In prepping for my family’s 20 mile backpack trip into the Cloud Peak Wilderness of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains I only had 2 major concerns: sleeping bags and water!
This was my girl’s first backpack trip with me. I have a lightweight Big Agnes sleeping bag and they all have heavy ‘truck camping’ bags. I couldn’t afford to just go out and drop cash on 4 new bags for this trip so we would make do with what we had. A couple of my kids are still fairly young and couldn’t carry a full pack with sleeping bag and pad. My older 2 had smaller packs with insufficient space for a big sleeping bag so I was nominated as the beast of burden. My pack was big enough that I ended up with 3 bags crammed inside. One bag was big enough for my youngest 2 daughters to share so that left my wife to pack her own bag and one daughter to pack my lightweight bag. By the end of the trip I was wishing Santa would have been a little more pro-active over the years.
With our bag problem ‘solved’ it was time to focus on water. I’ve been using a Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter for many years and am impressed with its size, speed and utility. I am typically solo on my backpack trips and the Hiker Pro is perfect for those situations. With 5 additional hikers, this trip would be different. We were planning on setting up a base camp 7 miles in and then hiking up to the surrounding lakes above timberline to fish for golden trout. My Hiker Pro filter would be perfect for those day hikes but I also wanted to make sure there was ample water for everyone around camp without spending all our time filtering water. I jumped on the Katadyn website and saw an awesome solution to my dilemma: The Katadyn Base Camp. Basically, it is a heavy duty bag with a filter placed inside. Fill the bag with water, roll down the top and elevate. Gravity will filter the water out of the attached hose valve and into your desired container. The bag holds 6 liters of water and the whole system tips the scale at 11 ounces. Katadyn shows output at ½ Liter per minute.
Once we arrived at our destination, my girls were so excited to try out the newly arrived Base Camp. They ran to the creek while I finished setting up our tents.
By the time I finished putting on the rain fly, they were filling water bottles. Every water bottle they could find!
My girl’s verified that all 6 liters of the Base Camp can, in fact, be emptied in less than 3 minutes. Just to verify their findings they would run back to the creek and fill it again! The Base Camp is easy to use, fast, lightweight and tough. It also meets industry standards for reduction of bacteria (99.9999% Klebsiella terrigena) and protozoan cysts (99.9% Giardia and Cryptosporidium). We hung it on a tree in camp where it filtered 5 or 6 full loads in 3 days. It was the perfect solution for our family outing.
The Base Camp Filter was an absolute hit on our family backpack trip but would I use it on my solo hunting trips? YES! I have several hunting locations where the Base Camp will be very efficient. During early season deer hunts there is a small lake 1,500 vertical feet below where I camp. I typically only come off the lofty peaks to stalk a mule deer or to filter water. By filling the Base Camp and carrying it up to camp, I’ll ensure an extra 2-4 day supply of water. Now I’ll only have to come off those lofty peaks to stalk velvet bucks!
For this trip I also packed an Optimus Elektra FE cook system for all of our cooking. The Cruz Lite stove really will boil 1 liter of water in the FE Heat Exchange pot in just over 3 minutes – at 10,000 feet! I was truly amazed and will be writing a review shortly.
None of my girls had eaten freeze dried food before. We packed a couple brands but the hit of the trip was Natural High in Chicken Teriyaki and Natural High’s Cinnamon Apple Crisp for dessert. I will be sampling some of Natural High’s new products throughout this hunting season and will report in on what I find.