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HomeHikingColin Fletcher's Gear Record: Then and Now

Colin Fletcher’s Gear Record: Then and Now


Colin Fletcher is well known as the daddy of contemporary backpacking. The co-author of The Full Walker Quantity 4, final printed in 2002, he helped popularize the usage of gear lists and kit weights to prepare and scale back the load of backpacking gear. The content material of that e book nonetheless influences my backpack gear choices in the present day.

In the summertime of 1959, Fletcher walked over 1000 miles by way of the deserts and mountains of California, from Mexico within the south to Oregon within the north. His journey lasted for six months, during which as he writes, “my pack was my home.”

I lately got here throughout Fletcher’s gear checklist which he printed in 1960, in Discipline and Stream Journal.  I’ve reproduced it under in two components: the primary half which he used to backpack in scorching climate and desert situations, and the second, a listing of kit that he added when strolling throughout the mountains in colder climate. That journey is chronicled in his e book, Thousand Mile Summer season.

Whereas Fletcher’s gear checklist is enjoyable to learn by way of and was exceptional for the time, I assumed it’d be amusing to take a position about what his gear checklist would seem like in the present day, with the most recent devices, clothes, and backpacking tools out there to long-distance hikers. There may be fairly a distinction between then and now, which I’m positive you’ll recognize.

Colin Fletcher’s 1960 Gear Record

When Fletcher drafted his gear lists, the notion of “base gear weight” (gear however no meals or consumables) or “skin-out weight” (every part together with gear, meals, consumables, and the garments you’re sporting) didn’t exist but. That stated, the next gear checklist is a reasonably good estimate of what we’d now name his base backpacking weight, which incorporates simply his gear, the clothes he carried, and digicam tools, minus meals.

The bottom weight of his scorching climate gear totals 569 oz or 35.6 kilos. It is a completely respectable pack weight, contemplating that he was carrying an early down mummy sleeping bag that weighed 90 ounces (5 lbs 10 oz) and a modified exterior body backpack that weighed 67 ounces (4 lbs 3 oz) however may haul as much as 80 kilos. Fletcher stored his gear weight down by cowboy tenting with out a tent or sleeping pad through the first a part of his journey, discovering comfortable locations to sleep on, by sleeping bare, and solely utilizing his further clothes for floor insulation when required.

Gadgets Weight (oz)
Metal cup 3
Margarine container 2
Two nesting cooking pots 20
Digital camera 2 and 1/4 x 2 and 1/4 32
Ok-2 filter in case 2
Digital camera lens brush 1
Writing supplies 12
Digital camera, 35mm 26
Six Rolls 120 movie, b&w 7
Rest room articles 14
Moccasins 18
Rest room paper 7
Six rolls 135 movie, coloration 9
Towel 2
Digital camera tripod` 14
Publicity meter 6
Shorts 3
Whipcord pants 31
Woolen Sweater 34
Poncho 19
Detergent container 2
Salts and Pepper Holder 2
Fork 1
Spoon 2
Sugar container 2
Two pairs socks 7
Spare shirt 9
Workers 20
Waterproof matchsafe 1
Nylon twine (30 ft) 2
Spare spectales, 2 flashlight bulbs 2 oz 2
Guide matches (6 books) 1
Nylon boot laces 1
Small scarf 1
Snakebite package 1
Bandana 1
String shirt 9
Paperback e book 6
Carborundum stone 3
Binoculars, 6 x 30 14
Cellophane tape 1
Compass 5
Boot wax 2
Fly dope 2
First-aid package 3
Pockets (w/ can opener) 6
Flashlight with batteries 5
Mummy sleeping bag 90
Three half-gallon water canteens 39
Backpack (modified exterior body) 67
Whole (oz) 569
Whole in Kilos 35.6

Fletched would hike for a couple of week at a time, carrying roughly 10 kilos of meals between resupplies at small shops or submit places of work, the place he’d forwarded meals. He used water purification tablets, in all probability iodine to deal with his water, and pre-cached water in a number of desert areas. As well as, he had the flexibility to hold as much as 1.5 gallons of water at a time in three half-gallon aluminum canteens, since this was earlier than the age of sentimental water bottles or path angels.

Added Gear for Mountainous Terrain

Fletchers Gear List Additions for the Mountains
Fletcher’s Gear Record Additions for the Mountains

Like all good backpacker, Fletcher solely carried what he wanted by way of the desert after which added further gear to his pack when he needed to hike in cooler climate at larger elevations within the mountains. Along with heavier clothes, Fletcher favored to catch trout to enhance his food plan. He additionally used a white fuel range within the mountains, as an alternative of burning sagebrush, as a result of it was much less of a problem to make use of and way more dependable to prepare dinner with. White fuel was out there on the shops he resupplied at in these days, though I doubt it’s in the present day. The whole weight of his further chilly climate/mountain gear (see under) comes to simply over 10 kilos.

Merchandise Weight (oz)
Tent, stakes, poles 49
Longjohns 9
Parka 22
Woolen helmet 3
Woolen gloves 4
Fishing equipment 6
Fly reel 7
Heavy woolen shirt 16
Fly-rod case, aluminum 9
Fly-rod 4
Heavy woolen socks 5
Spinning reel 9
Gasoline range and canopy 14
Heavy wollen scarf 5
White-gas container 4
Whole (oz) 166
Whole in Kilos 10.4

A Fashionable Tackle Fletcher’s 1000 Mile Gear Record

If Colin Fletcher have been to hike his Thousand Mile Summer season Route over in the present day in 2022, what would his gear checklist seem like and the way a lot wouldn’t it weigh?

Right here’s a stab at a contemporary gear checklist for him that replaces his:

  • heavy pictures tools with an iPhone 13 Professional Max(the picture high quality is actually unbelievable)
  • cooking pots and white fuel range with a lighter weight canister range and nesting cookset
  • fly rod, reel, and spinning reel with a Tenkara fly fishing setup
  • his massive 4 with a lot lighter weight options together with a multi-use poncho tarp, a foam sleeping pad, and heat down sleeping bag, and a backpack able to hauling all his gear, meals, and 1.5 gallons of water when required.

These adjustments reduce his gear weight in half and illustrate how a lot has modified by way of backpacking gear and pictures between 1960 and 2022, some 60 years later.

Further substitutions may also be made for the gear he carried on the mountainous/larger altitude portion of his journey with the inclusion of a freestanding tent, lighter weight clothes, and a a lot less complicated and lighter weight fishing setup. These would have dropped his gear weight from 10.4 kilos down to five.8 kilos, which can be respectable, contemplating the added consolation and comfort that these fashionable gadgets would have offered.

Wrap Up

This was a enjoyable train that illustrates Colin Fletcher’s ingenuity in 1960 in addition to the advantage of extra fashionable gear for long-distance adventures. In the event you’ve by no means learn any of Colin Fletcher’s path memoirs, I’d encourage you to present Thousand Mile Summer season, a attempt, since Fletcher was a gifted author.  The Man Who Walked By way of Time (Kindle, Audible, Paperback, Hardcover) is one other one in all my favorites, one which I reread each few years as a result of it’s so good.

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