A Pathfinder Gathering Gear Guide

I’d like to provide some insight for those wondering what they should consider bringing to a Pathfinder Gathering. There’s no set list of required gear but you’ll want to bring the 10 Cs, a bit of food, some basic camping equipment, and well… allow me to expand on the details – please read on.

Background

2015 will mark my third Pathfinder Gathering, I’m an experienced backpacker and survival skills enthusiast – and I have a seasoned checklist of every item I will be bringing to such an event.

Admittedly, at my first Pathfinder Gathering, I wasn’t “smoothin’ it”. I was a newcomer to the experience, unsure of what to expect and flagrantly unorganized. Even though I had enough gear for a scout troop packed into my vehicle, I didn’t have all the right things. Half of what I bought went underutilized. I still had to run to Walmart because it was apparent that there were a few things that I needed. Lessons were learned, and my second trip was much smoother.

For me, the gathering is a time to practice survival skills and harmonize with the outdoors, therefore I choose to refrain from many of the luxuries of car camping. You won’t find an oversized tent, air mattress, or fancy grill in my kit. I will make a few exceptions for select comfort items, like a chair and a cooler (so I and my bratwursts can chill).

My mentality is somewhere between woods trekker and backpacker. I’ll be bringing only essential gear, what I can comfortably carry in my pack and pockets (shelter, food, water, tools, etc). Any additional trips to my vehicle will only be for comfort items that I could do without. My personal goal is to only make 2 trips from vehicle to campsite for complete camp setup.

Things to Think About

  • A small number of folks bring campers, most use tents or tarps to shelter in.
  • Depending on where you decide to camp you may have to hump all of your gear a few 100 meters from the parking area to your campsite, or you might not. My site last year was about 200 meters each way.
  • If you like cold drinks, as I do, bring a cooler. Ice is available at the camp store.
  • In years past there’s been hot food available, but I don’t think it is there for all meals.

Suggested Equipment Listed Below

Necessities

  • The 10Cs (Cutting Tool, Combustion, Cover, Container, Cordage, Candle, Cotton, Compass, Cargo Tape, Canvas Needle)
  • Gear transportation apparatus – I recommend a backpack unless you have other methods you’re comfortable with.
  • Shelter – A tarp, tent, hammock, etc.
  • Sleep system – Sleeping bag, wool blanket, sleeping pad, etc.
  • Clothing for the duration of the gathering – It’s July in Ohio, so plan on humidity, 75-90+ degree daytime temps, overnight lows in the 60s.
  • Food and drinks for the duration of the gathering – There’s limited food available for purchase at the event. You could drive into town for a meal, but it’s not convenient.
  • Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.
  • Footwear – comfortable hiking shoes/boots, you’re going to be doing a good bit of walking each day
  • Notepad and pen – There are many opportunities for learning and useful note-taking.

Comfort and Convenience

  • Bottled Water
  • Other beverages (like Gatorade)
  • Cookware and utensils
  • Firewood – Firewood is available from the campground but at a premium.
  • Hatched or axe – for processing firewood
  • Jacket or sweatshirt – for the chilly nights
  • Bath towel
  • Shower shoes – Unless you’re a barefoot kind of person (by the way I think that’s beyond gross), you’ll want some sandals.
  • Cash – There are many vendors with fantastic gear, many have limited credit card availability.
  • Hat – One that can shade from the sun and keep off a little rain.
  • Rain gear – I like to have a poncho, but in the past, there have been alternative plans for inclement weather.
  • Bug repellent – July in Ohio is prime mosquito season.
  • Camera – to capture moments and educational ideas
  • Plastic store bags – They have a 1000 uses, but I like to use them for taking clothes, towel, and soap to the shower.
  • Dirty laundry bag
  • Phone charger – The sites are primitive, but there are electric outlets in the pavilion.
  • Spare flashlight batteries
  • Wet wipes – I like to have clean hands when I’m eating.
  • Work gloves – for clearing brush, gathering fire materials or building shelter
  • 5-10 foot of paracord – to practice your knots
  • Knife sharpener

Luxuries

  • Coffee, tea, drink mixers, etc.
  • Cook Stove
  • Cooler
  • Camp Furniture
  • Fishing gear (pole, bait, Ohio license)

Additional Considerations for Kids

  • Orange safety whistle on a breakaway lanyard
  • A knife (if your child knows proper handling techniques) – I recommend the Mora Bushcraft Orange for a first knife, it’s blaze orange so chances of misplacing it are slim.
  • Kid-friendly snacks and drinks

In Conclusion

Ultimately you can haul any gizmo, gadget or contrivance you’d like to the gathering, but ask yourself how it will benefit your experience. Learning new skills is about doing more with less, and what is learned will be forgotten if not exercised.

Notice: this is NOT an official resource of the Pathfinder Gathering, everything contained in this post are just suggestions of the author.

Comments Welcome ;)

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