always bring a couple casual clothes for days with nice weather, training weeks when I’m not in uniform, and weekends of course!
Outer layers that I bring include my Columbia omni-heat synthetic jacket (wonderfully warm and compressible!), and a couple pairs of pants. Also rain gear: super important. I have a Mountain Hardwear rain shell that I found at a thrift store brand new (!), and Outdoor Research full-zip rain pants. I’m a big fan of the full-zip pants — makes them super easy to put on and take off over other layers without having to take off your boots.
And finally, my backpack will hold the rest of my small essentials: these include my knife, headlamp, rope and paracord, notebook, and sunglasses. Not pictured, my smaller gear also includes toiletries (can’t forget those!), 32oz water bottle, and Aquamira water treatment drops.
My tent is just a basic 2-person backpack tent from Walmart that will fit in my Osprey when I go camping. One day I will upgrade to a smaller, lighter one, but for now this gets the job done. Not pictured, my other camping equipment includes a backpacking camp stove and a set of camp cookware.
Shoes are the worst to have to pack. I hate them. But alas, they are probably one of the more necessary items. For a summer in Alaska, I bring my Xtratufs, my uniform hiking boots, shine-able boots (also for uniform), and my running shoes. If I have extra space, I’d also probably throw in some shower/camp flip flops just for kicks.
What is a park ranger without a uniform? Probably just some hippie living in the woods! Well, we certainly can’t forget the Green & Grey, though it does take up a bit of space and will need a TON of ironing when I get to the park.
As a writer/photographer/general media geek, my camera equipment is of course one of the most important things I bring. I shoot with a Nikon D7000 and GoPro Hero3, and will also be bringing my tripod.
And finally, we have our day pack, which will probably be my most used daily item over the summer. This year I splurged on the TETON Sports Oasis 1200 Hydration Pack, since my old backpack finally reached an unacceptable level of grossness and disrepair. I am super impressed with the Oasis 1200 though — It fits my 15″ laptop for when I fly, as well as my Nikon and other media equipment. In addition, it also comes with a 3 liter hydration bladder for those longer day hikes, and features a sternum strap and waist belt for better weight distribution. It is literally everything I’ve ever wanted in a backpack. so I hope it lasts me a long time! I’ll try to do a full gear review soon so you can see what it looks like in action!
I think that just about sums up the majority of my gear list for this summer. (And I hope you liked my super-shoddy “studio shots” of my equipment, featuring the wrinkled white background sheet! ;P WHATEVER GUYS, not going for perfection here this time!). I’ve probably forgotten to mention a few things, but hopefully this will give you an idea of what one packs for a summer with the National Park Service in Alaska.