'Ultralight' packing for Alaska 'bush flying' - pic heavy

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
In March of this year (spring, lol), I took a brief trip to interior AK ('The Bush'). The challenge was to maximize preparedness while minimizing luggage - taking a single handcarry for convenience (& also not incurring luggage fees). Furthermore, in a survival situation I wanted to have everything needed 'at hand'. So, an opportunity to think out & refine my travel system. :)

----------

Personal gear:
  • Survival food - carob 'energy chunks' & cashews
  • Travel kit (includes the basics plus lip balm, ibuprofen, and dental floss)
  • Empty 1 pt Nalgene bottle - to be filled w/ water once inside security
  • Gum & candy - note that ginger candy has extra power to 'heat you up' ;)
  • Flashlights: SureFire L1 (w/ 5000K XM-L2), Streamlight Stylus Pro / Fenix LD01 (XR-E) head, Streamlight Microstream / Fenix LD01 (XP-G) head, Muyshondt Mako Flood (5000K) - 'cuz this is CPF, after all. :D
  • Spare AAA cell - note that three of the four lights listed above utilize interchangeable AAA Eneloops
  • Lighter & duct tape
  • Survival whistle & micro tool (pliers, screwdriver heads, etc - unfortunately no knife is possible due to flight security & only having one handcarry - so this tool is a viable alternate option).
  • Earplugs - a MUST to get a little extra sleep on public flights or noisy airports
20160306_122346.jpg

----------

Alaska-rated winter clothing, to include:
  • LL Bean parka (handcarryable)
  • Filson shirts (warm but $$$ - and worth it)
  • Mesh stuff sack packed with warm socks - makes a great pillow if needed
  • Polyproplyene underwear - who says you can't see CPF's dirty laundry? ;)
  • Muskrat skin hat w/ fur earflaps - THE way to keep the head warm down to ~60 below weather (have been outside in -69F here previously)
fbb7b8cc-9d84-4274-b913-d66ad5a71780.jpg

----------

As-packed:

  • To be wearing most of the winter gear while in transit
  • Top-of-the-line Red Wing leather boots - fully broken in - the most comfortable boots I've ever worn.
  • Personal pocket gear
  • Backpack to handcarry & keep handy if needed - no lost-luggage inconveniences/emergencies here. :)
20160306_123940.jpg

----------

Everyone knows what commercial jet flying looks like, but the last leg of the journey is done in a Piper Navaho - an excellent twin-engine plane very popular for commercial interior AK flying. Note the full winter gear - sometimes-spotty climate control in the cabin, plus in the case of an emergency landing things will get very cold - faster than you can put on any additional winter gear packed away in hard-to-get luggage. Also note that these aircraft interiors will measure 86-87 dB during cruising flight so the earplugs come in handy here are well.

20160307_180255.jpg

----------

Outside view of the northern side of the Alaska Range:

20160307_180525.jpg

----------

Sunset - or is it sunrise? :huh:
('Birch Creek' I'm thinking)

20160307_182340.jpg

----------

The southern bank of the Yukon River:
(The 'Banana Belt' ;))

20160307_183138.jpg

----------

The main channel:
(Bank-to-bank, the Yukon River is ~2+ miles wide in this area.)

20160307_183154.jpg

----------

A leisurely afternoon hike on a frozen lake:
(AK is highly underrated as a winter destination. :))

20160310_151019_001.jpg

20160310_1510370.jpg

----------

And to finish with the commercial return flight, a nice view of an extinct volcano in the Alaskan Panhandle:
(Always get window seats when you can - you never know what unexpected things you'll get to see. :))

20160313_132308.jpg

----------

Just a quick Alaskan 'winter vacation' - packing adequate survival gear but remaining light & mobile at the same time.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. :)

Kestrel

Edit: And thanks to nbp for suggesting I bring back pics for a thread ... ;)
 
Last edited:

KITROBASKIN

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
Messages
3,511
Location
New Mexico, USA
Interesting. Thanks for showing your gear. Interesting that you carry no spare batteries or charger, but instead, rely on multiple flashlights and purchasing alkalines in an emergency(?)

Now days, there are collapsible water bottles that could be stowed flat until a possible scenario may benefit from increased water storage in pack, on some facets of one's journey.

And some of us (I think) would have at least one spare pair of underwear and socks, yes?
 

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Thx for the comments. When traveling heavier I've tried bringing chargers, but never even came close to needing them. No 'barn burners' pictured above, just efficient multi-mode lights with long runtimes on 'low'. The single spare AAA cell plus the epic-runtime Mako Flood, covers most any situation. By feeding AAA's to the most efficient lights (i.e. the current-controlled XP-G LD01 and the Mako) there is literally hundreds of hours of total potential runtime pictured, covering both 'flood' & 'throw'. :)

And there are a few clothing items not pictured above, as they have little specific relevance to cold-weather use. But please note that there are multiple pairs of winter socks in the mesh bag 'pillow'. :)

Good point on the collapsable water bottle idea though - that would give me more possible capacity than that single nalgene bottle pictured, but there's minimal extra room in the pack once they'd be filled.
 
Last edited:

Bullzeyebill

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 21, 2003
Messages
12,145
Location
CA
Well, I have to say that was an awesome, information packed post that did not need thousands of words. What did you do for recreation while there. Fishing. etc?

Bill
 

ven

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Messages
22,477
Location
Manchester UK
Awesome adventure, thanks for sharing:rock:

I await and look forward to the next trip

:popcorn:
 

Str8stroke

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2013
Messages
5,036
Location
On The Black Pearl
This looks way way cool. No pun intended either. ok, well maybe so.

On that trip, I would have had to bring the trusty A2. Just cause the whole flying thing.

AAA's is a great call. I would likely have carried a HDS Rotary with a holster & clip. It is good to see a L1 getting used.

What were the sleeping arrangements? Ex: Cabin-Tent-ground??
 

scout24

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 23, 2008
Messages
8,550
Location
Penn's Woods
Simply beautiful pics. And I like the concept of lightweight, one bag, and enough gear to get by if needed. One of my bigger regrets is having spent 3+ years in Seattle and never venturing further north than Vancouver, B.C. Maybe someday...

Edit- I figured you used the empty water container for packed storage of some sort- socks, skivvies, your rations...
 

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Sorry to depart from my own thread, just busy is all. :eek:
No epic recreation, just going for afternoon walks. My mom was moving so I flew up to give her a hand. Was a nice visit though.

Unfortunately, just last week the 14-yr old doggie in one of the pics above had to be put to sleep; a wonderful golden retriever & a great companion for my mom.
Below is a pic of the two of us from a December trip a few years ago. Rather cold on that particular trip. :D

AK%20Dec%20021.jpg
 
Last edited:

Bullzeyebill

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 21, 2003
Messages
12,145
Location
CA
So sad about the Golden Retriever. We had to put down our wonderful Chuck, an American Staffordshire Terrier, the good looking milder mannered dog of the Pit Bull family.

Bill
 

BloodLust

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 12, 2005
Messages
322
Location
Philippines
Sorry to hear about putting down the dog.

Thanks for sharing. I should reassess my carry on since constantly go over Alaskan and Northern Canadian airspace. Just last week, I was over Northern Russia.

Safe travels!
 

Poppy

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Messages
5,951
Location
Northern New Jersey
Sorry to hear about the dog. My son's is getting up there too. I hope I'm not too attached... I tried to not be. :rolleyes:

Still staying ultra light, I'd consider packing:
A mesh metal fires starting rod, with a hack-saw blade striker, and a piece of emery cloth to sharpen the back of it into a cutting tool.
A pencil sharpener for making shavings out of small twigs to turn them into tinder.
I'd use an aluminum water bottle for melting snow, or heating water, instead of the nalgene bottle.
and either a silnylon poncho/tarp, or a SOL mylarized tyvec bivy. OR in the least a mylar emergency blanket.

Beautiful pictures... gotta see more! :)
 

Kestrel

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,119
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
[...] A pencil sharpener for making shavings out of small twigs to turn them into tinder.
I'd use an aluminum water bottle for melting snow, or heating water, instead of the nalgene bottle.
Good tips there; I've been meaning on getting a bunch of those mini pencil sharpeners for ages now, but keep on forgetting.
Good dual use for the aluminum water bottle instead of my Nalgene one - have had to melt snow many times for drinking water and the aluminum would be way better in that regard. :thumbsup:

[...] a mylar emergency blanket.
I messed with those a little during my AK days and never thought much of them because they only helped for wind IMO - which in these areas is nonexistent in the winter - and I _always_ had sufficient clothing/gear with me which was far superior.

I did transition to those mylar emergency bags which was certainly an improvement.
Then that grew to a much better mini-bag the size of a quart Nalgene bottle.
Then that went by the wayside for emergency packing due to being too large - so am back where I started 25 years ago, lol. :poof:

-----

Edit: Huh!! :huh:
I'm wondering if the tiny steel blade on one of those mini pencil sharpeners would be an issue to go through airport security?

If not, being able to detach it via that tiny screw would even make a good emergency blade, adding the ability to cut paracord / seat belt webbing - even duty as a scalpel for emergency first aid.

All sorts of multiple uses there, hmm. I think I will start flying with one of those little pencil sharpeners to see how TSA will treat them.
They're disposable; cost is next to nothing. I think I have a new angle here ... :thinking:
 
Last edited:

Poppy

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Messages
5,951
Location
Northern New Jersey
Regarding those mylar blankets, thankfully, I have never had to rely on one. They always concerned me with how flimsy they are.

Yet on "Dual Survival" in one episode the guys had one, and both commented that they were surprised at how much it helped keep them comfortable, despite the fact that they were in what looked like professional winter gear.

It can be used as a ground tarp, or waterproof barrier for a shelter, an additional reflector behind a fire, or behind me, if the fire is in front of me, it can be used as a water container (lol... you just wouldn't be able to lie it down.) I am sure that one could fashion it into a solar stove if for nothing else but to melt snow. I have read that a single candle held between your feet, and if you are crouched down around the candle, with the mylar blanket draped over you that it throws an incredible amount of heat.

So for the extremely small size that it folds up into, and the myriad of possible uses, I think it is worth it.

Regarding the pencil sharpener, I don't know if you'll have a small enough screw driver to remove the screw. But if the casing is plastic, I am sure it wouldn't hold up well if placed on a rock, and hit with another one. In other words place it between a rock and a hard place :banghead: :)
 

parametrek

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2013
Messages
578
We have something even better than mylar blankets now: aluminized polyethylene. They are a little more bulky than the mylar but are completely silent. Really, try sleeping under a mylar blanket in your car sometimes. To make it extra hard, have another person in the car under their own blanket. It'll take both of you a few extra hours to fall asleep with all the crinkling sounds.

The PE blankets also stretch instead of shredding into ribbons. They are commonly sold under the trade name of HeatSheets.
 

jfhrtn

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 11, 2016
Messages
82
Wow great post. New member so they post is pretty new to me haha. Still in catch up mode on the info here. You must have been to Alaska before to have the packing down to such a science. Hopefully going to come across more threads like this [emoji106]
 

Poppy

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Messages
5,951
Location
Northern New Jersey
We have something even better than mylar blankets now: aluminized polyethylene. They are a little more bulky than the mylar but are completely silent. Really, try sleeping under a mylar blanket in your car sometimes. To make it extra hard, have another person in the car under their own blanket. It'll take both of you a few extra hours to fall asleep with all the crinkling sounds.

The PE blankets also stretch instead of shredding into ribbons. They are commonly sold under the trade name of HeatSheets.
Wow! That's terriffic!
Last week I bought a HeatSheets emergency blanket. I didn't realize that it wasn't mylar.

It was perhaps double the price, but from your comments, it sounds like money well spent! :thumbsup:
 

Poppy

Well-known member
CPF Supporter
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Messages
5,951
Location
Northern New Jersey
Good tips there; I've been meaning on getting a bunch of those mini pencil sharpeners for ages now, but keep on forgetting.
Good dual use for the aluminum water bottle instead of my Nalgene one - have had to melt snow many times for drinking water and the aluminum would be way better in that regard. :thumbsup:


I messed with those a little during my AK days and never thought much of them because they only helped for wind IMO - which in these areas is nonexistent in the winter - and I _always_ had sufficient clothing/gear with me which was far superior.

I did transition to those mylar emergency bags which was certainly an improvement.
Then that grew to a much better mini-bag the size of a quart Nalgene bottle.
Then that went by the wayside for emergency packing due to being too large - so am back where I started 25 years ago, lol. :poof:

-----

Edit: Huh!! :huh:
I'm wondering if the tiny steel blade on one of those mini pencil sharpeners would be an issue to go through airport security?

If not, being able to detach it via that tiny screw would even make a good emergency blade, adding the ability to cut paracord / seat belt webbing - even duty as a scalpel for emergency first aid.

All sorts of multiple uses there, hmm. I think I will start flying with one of those little pencil sharpeners to see how TSA will treat them.
They're disposable; cost is next to nothing. I think I have a new angle here ... :thinking:

I probably wouldn't carry a tiny phillips screwdriver, but when needed, a rock and hard surface may do the trick.

Here we go... three strikes with a fist sized rock.

OxDtsAjyp42ndpGmvRnZ5o27KrmdW6FG5xD0SPJ752SIfJek3Wv3yYoOi-1qiPQ34EJbw9Fuq7jvwt_78VwOJDR3qLQlesg97Pg-sAR72p8HialjdZ2ER_5KfPKIXw6ES6X0x2_PyBO1ZT0MmNkqkJ9SAJjMy64i3MR50_tvGY3q3A52AVu6OH78FMnDQGpmYh8Up7GctzYaxc4eOVOPIEeo8iwLFgT0-PTFe5TJMwZMZuHHiab4bprqHvrYoC1ixsoqWwX4pb6ycXv-jGK8z2P1qN6wrGeduyU6ZS1DsNrPBMVQvkdRWLsrPw71ltLTH5UreUWAj4bZF0a6T_aTtfRfufwAv-SQ7_NQf8hIfXg8y81zVLQsKoPKzyQLB07lBUskIGhHcq55GxFBr3paS24fP1PUfmonqOJnwMJk6m3tqNtMz_STcZOwOg-4RoOXI7Jrrxzclzla2TAyOvIEH5-2_q2MhdwNPnI4vXJnuU6Jy00iuG5ZosEEfiI9No43OIIFX_TAH58XojMaTs-dpSVle2WIxHuihPfePmOBh0Z4QYtjghsX5W1Yd6p-Y5O-4SqVVKqYiec7QtmyCGU5FDhX2DnHtjLehZLz2PfOtU9P7cvg=w436-h775-no
 
Top