@ALTKey the best piece of advice I have ever read was asking yourself what is the absolute worst case scenario you could be in if you don't bring a piece of gear. If it isn't that bad, then don't bring it. We tend to pack our fears (I bring a very large medical kit), but if a situation isn't that bad then don't pack it. Ounces = pounds = pain. Beyond that, the question is how much do you want to spend for lighter gear?
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I know you said you have narrowed it down already to the Sirrus and Mira, but have you looked at the Skarab/Skimmer series? They have the hydration reservoir you are looking for and the magnetic tube holder. They also have 2 trekking pole loops and a Styrofoam back pad that is removable. I love this pack. The only down side is that they don't have hip belt pockets. I highly recommend the Skarab 22.
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I was kicking this idea around, please let me know if you like it: Hiking In-Ten-Tions by NickC I don’t know about you, but I love the outdoors. The smell of pine trees and fresh air away from cities brings back memories of when I was a kid. It was a memorable and formative part of my life. Today, I enjoy doing the same thing as I did back then, the only difference is that I have a plan. The title Hiking In-Ten-Tions is a play on words. It is your plan or intent of what you will be doing in the back country, but it can be expressed in ten “tions.” The following items are based off of the 10 essentials that many of us already use but branded with an easy to remember acronym: LINCHPINS-M. In a perfect world, I would go on an excursion with just the shirt on my back and the shoes on my feet. As I have gotten older this is not enough. The “what ifs” in life are always in the back of my mind. What if I am out longer than I expected? What if I become hungry or thirsty and cannot provide for these needs? What if I become injured? Having a plan and using the items in LINCHPINS-M allows me to not only enjoy the day somewhat carefree, but to also have a backup plan if Murphy’s Law happens. These are defined as the following: Living Condition: a way to bring along or create a shelter. The human body can only survive three hours in extreme weather without a proper way to be protected from the elements. By planning on bringing an emergency bivvy in case you are out over night or a small tarp to cover up if it rains is essential for a successful hike. Insulation: Going along with a shelter system of some sort is being able to regulate your body heat. Having the correct clothing for the extremes that are forecasted is another important item to bring. Navigation: On a well-marked trail that you have experience traveling on, navigation is less important. However, what if it is a new trail or you are going into the wilderness? Bringing a fully charged GPS and/or a map and compass can make all the difference if you get turned around in the woods. Combustion: the ability to start a fire is another important item to plan for and bring along while in the woods. Fire allows for a person to regulate temperature, cook food, signal for help, and can bring a boost to morale. Have at least two ways to make fire in case one fails or is lost. Hydration: as a rule, a person can survive three days without water, but if the climate is extreme, that rule is severely truncated, not to mention those days are going to suck if you are dehydrated. Bring along more water than you think you’ll need and a way to collect more. A water filter or purification tablets are easiest, but a metal water bottle with a way to start fire to boil water is also an option. Protection: I love knives and always have. Bringing a small knife along can serve many purposes. Along with a sturdy fixed blade to process wood or use on a ferro rod, a small knife can be used to dig out splinter, cut strings off gear, or slice up summer sausage on-trail and at camp. Going along with this, if the area warrants, bear spray is another form of protection, for animals or from other people. Many people gravitate towards a firearm, but bear spray does not require a license and is more effective. Just make sure you test it out with a short burst, pointing it away from you, so you know it works if the situation arises. Illumination: If you are out longer that you expected and it gets dark, a headlamp or flashlight with charged batteries can be a lifesaver while navigating back home or to the trailhead. Nutrition: Let’s face it, hiking can burn a lot of calories. While a person can technically live for three weeks without food, malnutrition is no joke. A person can do insane things while hungry not to mention a cranky person is not enjoying nature. Sun Protection: Yes, this is an almost copy of the aforementioned “protection” category, but I needed a phrase to make the acronym work. Protection from the sun by using long sleeves/pants or sunscreen and a hat are vital to maintaining body temp and protecting from injury. Medication: This word is supposed to spark the medical side of a hike i.e. a first aid kit. If you have daily prescriptions, bring them. If you have a headache, bring a couple ibuprofen. Alcohol prep pads, bandaids, gauze, a snake bite kit, scissors, safety pins, an ace bandage, etc are all additional items to have with you in case of injury to yourself or to use on people with you. At the very least, it will protect from infection until you can get to safety. So, these are my opinion of what everyone should have in their hiking intentions; their plan to have a successful outdoor excursion. A small backpack should be able to do the job with minimal weight. Experiment with what works for you and as always, enjoy the fresh air.
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