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Darrenís Gear List

Posted by Darren Bush on 7/10/2013 to Camping Skills & Tips

I usually donít like gear lists. Itís kinda like listing your criteria for a spouse ó things you might like I may not like. Itís a very personal thing. Then again, itís not bad to start with something, and hereís something. Weíve gathered different lists from different people, and find that this works out well. Pick and choose and youíll come up with something nice.

There is no substitute for experience. If you want to develop the best gear list, go outside a lot, use your stuff, and after a few trips, you find you leave a lot of stuff behind. Then again, on the bigger trips, you bring more luxuries. A gear list is flexible. Funny thing is I find myself continually learning what works and what doesnít, and how much stuff to leave behind (most of it).

My current trend is that I find myself buying tougher, more expensive gear, but buying it less and less. I used to buy a new light hiking boot (made by a large unnamed company with a swooshish logo) just about every spring, but found that they just donít last (thatís my experience anyway). Then five years ago I bought a pair of Vasque Sundowners, and Iím on my fifth season with them, and theyíre wonderful. Sure, they cost twice as much, but then again, Iím already money ahead.

My other current trend is to bring more simple things that donít weigh very much along. I find 50 feet of parachute cord has a number of uses. Anyway, on to the listÖ

Tandem Canoes

Novacraft Prospector 16 in Royalex (for river trips)

Arbor Vitae Fernwood Special

Curtis Companion (15′ solo-tandem)

(this space available Ė stay tuned)

Solo Canoes

Novacraft Super Nova in Royalex (for river trips)

Blackhawk Starship

Bell Merlin II

Astute observers will notice I donít have a tandem boat over 16 feet long. Non-astute observers will know it after reading the last sentence. I donít have more than two people to a canoe on most occasions, and I donít need the room nor the extra weight. I like 16 foot canoes. If itís good enough for Bill Mason, itís good enough for me.

I like the Fernwood because of aesthetics (itís gorgeous) and also because it paddles so nicely. Iím loving my time in it, and I find Iím paddling it more and more as a solo canoe, Canadian style. The closest boat we sell is the Trader from American Traders.

If I didnít already have a 15 foot canoe, Iíd buy a Bob Special. But that is prohibited under the Marriage Preservation and Canoe Non-Proliferation Act of 1998.

I know we donít sell Blackhawk canoes, theyíre no longer made. The closest thing in production would be a Bell Magic or Wenonah Voyager. Long and fast, in essence.

No Wenonahs, even though we sell a lot of them. Again, thatís prohibited under the MP and CN-P Act of 1998.

Essentials (carry with you or in thwart bag or small knapsack):

Map(s) of Area

Compass (2, one big, one small spare)

Waterproof matches or matches in a waterproof case)

Firestarter. I like cotton balls with petroleum jelly rubbed into them and stored in a film canister.

Water bottle

Knife (small folding lock blade of some sort)


Sunglasses and bandana

Repellants (insect) and sunscreen

Small first aid kit (like Adventure Medical Kit Optimist)

Binoculars (small)


What I carry for shelter depends wildly on the situation. I have the following which I mix and match depending on conditions.

Sierra Designs Hyperlight AST

Moss Titan GT

Moss Heptawing (the wee one)

Moss 19′ Parawing

Kelty Mantra 7

Frost River Whelan Lean-To

I believe that unless youíre travelling ultralight, you need at least one tent and one tarp except in the late fall, when there are no bugs and you can enjoy sleeping under the stars. I have slept in the Whalen Lean-To in some pretty chilly weather and with a fire in the proper spot, itís great.

Sleeping Stuff

Big Agnes Lost Ranger or BA Horse Thief)

Camp Rest LE (the most comfortable mattress thatís not a futon)

Thermarest Standard Long if Iím travelling light

Paddling Gear

This stuff is what Iíve narrowed it down to for canoe trips.

Turtle Paddle Ottertail

Turtle Paddle Guide Paddle

The traditional paddle has become my favorite for long distances for reasons of efficiency and control. I used to think that the wood size constrained native indiginous canoeists to long, narrow blades, but I have come to the conclusion that if short, squatty paddles were better, they would have found a way to make them over the course of a thousand years or so. AnywayÖ


Throw Bag

Stuff Sacks for Carrying Gear

Portage Pack

Small Portage Pack (for solo trips)

Cascade Designs Boundary Bag 70

Thwart Bag

Kitchen Stuff

Plastic cup (none of those lousy mouth-burning Sierra cups! Ick!)

Plastic bowl (from thrift store)

Lexan Utensils

Duluth Pack Kitchen Roll to hold other utensils

Trangia Stove and fuel

MSR Alpine Cook Kit

Svea 123 (my ancient stove that wonít die

) Lodge Dutch Oven (2 quart, 8″)

MSR Miniworks water filter

Dr. Bronnerís biodegradable soap

Scotch pad and small washcloth

Salamander Kitchen Sink (folding sink)

Clothes and Stuff

Quick Dry Pants (nylon)

Long underwear

Not-so-long underwear

One t-shirt, too ugly to wear in public

One t-shirt, respectable enough to wear in public

Ex-Officio Baja Shirt (quick dry)

Kokatat Paclite Gore Parka

Boots Ė Vasque Sundowners

Lots of socks (Smartwool)

Smartwool Wool Stocking Cap

Fleece vest for layering

Things to Write and Draw With

Ritchie Wet Notes Waterproof Paper

Rite in the Rain Sketch Pad (also waterproof)

Pencils (I can sharpen them with my knife).

Iím sure there are things Iím forgetting. All in all, like I said, itís my list, no reason to think itís gospel or anything.

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