I took my boys camping a few weeks ago, and we did an 18-mile loop around Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina. I brought a few extra pieces of gear to test out, but the picture above is my go-to backcountry setup. I know some will say it’s overkill and you don’t need a big knife, an axe, or a big old chopper. I didn’t list everything I carried, just some highlights.
Over the years my gear rotation has changed, but you would be hard-pressed to find me in the backcountry without the stuff above! Check out and explore why each item made the cut for our backpacking trip around the highest peak east of the Mississippi. In each description, you’ll find the unique features that set these tools apart and why they are essential for our adventure around Mt. Mitchell.
If you are interested in the route, check out the listing and details on ALLTrails: Buncombe Horse Trail, Mt. Mitchell, Deep Gap, and Colbert Ridge Loop. We started at the Colbert Ridge Trail head and got the insane climb out of the way the first afternoon.
Tough Grid Paracord
- Description: This is a superior quality paracord that boasts an impressive 750lb strength rating. Its intricate woven design ensures extreme durability and flexibility, making it a great companion for any outdoor adventure.
- Why I Like It: The Tough Grid Paracord’s versatility shines in survival situations, from building shelters to emergency medical applications.
- Highlight: Its reflective tracers that enhance visibility in low-light scenarios.
- Description: The Leatherman PS is a compact, multi-tool device, providing 8 essential tools including a knife, pliers, scissors, and more, all packed into a pocket-sized unit.
- Why I Like It: The portability and comprehensive functionality make this tool a dependable addition to any camping kit.
- Highlight: The keychain-compatible design for immediate access.
Garmin GPSMAP 64sx
- Description: A top-tier handheld GPS device offering both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems for accurate and reliable location tracking, even in the most remote locations.
- Why I Like It: The device’s high-resolution screen and preloaded maps ensure I never lose my way in the wilderness.
- Highlight: The wireless connectivity feature, enabling sharing of waypoints, tracks, and routes with other compatible devices.
Silky Gomboy Folding Saw 130mm
- Description: This is a compact, lightweight folding saw that offers superior cutting power with its sharp and resilient Japanese steel blade.
- Why I Like It: Its combination of compact size and robust cutting power makes it invaluable for handling wood and other camping-related tasks.
- Highlight: The unique rubber-handle that ensures grip comfort and reduces fatigue during extensive use.
Bertucci DX3 Quartz Watch
- Description: The Bertucci DX3 Quartz Watch is a rugged, field-tested timepiece, featuring a durable resin band and a quartz movement for accurate timekeeping.
- Why I Like It: Its robust construction and timeless design make it a reliable and stylish accessory in the outdoors.
- Highlight: The luminous hands and markers for excellent readability even in the dark.
Black Diamond Equipment Spot 400
- Description: This is a high-performance headlamp, delivering up to 400 lumens of adjustable brightness, enabling clarity in low-light conditions.
- Why I Like It: Its blend of power, battery efficiency, and waterproof design makes nighttime navigation safe and easy.
- Highlight: The PowerTap technology for quick brightness adjustments.
BPS Knives Raven
- Description: The Raven by BPS Knives is a top-notch camping knife featuring a high-carbon steel blade and a comfortable wooden handle.
- Why I Like It: The balance between sharpness, durability, and handle comfort makes this knife a trustworthy tool in the wild.
- Highlight: The leather sheath that ensures safe storage and transport.
Exotac Fire Sleeve
- Description: A protective, waterproof lighter case that helps to extend your lighter’s lifespan and functionality in all weather conditions.
- Why I Like It: The Fire Sleeve ensures I always have a reliable source of ignition, irrespective of the weather.
- Highlight: The gas lock that allows the lighter to stay lit without holding the button.
Terävä Skrama 240
- Description: This is a heavy-duty wilderness blade, perfect for chopping tasks with its robust carbon steel blade and ergonomic handle.
- Why I Like It: The Skrama’s hefty blade makes quick work of firewood preparation and other camp tasks.
- Highlight: It’s an absolute beast, do it all backcountry chopper!
Snow Peak Titanium Spork
- Description: A lightweight, durable spork made from premium titanium, ideal for camp meals.
- Why I Like It: Its combined utility as a spoon and fork saves on packing space and weight, which is key in outdoor adventures.
- Highlight: The polished titanium surface that provides a pleasant eating experience.
Spyderco PM 2 Digi Camo
- Description: A tactical folding knife featuring a distinctive camo-patterned handle and a high-performance steel blade. This is a real do everything.
- Why I Like It: The reliable locking mechanism and sharp blade ensure safe and efficient cutting tasks.
- Highlight: The one hand lock is invaluable in the field.
- Description: A durable, refillable fire starter with a large ferrocerium rod, excellent for sparking fires in the toughest conditions.
- Why I Like It: Its reliable ignition and durability make starting fires a breeze, even in challenging weather conditions.
- Highlight: The built-in tinder storage compartment providing an all-in-one fire starting kit.
Streamlight 88087 ProTac 90
- Description: This is a versatile, high-intensity flashlight providing up to 300 lumens with a unique 90-degree angle head.
- Why I Like It: The ProTac 90’s angled design offers convenient hands-free use, enhancing usability in the field.
- Highlight: The TEN-TAP programming allows customizable switch operation.
Procamptek Fast Fire Stick
- Description: A compact, weatherproof fire starter stick that easily ignites and burns even in wet conditions.
- Why I Like It: Its ability to ignite under adverse conditions ensures a warm campfire every time.
- Highlight: This will catch fire even if soaking wet and the stick last forever!
It’s clear that each piece of equipment carries its weight in value, utility, and performance. From the strength and versatility of the Tough Grid Paracord, to the compact yet versatile Leatherman PS multi-tool, and even the precision and reliability of the Garmin GPSMAP 64sx, each item ensures that you are prepared for every situation the wilderness might present.
Small conveniences like the Snow Peak Titanium Spork make meals enjoyable, while survival tools such as the Procamptek Fast Fire Stick guarantee a warm campfire in any weather. The thoughtful design and high-quality materials used in each piece, coupled with their unique functionality, make these items indispensable for any outdoor adventure.
Investing in the right gear not only enhances your safety and comfort but also allows you to fully enjoy the beauty and excitement of nature. Remember, each hike is an opportunity to test your skills, enjoy the scenery, and make unforgettable memories – and having the right gear with you makes that journey a whole lot better.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.