• Oh boy, we may have started a war here. I hear low murmurs from trail guides as I mentioned this topic. So let’s keep an open mind here and breathe some positive vibes.

    For me, personally, my “Go to Gear” evolves as I do. As I learn more about my skillset, and my environment I travel in, the gear I carry changes. A wise person once said that the 5 basic human survival needs are oxygen, water, food, shelter and sleep.

    Oxygen

    Oxygen, hmm, that one is fairly self-explanatory I believe. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

    Water

    When it comes to water, you have two options. You can carry water in with you or carry a mechanism for water purification. While hiking in Red River Gorge you should know the availability of water prior to setting out on a hike. A very popular hike for most is Auxier Ridge, but there isn’t a water source available while on the top of the ridge. For this type of hike a water purification system would be useless, unless you were hiking on over to Double Arch and passed by the stream in the valley. I personally don’t like carrying a lot of extra weight if I don’t have to, with the exception of water. Depending on the hike and length of activity I will sometimes carry a 2 liter Platypus bladder along with my HikingRRG water bottle. For extended overnight hiking adventures I try to plan my hikes around a water source like Swift Camp Creek and bring along a MSR HyperFlow filter. I’ve used other filter but this thing just simply rocks. It’s very light and fills a liter bottle in about 20 seconds.

    Food

    For day hikes in Red River Gorge I usually bring along some beef jerky or an energy bar of some sort. One thing I have really fell in love with are the Fruitango beef sticks from Lucky Beef Jerky. I’ve always been a fan of beef jerky in general but most of it is high in sodium and protein with no other benefits. The nice thing about the Fruitango beef sticks is Lucky Beef Jerky mixes in dehydrated fruit without additives. Providing just enough natural sugar and carbohydrates to give me that extra boost while hiking. Unlike some of the energy bar alternatives that are loaded with unnecessary carbs. Even on overnight hikes I’ll bring along some jerky to keep my tummy happy before fixing dinner. I won’t even go into what dinner consists of so you’ll still think I’m somewhat health conscience.

    Shelter

    My first overnight trip consisted of just about everything. Big tent, sleeping bag, pillows, etc. That has certainly changed as I have hiked more. My new go to piece of gear is an ENO hammock and usually a small tarp/rainfly. Even on day trips I’ll take the ENO along just to give me a spot to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of Red River Gorge. It is lightweight compared to a tent and so comfortable when compared to sleeping on the ground that is most likely also going downhill.

    Sleep

    Ha! I’ve never had a problem in this department. I can fall asleep just about anywhere. I’ve been training daily, my entire life, just for that moment. Ask any of the trail guides and they’ll vouch for my uncanny ability to fall asleep in the middle of a conversation.

    -Mike