This photo/essay guide was last updated with new equipment in 2015, but all the principles are still valid.  Now in 2018–after a couple of initial backpacks…… I will go through it and make a few comments and changes about any  new equipment.

For a mini-course on LIGHTWEIGHT  BACKPACKING & my history,  go to  HOW I DO A 3 DAY BACKPACK which won’t  be updated but retained for historical purposes…but with principles explained that are always valid.  
 Also the photo/essay entitled:  WHERE DO YOU GET SO MUCH ENERGY?  That has other details and history, including solutions for High Altitude Sickness, and FREE MIRACLE NUTRITION.

SPECIAL NOTE at the end of May 2015 as I create this report:  As I prepare my first backpack, while in my trailer up on Bald Mt. Pass acclimatizing myself for  my first trip, I’ll  photograph my preparations and update every step of the process in this photo/essay and post when back in internet contact.  
Following you’ll see all the new stuff with links to everything
Lightweight backpacking should be really simple.  Everything I suggest here is based totally on my own experience over many years, and  has application to backpacking almost anywhere.  You might think it’s long and complicated, BUT A LOT SIMPLER THAN HAVING TO GO THROUGH ENTIRE THICK BOOKS!
 But for those who like books full of details I’ll insert  below  two good books on the subject, and I will follow with info on the guide book I have used for  many years on the Uintas–you’ll see on Amazon that there are newer versions by the same authors, then maps and a Topographical CD/Rom you put on your computer–with a new twist on topo maps.  In October 2015, timing only good for the 2016 season,  a new guide book will come out by Brett Prettyman of the Salt Lake Tribune, I think with some minor contributions from me.  
Eventually I’ll come out with mine,  which will be unique like nothing that has ever been published….but first I’ve got to do my darndest to get in the last 300 miles of exploring and photography bringing my total in 13 years to 2,000 miles in the Uintas.
So if you want to specialize,  here are two good resources:  
 For the guide book click on: HIGH UINTAS BACKCOUNTRY
For the NG Wilderness map, click on: NG MAP
For topographical maps of the specific areas you will be in  see the 
National Geographic TOPO CD/Rom seen below.
For the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources pamphlets on the High Uintas you see above they seem to be out of print….making my very old set more valuable than I thought.  
1594 West No. Temple, Salt Lake City, UTAH 84114-6301
DWR phone:  801-538-4700;   Library phone:  801-537-3320
The pamphlets available are the most recent done in 1988: 
Provo & Weber River 
Duchesne River 
Rock Creek
Yellowstone-Lake Fk. & Swift Creek   
Rock Creek
Dry Gulch & Uinta River
Sheep & Carter Creeks & Burnt Fork

The DWR website is:  http://wildlife.utah.gov/
Even before you prepare your equipment you’ve got to research where you’re going.
Get this and install it on your computer and you’re on your way. One of these could do for a pair of backpacking buddies, or a group–and save some money.  Get the TOPO for the state of your interest. Click on:  TOPO CD/ROM  With this you can zoom in on the specific area of your trip, plot your route, label the distances,  do a fly over, and see an elevation profile–and of course print your maps–including an extra set to leave at home so the family will know where you’ll be or post them if you have a website.
In the beginning my printer used waterproof ink, but not recent models….and the humidity of the Uintas will ruin the maps you print very quickly.  I now have to laminate them–ON BOTH SIDES with self-adhesive CON-TACT paper (plastic) you see below.  With that you have a map that needs to be rolled up….and I carry them in the empty rolls of paper towels which I varnish with water based Polycrylic to make them more durable.

You will notice the map for what I had hoped would be my first backpack in 2015 is larger than the normal 8-1/2″ x 11′ paper size.  I’m fortunate enough to have a printer that will do up to 13″ x 19″…..the map you see is 11″ x 17″ that I suppose you could get done at a copy center.

On my 27 day “expedition” in 2003 I met the author of SAGEBRUSH COUNTRY, Phillip Fradkin,  1 hour down the trail. He was doing a bit of scouting in preparation for his 2nd edition in which he mentions my High Uintas Project.
Ironically the book is about the High Uintas . If you are interested click on:  SAGEBRUSH COUNTRY

On the first night of my 27 day “expedition,” pain, due to my football ankle and motorcycle knee, kept me from sleeping –so off and on I read through the night Lance Armstrong’s first book. It doesn’t matter what happened to him later, as it was a life saving book choice for me back then! For details on this experience, see my “1,000 Mile….Backpack”  or the
 photo/essay:  Lightweight Backpacking  You can get this gem of a book that mostly deals with his challenge of beating cancer,  at:  NOT THE BIKE

Since 2004 I have never removed my Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG wristband.
NOTE:  For “full disclosure” I have worn out several, the one on me right now was ripped off recently by my 42nd grandson, Ryan, but repaired with Plastic Surgery glue, mentioned later, along with transparent Gorilla tape , some always with me, along with the Gorilla Camo Tape, that replaces very effectively duct tape….the old standby.
The LIVESTRONG wristband always  reminds me continually to NEVER GIVE IN!  
See the NEVER GIVE IN….easily,  SURVIVAL STORY, connected to Lance Armstrong.


 Here we see the 4 most basic items for backpacking.  You can see on the 2011 GEAR/SUPPLEMENT page what it was then, but for 2015 it  has improved again with a new pack, quilt and mattress, all of which I will show below.
Osprey Atmos 65 liters AG
This is the one I have chosen to use in 2015,  Winner of Backpacker magazine’s 2015 Editors’ Choice Award.  See more details in the April 2015 Gear Guide issue of BACKPACKER MAGAZINE. 
 This is a radical new design for backpacks.  The AG refers to the suspension system meaning “Anti-gravity.”  There’s no foam padding on the back, nor plastic framesheet, rather a steel perimeter wire spanned by a non-stretch large mesh that covers the entire back  down to the hipbelt, the whole system wrapping around your back and hips without any gaps or pressure points anywhere with load transfer over the entire area as well as total ventilation of your back as you see below. 
 You almost feel as though it isn’t there.  The one I have is the 65 liter  for large loads, but there is a 50 liter version, and both also for women called the AURA  with a pretty forest green color, or more like turquoise you see in the first picture.  The toplid can be removed to save 8 oz. of weight, exposing a flap cover to protect your load.   It has abundant pockets, and bottom zippered sleeping bag compartment, which  I”ll use for tent, quilt and mattress, plus compression straps for improved stability.  Available in four colors: red. green, grey & blue.  Weight is a little more than I’m used to, at 4 lbs. 4 oz. but all the pluses more than compensate.  See it, and buy at at: 
 Note:  I got mine at REI with my dividend which included the raincover for the same price. 

You’ll notice in the above pictures that I also have a new enlarged photographic waist pack having worn out two over the last 13 years, and I needed a larger one anyway for additional lenses for my Nikon digital camera.  Not counting the tripod, it weighs 9 lbs. which weight most of you don’t need, as I’ll mention later.


  My choice for 2015 is to continue with the same tent I used last year:    It is the BIG AGNES  Fly Creek UL1 for one person as you see above.   It is pricey, but light at 2 lbs. 3 oz. and compact.  The mosquito netting basic tent is  free standing, and after setting up can be positioned exactly where you want it, and then cover with the rain cover using stakes.  It has a vestibule for your pack.  If it rains, you can hang it in the morning to drain and dry, as well as shake out all the pine needles and debri.  See it and buy it at:  BIG AGNES Fly Creek tent.  A two person and larger can be found there too.

Here is another option for a shelter–best after the mosquitoes are gone.  My rain poncho is used (which you take anyway), along with a bivy bag.  Mine  does have mosquito netting–it weighs 14 oz. saving nearly a lb. in weight compared to my tent. See a  wide variety of BIVY BAGS.     The poncho I have used for 2 years is a GOLITE poncho,  weighing 8 oz. and is very good, but GOLITE has gone out of business.  See  a variety of  PONCHOS.    A poncho is considered an essential item for  backpacking, as a good one will be longer in the back so it can go over your backpack,  but if you have a raincovcer for your pack, a waterproof rain parka, and waterproof pants, you could get along without it.  My new photo waist pack also has a built in rain cover.
A little further down I’ll show  the evolution in shelters I’ve used since 2003  or see the 
article and scroll down.

SLEEPING PAD (or air mattress)

  In the HOW I DO A….BACKPACK  article  you can see the packed up pads I have used since 2003 showing my new choice being very tiny. My new pad is the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Mattress that is 20″ x 66″x 2.5″ thick–just what I need for greater comfort.  It is pricy, but for me well  worth it.  Check it out at:

The  photographs show the NeoAir in use along with my quilt.  My Mountain Hardware primaloft jacket fills the quilt’s compression sack as my pillow.
My new Golite Quilt is ready to spread over me-
For many years I have used my mummy sleeping bag as a quilt, laying down on the pad or mattress, and just putting my feet in the end of the bag, and spreading it over me without using the zipper.  For me it is much more comfortable.  A few years ago I actually bought a Golite Quilt good down to 20 degrees, and only weighing 15 oz. 
 I have used it for 4 years  the +20 degree Golite UltraLite 3-Season Quilt that weighs 15 oz.   You see it covering me in the above photo.  Note:  When cold  I use a stocking cap as I can’t stand covering my head as most do with mummy bags.   

Golite doesn’t exist anymore but several companies offer  Quilts, one being ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT/Revelation weighing 19 oz. with a variety of options for size, length, color  and temperature.     I’ll insert a photo below, of the down version.  As mentioned you  lay down on your sleeping pad or air mattress….with no need of anything else to insulate you from the ground, then put your feet in the bottom and spread it over you. This is a very versatile quilt as you can see clicking on the above link.


So my 2015 sleeping gear is seen packed up above–1 lb. 2 oz. lighter than the previous gear, and more compact.  Once again the links:  
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Air Mattress and  ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT/Revelation 

Below we see the evolution towards lighter, more compact, and more efficient equipment.On the right is the  sleeping bag I used for my 2003 Expedition, weighing around 3 lbs.  By the next year I got the “sub-kilo REI” sleeping bag weighting 2 lbs.  and last the quilt, weighing 15 oz.  Each rated at +20 degrees.  The quilt is by far for me the most comfortable.

Above,  the evolution of sleeping pads or mattresses.  All are Thermorest, the one on the left only 48″ long, and 3/4″ thick.   I needed more comfort, so the orange one also 48″ long, but 1-1/2″ thick and more comfortable.  Next another one 1-1/2″ thick, but 72 inches long.  Last the one now used for 4 years, the Neo-Air Thermorest, pictured in this post.  It is 72″ long x 24″ wide, but 2-1/2″ thick and by far the most comfortable, the lightest, and most compact….but it can be punctured as happened one miserable night when I had to survive on the cold ground.  Luckily my repair kit had what I needed to repair it the next day…that being the only time.




First, waterproof jackets, pants and ponchos
Above you see what I’m saying is essential–a very lightweight waterproof/windbreaker jacket.
Below are the packed up rain gear items:  1st waterproof pants, middle is the essential poncho and last a jacket you see me wearing above.

The right item is my waterproof Golite  jacket that weighs 8 oz. seen one picture above. 
The first item to the left is a pair of Marmot brand waterproof pants.   They weigh 10 oz. mainly because they have zippers up each side so that they can be put on and off without removing boots and they have pockets–both very worthwhile advantages.  I take them when the weather report is for a lot of rain, or early and late in the season when colder weather is likely.
The middle item in the above photo, also an essential,  is a rain poncho already mentioned that will cover you and your gear (backpack) when it rains.  The one I use is a 8 oz. Golite product with grommets and ties on the edges so it can be used as a shelter.  Links to find products are above in the tent/shelter section.
 You can see many jacket and pants options at:  Rain jackets and pants  At outdoor outlets like REI you can pay a lot of money for such,  but at the above link you can find some that are quite economical.  Just don’t buy something that is heavy and bulky.  Best if it is compactable and easily carried. 

Another option is what some call a WINDSHIRT which you see me using below.  It is a Golite product which only weighs 3 oz. and can be stuffed in a back pocket.  It is “water-resistant” but not waterproof, so in a good rain, get your poncho on too or you’ll be in trouble!   I have mine handy when I stop to rest to protect me from mosquitoes, and also to avoid cooling off as I’m usually sweaty and have to avoid chilling.   

See one at WINDSHIRT  the one shown there is Outdoor Research Men’s Helium II Jacket .  Golite doesn’t exist anymore so you’ll have to look around and see what’s available. Usually your rain jacket will suffice.


Now the critical item of WATER

There are a number of systems to filter and purify water.  On my 27 day “expedition” in 2003 I didn’t have a system….as back in the good old days we hadn’t heard about giardia, and such…and survived just fine.  Yet in getting ready in 2003 after having lived in Guatemala for 35 years, I learned about the need of being careful, and first tried the purification tablets, but didn’t like the chlorine taste.  The other system was boiling, but to boil about 2 gallons of water daily, with only a 1 quart pot wasn’t practical, but I tried it once, but didn’t like the smokey tasting water.  So, from then on I just looked for the best looking sources available, filling my containers, and never got sick.
For the next year I got a water pump purification system, and used different ones for most of these years, but always hated the pumping.  Then came the squeeze system, which didn’t work out to be much better.
But for last year I got the new GRAVITY SYSTEM and WOW!  
So I picture below my use of it on backpacks in 2014.
 First in a previous year you see me fetching water to take back to my camp a quarter of a mile away. I am using a Platypus bucket but also fill the “Dirty Water” bucket that comes with the system, giving me enough water for the afternoon and morning.     There are plastic bucket  Cheap options

Back at camp I hang the dirty water bag in a tree and let gravity do it’s job, filling various containers, and water bottles with adapters that come with the system. It takes about 2 minutes to filter the two quarts.  Then I fill it again from my bucket and in no time I’ve got all the water I need….and NO SWEAT!


Coming with the system are adapters to almost any container as you see here.


I’m also using another simple system….tried out in my hikes up the canyons of the Wasatch Front.  It’s the  LIFE STRAW you see me using below.  It will go with me into the High Uintas to see how useful it is.

 I don’t even recall what the brand is of my water bladder–it is so well used any name has worn off.   I don’t recommend the tough bottle like canteens that are too heavy and too expensive.  Best  go with the ones you get your chocolate milk in at the store…..they weigh and cost nothing.  I”m going to use this summer square ones with a wide top that you get apple and tomato sauce in.  I’ll update with pictures after my first trip.  But to mix energy powders/juice/milk/dehydrated eggs/sugar, etc. best have containers with a wide mouth.
In conclusion:  This 48 oz water bladder seen below has served me well for 12 years, but 3 years ago it split open on the upper left corner, and afterwards in other places.  What to do? 
I tried many glues, but none lasted until I found Plastic Surgery Super Glue.  The repair has lasted 3 years and counting.  Get it at:   Plastic Surgery  A tube of this incredible glue will always be in my Emergency Kit.  I’ve used it to repair my glasses, even a crown on a tooth that fell out in the Grandaddies and I glued it back on….and it lasted for a year!
For a year I saved enough dental costs to buy a whole basket-full of Plastic Surgery!
The 1 quart pot I have used since 2005 is Titanium.  You can see a large selection at:  TITANIUM POTS & PANS  Of course titanium is quite expensive.    To save a bunch of money go to:   OTHER POTS and PANS
The clear shaker bottles cost nothing.  Just buy supplements, peanut butter, etc. or drinks in containers that are clear plastic, preferably smooth for easier cleaning,  and large mouthed.


I have always said “I LOVE MY CAMPFIRE”  and
But, not only are campfires prohibited where we like to be–NEAR TO THE LAKES & STREAMS–but a camp with a cooking fire has to be  a quarter a mile distant–But we can have a camp 200 feet away from the lakes, streams and trails….BUT NO CAMPFIRE.  So to be close to water, fishing and beauty, I finally had to give in and get a tiny stove for my one cooked meal a day.  This will be an interesting summer for me.
Oh, by the way, I completely understand why these rules have to exist and have done my best to comply as there are many high traffic areas where all the dead wood, and even twigs, have disappeared due to campfires and the consequences aren’t good–some areas almost like a desert! Even with strict rules, said areas will never recover during our life time!
Of course I will love even more the remote areas I usually seek where I will be able to warm myself in the evening cozied up to my small campfire!

This is what it used to be, including the “strike anywhere matches,” and  a few of those magic birthday candles that you can’t blow out.  The Montana Campfire starter was found once at Sportsmen’s Warehouse, but I can’t find it anymore, but came up with something similar below, but let me mention first what’s in the little plastic bag…..it’s pine pitch you can find on the trail, in trees like seen below. 


It’s great for starting a fire in tough conditions as it will burn long enough to dry out your twigs and get the fire going. 

In looking for the liquid fire starter, I found  this….FIRE STARTING PASTE  and also wonderful STORM PROOF MATCHES that I don’t go backpacking without.  What I do with the paste is mix it in a little plastic container, like the Montana stuff bottle, mixed with diesel fuel, or kerosene, even throwing in a little gasoline to resolve it better and have a thick liquid I just squirt on the twigs and light and soon have a good campfire, even if there’s a lot of humidity.
NOTE:  As I prepare my first backpack, while in my trailer up on Bald Mt. Pass acclimatizing myself for  my first trip, I’ll  photograph my preparations and update every step of the process including  a couple of photographs of the liquid fire starter I make.


Now to another category…let’s call it

 Equipment #3
 Knife, SPOT Tracker, Compass and Headlamp

For a KNIFE,  the 2 oz. Leatherman Squirt is all I need–not just in the mountains, but it’s in my pocket always, even in Church!  The blade is small, but sufficient to gut a fish, etc.  and the pliers always come in handy–like to unhook a fish,  make a repair, etc.  

 See &  buy it at:  LEATHERMAN SQUIRT

Below I’ll insert a couple of photographs showing the evolution of my thinking about a knife and such:


On my 27 day expedition I found this hatchet  between Rosalie & Glady’s lakes up above timberline in the far reaches of Rock Creek.  I’m a scavenger by nature, so had to pick it up, but by the time I got to Helen Lake I realized how ridiculous it was to carry such a heavy and useless tool, so left it on the post that once had the Helen Lake sign. 

I had my elk skin gloves, as I always do, and all I needed to do was gather up dead wood, break it up in campfire lengths over a rock, and you’re ready to cook dinner.  No need of a hatchet or axe.


 So,  no need of a heavy knife, or large Leatherman tool, as a tiny Squirt Leatherman is all you need. Same with a big flashligh– a headlamp is so much more useful, and rather than a pound or two, you carry just 3 oz.  Same with a compass….just a small, inexpensive one will do.

Next in line is the 

…… essential to let people at home know you’re alright, where you are, and to get help if there is an emergency.  You can get information, and  buy/rent one from Russ Smith at:  SKYCALL SATELLITE
seen below.  You can also get more info at:  SPOT SATELLITE PERSONAL TRACKER

Russ is using a satellite phone. A solo backpacker should have one for sure. For all my trips I have had one. A group should have one for sure, and I can guarantee that parents would be more than happy to share the cost.  For the first 3 years of the High Uintas Wilderness Project, the sat phone was only used twice–each time loaned to a Boy Scout group with an injured boy.
 Once again you can rent a satellite phone from Russ Smith at:  SKYCALL SATELLITE 
If you’re not convinced check out my experience when a sat phone saved my life at:  SURVIVAL   I’ll insert below the headline in hopes you’ll go to it to get a number of life saving tips.

Russ Smith helped save me with a conference call on a Skycall Satellite phone when everything was going wrong up on 12,300 foot high East Fork Pass in the midst of a blizzard late in the backpacking season IN 2006, and I’m grateful again to Russ for the Satellite Phone  you see below that I’ll have again this summer, and will use it to call in to KSL Radio Outdoors Radio every Saturday morning…just a bit after 7:00 AM …so tune in, and for your backpack, get a phone from Russ at SKYCALL SATELLITE.

Next comes the all important COMPASS–to orient yourself, or your map to navigate safely in the high country, as seen below being taught to a group of Explorer/Boy Scouts in the Four Lakes Basin.
You don’t have to spend much money.  Mine probably cost $2.95 or so.  Get info at:  COMPASS
Last comes the all important LIGHT, which in my mind now means HEADLAMP
You can’t see it, but my headlamp is under the brim of my hat making possible a little reading.  The one pictured in the composite photo is a  very inexpensive Energizer you can see along with other options at:  HEADLAMPS,   OTHER OPTIONS  The main one I show in the OPTIONS  is the Princeton brand, one of which I have used for years. It has important features your headlamp should have:  3 light levels for long  (150 hours) life, tilt-able head, and waterproof.
SOCKS:  I am dumbfounded every time I hear a well known backpacker, or runner talk about being hampered by blisters!  
That happened to me too, UNTIL I LEARNED THE FOLLOWING:  
 For your feet,  first a pair of CoolMesh WrightSocks that prevent blisters.  Since I have used them with my running shoes, and hiking boots I have never got a blister. They are worth their weight in gold!  
See them at:  CoolMesh WrightSocks  You can see good boot sock options at:  boot socks.…and  CREW LENGTH TOESOCKS – just in case you need them. 

Get more information at   INJINJI TOESOCKS

Here is what  I will be using in 2015.  The waterproof, very light Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX Fast Light Backpacking Boots  you see above on the left. This boot will likely be my mainstay, but I’ll also use the Salomon waterproof mountain running shoe I have used on most of my trips in the last couple of years.  There is only 6 oz. of difference in the weight between them (pairs), 2 lbs. 3 oz. for the boots and 1 lb. 13 oz. for the shoes.  These are quality products without the high end cost.  See them at:  HIKING BOOTS 


You can zip off the bottom and be comfortably hiking in shorts. Remember, it is important to have legs with zippers on the bottom portion so you can put them on and off without removing your boots or shoes. Also go for synthetic material, like Nycott, as it is lightweight, a windbreaker, and mosquitoes can’t go through it. See a number of options at  CONVERTIBLE PANTS

You might have noticed in backpack pictures my new convertible pants.  They are a bit heavier, more durable, a bit warmer, with a cotton/nylon blend material that won’t easily get holes melted in them from  flying embers  from your campfire.  They are the:
 The North Face Libertine convertible pants     Other options:  Convertible pants


You should use polyester fabric T-shirts.  They are more expensive, but last forever, even when humid retain some insulation value, and dry quickly.   Below I’ll insert a couple that I use always–focusing on bright colors for better photographs.

 First my Lance Armstrong cycling jersey  you link to at CANARI shirts.


There are lots of options you can see at  Sugoi shirts and  at REI shirts


For a number of years I stuck with my system of layering shirts, then on top my waterproof windbreaker jacket–in fact that’s all I had on my 27 day expedition, but on one backpack trip my buddy Ted Packard loaned me his Primaloft insulated jacket and I was hooked.  So now my Mountain Hardware Primaloft jacket always goes with me, you see below.  It literally helped saved my life in one SURVIVAL experience.

 It weighs 12 oz. and feels fantastic when the sun goes down, or when a real cold spell hits.  I use it in my quilt stuff sack to make a good pillow.  You can see many options at  WARM JACKET . In this kind of lightweight jacket I don’t recommend down insulation, rather Primaloft as it will not lose it’s insulation value even when damp or wet.  Remember I’m not recommending a heavy winter ski parka for a backpack trip. It should be lightweight, around 12 oz.

Note also in the above photo my FISHERMEN’S GLOVES — very useful with finger tips out to zip up or down something, operate a camera, read at night in your tent, and of course tie a fishing knot, etc.  They do make a difference.  You can get more information at  FISHING GLOVES 



They certainly are not an essential, but I love to take mine with me to use when gathering firewood, seen in a previous photograph, breaking it over a rock, moving rocks around, handling a hot pot, rolling up my tent (keeping hands clean), etc. as you see below.  They only weigh 3 oz.

Elk skin is better than deer or cowhide as it remains soft and pliable after drying.  If interested get info at  Elk skin gloves

DON’T FORGET YOUR HAT–High Country radiation is more intense.
For the last couple of years I have been using  a waterproof hat you see below.
It’s the Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero hat.  For info click on:  SEATTLE SOMBRERO HAT  It can also be configured to give you more protection from the sun or rain, as seen below.  In my tent at night I unload my pockets into my hat for safekeeping.

For more information and enlarged photos go to  FISHING THE UINTAS
Basically I use a combination rod–spinning/fly fishing, so I have both types of reels, plus an assortment of the lures and flies I have found most effective. 
Total weight = 2 lbs. 2 oz.
You can get all of this and more (I don’t recommend “more”) at your local Outdoor outlet.
I can’t imagine not being able to record and bring home with me the incredible VISIONS OF NATURE & beauty I experience in the High Country–memories I will have with me as long as I live, and be able to share with loved ones.  Of course I’ve kind of gone off the deep end with it as you see below, even my wide angle lens weighing more than my tent,  and camera, lens & tripod weighing more than my BASIC PACK!  My photo equipment for a lightweight backpack now comes to 11 lbs.. with the new enlarged waist pack you’ve already seen.

I do often leave my tripod at home and save 2 lbs. in weight–with all you good photographers SCREAMING, NO, NO, NO!   Most professionals say they never take a photograph without their tripod–and they have BIG ONES, but I’ll have to confess that with fast shutter speeds and my impatience, I rarely use mine, and for self-portraits when I feel a human–like me,  should be in a photograph a  SOLID ROCK or LOG usually is used, with my red bandanna used to level the camera.  I do have one other option that only weighs 4 oz. you see below that I’ll likely use a lot this summer and leave the 2 lb. tripod home.

The screw goes securely into the device–I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO CALL IT!  When used the screw goes into a tree, a branch, a log as seen below.  Then the C-clamp grabs onto it.


The camera is mounted using the screw and and pointed at your subject. It doesn’t take any longer to set up than to set up your tripod. I’ll see if I can find something like this on Amazon…...FOUND ONE!   It’s ridiculously pricey, it is the:  
Novoflex KIT – The Photo Survival Kit
I’ve had my “gadget” kicking around in an old box for probably 50 years and certainly can’t remember where I got it….but it will be used to save me almost 2 lbs. of pack weight.

I’m not recommending my 9 lbs. of photo stuff, as  a small point and shoot camera about the size of a deck of cards will give you incredible quality and is a must.  I do recommend getting a water-proof one, and actually have one, the  PENTAX OPTIO that I did a YouTube video about …Since my odd looking Pentax Optio, wonderful improvements have developed at very reasonable prices…like the FOLLOWING OPTIONS.  

Likely most of you are thinking that your SMART CELL PHONE will do just fine, and you’re probably right as they are incredible–but MAKE SURE AND BRING BACK THE WONDERFUL MEMORIES!

WITH A small 

My old one wore out so I got a new one, a bit larger, weighing 1 lb., but hopefully better.  I always take with me my radio to listen to the news, a talk show, the weather report, and OF COURSE KSL OUTDOORS RADIO each Saturday morning from 6:00-8:00 to make sure Tim, Russ, Navi and Jeff  are ready for my call from the High Uintas.  

This radio didn’t work out to be as good as I thought:  TOO HEAVY & not effective, so for my last backpack for 2015 up Henry’s Fork, I bought another small GRUNDIG pictured below.  It is half the price, only weighs a couple of ounces, and is effective.  Get it at the above link.


Note:  If you get it at that link on Amazon, I’ll earn a small commission and it is cheaper than anywhere else.

One last item I feel is a necessity:  READING MATERIAL
As seen below, for me it usually includes one National Geographic, and often a handful of special articles I rip out of magazines to take with only what I’m interested in, plus my tiny Military version of the scriptures.
Note:  Before leaving for the Uintas around June 4th, I’ll publish in a separate page or section   an article I’m entitling: 
A Fun Filled, Humorous, Tough but Wonderful Journey
In which I reveal what I feel are the  things that still have me backpacking in my 80th year.  They will all be mentioned below, each with a link where they can be  acquired.
1. COD LIVER OIL — This  is AN ESSENTIAL I won’t go on without, which literally kept me from becoming an invalid at 49. Read about my life saving experience in the Anti-Aging Challenge article.  Check out my 30 years of experience described in a photo/essay about where I got so much energy…  COD LIVER EXPERIENCE     This is my preference that you can find at:   COD LIVER If you want to learn more about “The Cod Father–Dale Alexander” click on:  COD FATHER
My experience over 30 years convinces me I would be an arthritic  cripple without this ESSENTIAL!
2.  GLUCOSAMINE and CHONDROITIN plus MSM  – In addition to Cod liver oil, I daily take 4 capsules of this joint formula.  When there is added stress I take a couple more at noon, and another in the evening.  At the conclusion of my cod liver oil experience I mention this important supplement at  EXPERIENCE  For info go to GLUCO/CHOND/MSM  For other options go to OTHER OPTIONS
NOTE:  This worked wonders for years, but has now been supplanted by the following, tiny tablet.

2a.  MOVE FREE ULTRA containing two essentials for joints,  cartilage and youthful skin:  Collagen & Hyaluronic Acid which I discuss in some detail in my Anti-Aging essay. This one that has successfully supplanted for me the Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM joint formula, and so for me is another ESSENTIAL!

3.  WELLNESS FORMULA  This wonderful mostly herbal formula is one of my multi-vitamins.  You take 1-2 daily, but when one feels something is out of balance, you take 3 every 4 hours.  It will either keep you from getting sick if you take it soon enough, or speed your recovery…..ESSENTIAL! 

4.  DEFENSE PLUS —   This is another mostly herbal formula a little different from Wellness, and designed to be taken at the first sign of imbalance, but when backpacking, or otherwise working hard, I take 1/day along with Wellness Formula as my multi-vitamin, both of them contributing to just not getting sick for years, so considered another ESSENTIAL!

5.  COQ10 — An ESSENTIAL SUPPLEMENT— It is a vitamin-like compound also called ubiquinone.  It is an essential component of cells and is necessary for mitochondrial energy production. Years of research has shown that CoQ10 supports healthy cardiovascular and immune system functions in addition to its vital role in energy production.   Normally I take one  100mg. soft gel in the morning everyday, but now with backpacking will up this to 1 400 mg. soft gel daily.  Another ESSENTIAL!

6. ANDRO 400 MAX – This is a formula that stimulates the body to produce testosterone hormone, which is called “The corner stone of Men’s health,” but from the age of about 30 on, its production drops every year contributing to loss of energy, growing a pot-belly,  and loss of muscle mass,  often heart problems, and a loss of a positive attitude, as well as the well known loss of libido–all of it contributing to an acceleration of the aging process.  I discuss in my Aging writing important experience with this supplement–which I now consider another ESSENTIAL ….and it doesn’t have anything to do with sex!
7.  HGH SURGE – Old age comes upon us as we grow in years and the  body  loses its ability to produce essential hormones….in this case Human Growth Hormone.  This and other similar products, mostly composed of important amino acids, plus other nutrients proven to stimulate the human body to produce HGH,  or some say “release” it, has become through trial and error another of my ESSENTIALS, and probably the one that has helped me most maintain my vitality and a younger appearance as most guess me to be15-20 years younger than I am.  Taking it at night, 30 minutes before retiring, helps me sleep better, another important factor in the Anti-Aging Challenge.  In that writing I mention other similar products, but my experience has boiled it down to this one.
8.  CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM, plus other important nutrients for more effective absorption.  This is another I take 30 minutes before going to bed, and it aids greatly in better sleep, as a relaxant, and heart healthy combination, as well as one that strengthens the bones.  I have taken it for at least 20 years.  
For  backpacking this is  added to my ENDUROX for daytime recovery, and alone taken just before going to sleep,  helping me relax and sleep better. It will take care of Restless Leg Syndrome, often a problem with heavy duty hiking.  
In my
Anti-Aging essay I explain that  CALCIUM is the mineral lost most by marathoners–backpackers too and so critical for recovery.
Just one little tidbit:  When I had my hip replacement surgery in 2013, they had to cut off the ball at the end of my femur and replace it with titanium.  Usually it is sawed off….and I asked the Dr. to save it for me as I wanted to mount it on a little block of wood as a trophy.  But he failed me and disposed of it as he said I wouldn’t have wanted it.  Why?  He said my bone was so hard that they couldn’t saw it off, and had to use a hammer and chisel, taking it off in 4 pieces!  He swore he had never seen stronger bones ….and he’s seen a lot of bones!  So, another ESSENTIAL for strong bones, heart health, better sleep, and much more.
Oh, and I chewed him out gently telling him to have the “4 pieces” would have made an even greater trophy!
9.  MAGNESIUM/IRRITABLE LEG SYNDROME/LEG CRAMPS – Now, having mentioned the IMPORTANCE OF SLEEPING, and with heavy duty exercise the need of avoiding leg  cramps and irritable leg syndrome, with which you can’t sleep,  I add one nutrient already mentioned ,  and two complimentary ones to be able to relax and sleep. 
As we grow older we have  an increasingly difficult time getting a good night’s sleep,  which will greatly accelerate the aging process….so often I take a very in-expensive Magnesium soft gel, when my Cal/Mag wasn’t quite enough.  Once in a great while I need also RESTFUL LEGS, and usually only in the mountains, need also LEG CRAMPS.  All very cheap and effective. 
10. Other essentials a little bit of each we get in some of the items mentioned, but us old guys don’t absorb nutrients from food and supplements as well as you young bucks (& does) out there, so we need a little extra:  VITAMINS D3,  E, & B-complex little tiny gel caps that cost almost nothing, but do a big job, as big-time antioxidants, helping to strengthen our immune system, avoiding Alzheimers, dementia, giving us increased energy and more. For more details check out my Anti-Aging writing in a couple of days.
Links:  D3     E      Super B-Complex
I better also include 
From my ANTI-AGING essay:
 I’ll keep it simple and mention quickly what  some also call “The Mother  Hormone,”   which converts into whatever
hormone the body needs and is essential to keep your body in proper balance.  Levels of it are known to fall
precipitously with age with low levels common among those who suffer from
cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and chronic fatigue. It is quite
cheap, a link to it is on my website photo/essay already mentioned.  It’s cheap…get it at:  DHEA
12.  ....and the one that maybe has Okinawanese living actively into old age: 
Quoting again from my longevity writing:
I had heard that it was called by some knowledgeable people, “NATURE’S PERFECT FOOD.”    I did a
bit of research and learned that it is a
food eaten by the famously old, but active, healthy and beautiful  people of Okinawa at the southern tip of
 Chlorella is a
single-cell green algae that grows wild in fresh water.
 It “contains the highest levels among all known foods of dietary nucleic acids (RNA, DNA), which are known to increase cellular energy (ATP) for improved intercellular communication in the body, rejuvenation, detoxification, and rapid healing. For all these reasons, chlorella has been considered by many to be the king (or queen) among superfoods.
I recall the article describing the
long-lived and healthy people in Okinawa, and remember especially mentioning that a
principle part of their diet is YAMS.  The article then went on to chlorella, and gave it the credit for
these healthy people.  But YAMS stuck in
my mind and I wondered, maybe they are the secret to their longevity and
health.  So I take two tablets daily of chlorella, but also eat yams….hoping that one or the other, or
both will do the miracle for me.  So far,
something is working.
It is naturally occurring
chlorophyll and Beta-Carotene, high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and iron.  It is important to get a product in which the
cell wall has been broken down mechanically to aid digestibility.         Chlorella is  available at  Amazon.
For backpacking we focus on dehydrated foods that don’t weigh very much.  The tendency certainly is to not have any fresh vegetables or fruits–crucial as being rich in anti-oxidants, as well as nearly the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals.  I make up for this deficiency, in addition to the two “wellness/defense” items I use as multi-vitamins, with a mixture of two products made up of a wide array of organic fruits/vegetables/herbs, I picture them below:
I’m sure most of you have heard on the radio commercials for TEXAS SUPERFOOD, which is a great product of high quality, but also a bit expensive….so I purchase the powder version, and not liking much the taste (it can be mixed with soups & such and works fine), fill my own capsules (a capsule filler, & empty capsules can be acquired at health food stores…I use 00 size) and take 3 capsules twice a day.  Of course you can buy TEXAS SUPEFOOD CAPSULES too.   The “BERRY GREEN SUPERFOOD” can be mixed with powdered fruit juices I use at least twice a day on the trail, using also electrolyte replacers as pictured below, CRUCIAL FOR HEAVY DUTY WORK!  Better than Gatorade!
Each tube of  a different flavor, holds large tablets, each for making 8 oz. of an electrolyte rich drink, to which I add the “Berry Green Superfood”  powder.
15.  …..and one more to AVOID GETTING SICK:
Again from my ANTI-AGING essay:
When feeling like a
cold or flu is coming on I also begin sucking on….
COLD-EEZE lozenges-a homeopathic product with zinc as the
miracle producer.   It is the same
formula as Zicam Cold Formula, but
cheaper, and I think better.  Walmart has
its version too, at a low price.  The
critical recommendation being to start before you get sick.  In my case, even when in a stressful
situation that might get me sick, I start sucking!    But, if already sick, this product will
help, along with Wellness Formula and
Defense Plus, to get you well faster
than would otherwise be the case.  You
can get them at Walgreens, Walmarts, your local pharmacy or shopping market, as
well as through Amazon clicking on the above link.
NOTE:  By now, you’re beginning to think this is ridiculous…but MANY HAVE ASKED me  WHERE I GET SO MUCH ENERGY & STRENGTH IN MY 80th YEAR?.….so I’m giving  my answers….and through trial and error I have experimented with all these nutrients (they are not medicines, nor drugs), but FOOD,  and I have persisted with those that I feel have a palpable effect on my body, mind and spirit (my attitudes).  Maybe some of them could be eliminated, but I feel so incredibly good and blessed–now without pain for the first time in 30 years, that….
….. I’M VERY HESITANT  TO SACRIFICE ANY OF THEM, and prefer  giving up a lot of other things to pay for them–like Mountain Dew, junk food, most movies, nice new impressive clothes, Caribbean  cruises,  Alaskan, Hawaiian, or European tours,  or other vacations, etc.
So for the person who still wants to do heavy duty things, like backpacking in the High Country–that is like doing a half-marathon or more every day, PAY ATTENTION A LITTLE LONGER with a few specialty items only used for backpacking or running half-marathons, or such. 
  16.  ENDUROX R4 — I have used this recovery drink for years.  On the trail I take one drink half-way thru my hiking day,  and then a good dose at camp in the afternoon.  I always add to it Cal-Max (discussed already), and Glutamine (mentioned next).  Studies with marathon runners show that the mineral lost most is calcium.  Also studies show that taking Glutamine after a race helps avoid sickness.  

17.   GLUTAMINE — One study reported in RUNNERS WORLD explains that marathon runners that take 5 mg. of GLUTAMINE  after a race have  a much reduced chance of getting sick–with  cold, flu or respiratory illness.  A backpacker doing 10 miles above 10,000 ft. with 40 lbs. on his or her  back needs this supplement for recovery.  It is tasteless. I mix it with my ENDUROX,  and/or NUUN electrolyte drink or fruit drink.
18.  ENDUROX EXCEL  This is one supplement with which I feel a very positive benefit helping me be more alert and energized. Reports indicate that it can improve your output by 15%.   I take two tablets each morning when I’m going to have a hard work day, or when I’m going to be on the trail.  It’s composition is vitamin E–an antioxidant that helps speed recovery,  and Ciwujia root known to extend endurance and bolster the immune system. 
 19.  SPORT LEGS – This supplement is effective for runners, or backpackers as it supports optimal function of your lactate energy system, usually taken after exercise to minimize muscle soreness. 
After a tough day, I begin and end using marathoner’s supplements to get me going and then to recover.
Once having set up my tent, and taken my recovery drinks, I put to soak the dehydrated dinner to soak so it won’t need so much cooking, and do the same for what will be my breakfast the next morning.     
 20.  The FRS  you see in the picture provides energy on the trail–and many times it has given me the energy to persist and get to my destination when I didn’t think I’d make it.  
See a wide variety at FRS OPTIONS   
 I personally like the chews to use along the trail. 


Early in the backpacking season they haven’t hatched out yet, or are not sufficiently developed to be a problem….but by July, they come out in full force, and if you don’t really love the mountains, and/or haven’t come prepared,  it can get real tough and even drive some to the edge of insanity.  Sadly, others have such a miserable experience that they never go again!

Obviously, that hasn’t happened to me….or, some might say that the “sanity” part maybe has gone too far already!….. but best do what will let you have a great experience.

So, either go early in the season, or late….like from August on when the little critters have mostly run their life cycle, or freezing temperatures at night have finished them off.

But, one essential becomes MOSQUITO REPELLENT a couple of brands seen below.  Go down to the caption for crucial details.

The two I recommend are seen above, both with the effective ingredient  being DEET, and believe me you should get the 98% or better the 100% Deet version. The 30% or such just won’t do the job.  For those of you who are against such “poisons” I’ll repeat again what I’ve said before,
“I would by far rather risk some minor effect having deet on my skin, than die EATEN ALIVE BY MOSQUITOES!” 
Note:  There are other alternatives, but none of them have worked good enough for me.

AND REMEMBER:  It is because of these tiny pests that we get tents with mosquito netting.


I can’t really end this without another word about nutrition–the kind that will cost you nothing, but give big results. THIS IS NOT TONGUE-IN-CHEEK!  The two items I mention below aren’t the reason my heart is healed, as the irregular heart beat and high blood pressure disappeared during the winter and early spring, but their incredible nutritive qualities are going to help keep me above ground and hustling.

First up, DANDELIONS…….

 that I have called the “Spinach of the Weed World.”  Others have called them “The Gourmet Weed.”  Of course you have them all around your home, at the park, and also in the High Uintas Wilderness,  at all but the extreme elevations.  They come and go but if they are around where you’re hiking or camping, think seriously about them.  The leaves and the flowers can be used  to increase the nutrition of your soup, or whatever. They can also be eaten raw as a salad. They have amazing nutritional qualities as the links below will demonstrate.

Here you see me  adding dandelions to a pot of macaroni soup.  THEY HAVE AMAZING NUTRITIONAL & MEDICINAL VALUE. ranked in the top 4 of all green vegetables, and the 3rd food in vitamin A content, only topped by cod liver oil and beef liver. The flower and leaves are high in the Vitamin B’s, and effective for dealing with stress. Also rich in potassium, iron and calcium, with medicinal benefits to cure high blood pressure, hepatitis, etc. and rich in enzymes to aid digestion. Of ALL VEGETABLES dandelions rank 9th best.  I eat a handful daily, some in a salad, and more just slightly cooked along with swiss chard.  For incredible information click on:  FREE NUTRITION


which you have among your flowers, and all over your vegetable garden.  You likely even HATE IT!  Below you see this old enemy–soon to become a cherished friend, and a shot with some cleaned and ready for my salad.

Purslane has 6 times more vitamin E than spinach, 7 times more beta-carotene than carrots, and is rich in vitamin C, glutathione, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, tryptophan, and has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy plant. It is also rich in protein.   Purslane  may have positive effects on the brain and may aid in such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and migraines. For other medicinal uses see: MEDICINAL    American Indians used the plant as a poultice for burns, juice for earaches, tea for headaches and stomachaches.  For more information click on WONDER WEED.  It has a very bland and agreeable taste.  I usually eat it as one of the ingredients in my “rainbow salad” each day.  It can be added to soaps and other cooked dishes.  Purslane is not a High Uintas Wilderness weed, but grows all over the world.  I discovered it in Guatemala where it is called “verdolaga.”

Well, that’s about it……

 I imagine many of you will be impressed that it’s all pretty complicated and maybe expensive. But, once you get the routine down, it’s more than simple–and believe me IT’S A LOT BETTER THAN THE OTHER OPTION!  

You also end up saving a lot of money by eliminating some of the less healthy food options, and you’ll save a bundle having less health problems.  Don’t get me wrong as I have been caught eating at McDonalds once in a while, and, as I say in my LIGHTWEIGHT BACKPACKING photo/essay and elsewhere, I love Taco Bell, and how can you not like Mountain Dew?

OTHER CRUCIAL CATEGORIES, LIKE, EXTRA CLOTHES, TOILETRIES & EMERGENCY KITS & FOOD are covered in other related posts mentioned in the beginning, and will be added here with updated & improved versions as I prepare my first backpack for 2015 and take photographs of each step….so check once in a while for updates.
Backpacking is the only way to get here–so pack up and let’s get going!