Gearing Up: Camping and Climbing a 14er

Editor’s note: Today, Lisa Martinez continues her ongoing series about an amazing adventure she has planned: a “14er” up Pikes Peak. LMH

My first opportunities to experience the elements unlike ever before were as a carefree high school student during two Youth Group wilderness trips to West Virginia. Each week-long trip was spent climbing, repelling, hiking, camping, and white water rafting. It was amazing, but not without mishaps either. When I say braving the outdoors unlike ever before, I’m referring to carrying my vacation home with me on my back, including: Parts of the camp (like the tent, stove, etc), sleeping arrangements, meals, apparel, toiletries, and everything else needed for the week. And no, there aren’t bathrooms along the New River either; but don’t worry, that’s all I have to say about that.

Camping Gear

No longer having the body and bounce-back of a teenager, and as an Asthmatic hiking up to an altitude over 14,000 ft with depleted oxygen levels, I’ve been trying to mentally and physically prepare for this unique experience. As I’m writing from an airplane traveling to Florida, I’m reminded how utterly different camping is from any other type of trip: Unlike packing for my current trip, every single item that goes with me to the 14,110-feet top of Pikes Peak will be seriously scrutinized and considered imperative for my well-being.

Ounces and pounds never mean quite as much as they do when they are strapped on your back while walking for a couple of days. Gear for backpacking is all about being resourceful and setting the right priorities. Ladies, the right priorities in this case do not include whether or not your shoes match your shirt.

My husband and I have been slowly collecting or buying gear over the past couple of years. (Yes, we are that couple who registered not only for dinnerware at Macy’s but for camping gear at REI when we got engaged.) Even so, I still was lacking the basics in proper rustic camping gear; therefore, it’s been primarily starting from scratch.

If you aren’t much of a camper, keep these basics in mind as you gear up to camp and climb a 14er:

1. Don’t over do it. You don’t need every single small and large thing that packing lists, outfitter stores, or salespeople make you feel like you must have. Do your research, talk with friends that camp, and think through the essentials that pertain to: Staying dry, well-lit, properly adjusted to the climate, hydrated, fed, safe from elements and potentially dangerous wildlife, and to have methods of communication and tracking that work in the woods.

I say that, but check out our growing pile of “essentials”…

gear for campingIMG_0476

2. Not all camping is the same. Cabins as opposed to tent camping in a site with water & electricity, versus rustic camping that you drive your vehicle to, versus hiking to set up camp are all different; thus packing and preparations are varied as well. Our gear and packing will be a bit eclectic since our 12-day trip will be a mixture of hotels, staying with family/friends,1 night in a mountain cabin, and rustic camping.

3. Be prepared to make a sizable upfront investment. Well constructed camping gear that you can use beyond one trip is not cheap, but it is an investment in a past time and in future vacations. To give you an idea, purchasing these 3 essential pieces of gear alone was nearly $500:

(1) Proper waterproof hiking shoes (Keens, good for wide feet, $125);

(2) A good, 3-season, down-filled sleeping bag (Marmot, on Sale for $224.95+ shipping and tax). Down-filled bags are known for their warmth, loft (fluffiness), light-weight material, and durability.

(3) A 3-person tent (Köppen, again, on Sale for $85).

In order to get my gear, I researched (read lots of user reviews, with a general rule of ratings of considering 3+ as viable options), looked for sales, compared pricing online, and used up my gift cards. Every time I’d “get vocal” about another $200+ equipment run for things to simply be outdoors, my husband would assure me that camping is a front-loaded big investment we’re making for future trips too. #sorryDaveRamsey

Pikes Peak Climb Packing List

I have not nailed down my exact packing list yet, as I still want to consult a seasoned veteran climber, but it will include something along the lines of:

  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Moleskin (for hot spots and blisters on feet)
  • Windbreaker (hooded, arms zip off to a vest, and water resistant)
  • 2 pairs each wool & wicking socks
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking convertible pants (zipoff legs)
  • Wicking short sleeve shirt (this pulls the sweat away from your body and dries quickly, as opposed to Cotton which does not)
  • Wicking long sleeve shirt
  • PJs
  • Undergarments (not cotton)
  • Thermal shirt & leggings
  • Gortex jacket (water-resistant)
  • Essential toiletries (i.e. wipes, deodorant, toothbrush/paste)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Inhaler
  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Flip flops for camp
  • Hydration pack – full of water
  • High-energy, simple snacks. Per my cousin, a seven-time 14er: “Take high-calorie, high-sugar, high-salt snacks that are light weight! A couple of my friends had apples and carrots packed which ironically are not good choices,as they are low-calorie, heavy, slow to eat. You want quick energy.”
  • Water purification tablets
  • Hiking poles
  • Ventilated hat with chin strap
  • Our friends have First-Aid Kit

Rustic Camping Packing List

This list is a work in progress as well, but here’s the start of our rustic camping packing list. This will be for post-climb-driving-up-to-campsite camping:

  • Water filtration
  • Tent
  • Tarp
  • Extra stakes
  • Hatchet
  • Lantern
  • Headlamps
  • Tent Lamp/Fan
  • Sleeping bags
  • Jetboil stove
  • Cooking set
  • Ear Plugs
  • Extra Blankets
  • Eye Covers
  • Skull Caps (nights are cold)
  • Gloves (hiking, and hand warming)
  • Folding Cot and foam pad (optional, unless you’re like us – with chronic neck & back problems)
  • Pillows
  • Striker (fire)
  • Ice chest
  • Water
  • Outdoor Kitchen and food supplies (this will be a whole other list)
  • Bucket
  • Clothes line, clothes pins
  • Rubber mallet
  • Towels
  • Camping chairs & folding table
  • Apparel (this will be another list too)

Mike and I will continue to refine our packing lists, because it really is about resourcefulness and correct prioritizing.

What camping or hiking gear have you found essential?

This is the second post in my Colorado Road Trip Series. You can read about my training here. Continue to track our outdoor adventure right here over the next 3 weeks.

Lisa Martinez

Lisa Martinez

About Lisa Martinez

A writer, artist, and silly-heart from her youth, Lisa Martinez utilizes a variety of mediums as outlets for creative storytelling, laced with humor whenever possible. Lisa attended Franciscan University, where she studied Writing, Mental Health, and Theology. In 2004, she discovered her passion for driving small business growth; now, with her husband, she owns a boutique digital agency, illuvint, based in Dallas and partnering with a world-class team across the States. Closed Doors Open Windows is where her personal blog lives on the web.

Copyright 2014 Lisa Martinez

About Lisa Martinez

A writer, artist, and silly-heart from her youth, Lisa Martinez utilizes a variety of mediums as outlets for creative storytelling, laced with humor whenever possible. Lisa attended Franciscan University, where she studied Writing, Mental Health, and Theology. In 2004, she discovered her passion for driving small business growth; now, with her husband, she owns a boutique digital agency, illuvint, based in Dallas and partnering with a world-class team across the States. Closed Doors Open Windows is where her personal blog lives on the web.