Jun 032015

ChecklistMy mind made up, the wheels were set in motion for a trip to Isle Royale National Park. Nine days on the island and an additional five for travel will have me away from home for two weeks. With thirteen nights away all but two will be camping, either in a tent or shelter. Complicating travel will be the fact that I need to fit all my camping and backpacking equipment on my Triumph Tiger motorcycle. Fortunately the nature of backpacking supports this as gear tends to be compact and lightweight. Still, I need to plan carefully.

I’ve camped off the Tiger plenty of times. In fact, for the past two years, it’s my primary shelter option on most trips. But camping off the bike is a lot different compared to the gear needed to backpack for eight days. Here are additional items I purchased specifically for this trip:

  • Backpack. I’ve never owned a backpack. Last January I made my first purchase for one on eBay and picked up a lightly used Gregory Baltoro 65 (as in 65 liters of pack space). The pack received good reviews and is popular in the backpack community so I figured if it didn’t work out for me, I’d be able to sell it for nearly what I paid. I kicked the tires with it a month ago during a two day, 13 mile hike around North Manitou Island: I like it.
  • Remote power. Obviously there are no power outlets while in wilderness. And one of my devices is invaluable: my Smartphone. I know I won’t have any cell coverage while out in Lake Superior but it has GPS with a map overlay of Isle Royale, track recorder, electronic compass, flashlight, Kindle reader, music player, notepad / voice recorder to record trip notes and expenses, calculator, and even a crappy camera. I purchased a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel and a Jackery Bar power bank (5600mAh Li-Ion battery) to keep it going.
  • Sleeping pad. Previously, my sleeping pad was basically one of those rectangular pool gizmos you blow up and then float around on while catching rays. Cheap piece of junk with three major disadvantages: damn near hyperventilate blowing it up;  zero thermal protection; bulky as hell. I picked up a Klymit Insulated Static V pad that solves all that and only cost me 55 bucks.
  • Trekking poles. Like the backpack, I’ve never owned or even used a set of trekking poles. Conventional wisdom gleaned from various internet blogs and documentaries told me these are a must-have item. I bought a fairly high-end set of Leki Cristallo Antishock 6.5 poles. This is the only item that won’t fit in my luggage. They’ll be strapped to the outside of my dry bag.
  • Water filter. Received a MSR Miniworks EX as a gift from my brother. I brought it on the North Manitou Island trip last month but didn’t need it.
  • Spare Nikon D3100 battery and fixed lens. A big decision was bringing my Nikon DSLR to Isle Royale. It was a tough choice because it’s bulky and heavy. A compromise was reached by leaving the big zoom lenses home. In their place, I purchased a much smaller fixed, fast 35mm lens. Another consideration was battery life. I can’t charge the battery with the Jackery Bar or Goal Zero as it requires an AC feed. So I picked up a spare battery. With two, I’ll be good for over 1000 photos. Rounding out the camera gear are a monopod, set of neutral density filters, and remote shutter release.

Food was the next big consideration. I know food resupply is an option, so based on the Voyageur II schedule, I decided to have a package dropped at McCargo Cove half-way through my trip. I also know I do not want to (i.e. can’t) hike more than 9 miles in a day and that my average moving speed with a pack is about 1.8 miles per hour. Based on my weight, average speed and pack load, calorie calculators estimate I’ll burn about 800 calories per hour while hiking. With all that data, I created the following table:

TueJune 93 Mile2.72.712001200
WedJune 10Moskey Basin8.311.036904890
ThrJune 11Chippewa Harbor6.217.227557645
FriJune 12Chickenbone west7.925.1351011,155
SatJune 13McCargoe Cove2.727.8120012,355
SunJune 14Daisy Farm8.236.0364516,000
MonJune 15Lane Cove6.942.9306519,065
TueJune 16Rock Harbor6.949.8306522,130
WedJune 17Ferry to Houghton0.049.8022,130

*Based on 800 calories per hour at 1.8 MPH average moving speed.

So that’s about 2,750 calories / day. I focused on food that had at least 100 calories per ounce and was high in protein and or carbohydrates. Multivitamins will take care of any mineral or vitamin deficiencies. I ended up settling on 10 pounds of food which is 20 ounces per day at an average calorie rating of 2,000 calories per day: about 750 short of my needs. While not overweight, let’s just say I’m a little miss-proportioned and losing an inch or so in the waist won’t kill me. As mentioned previously, I’ll ship half the food to McCargo Cove so I won’t ever have more than a 5 pound food load. I have capacity for 1 ½ liters of water – there are plentiful water sources on Isle Royale and resupply while hiking is almost never an issue. That comes in at 3 pounds, so my food and water load should never be more than 8 pounds.

With everything sorted out, I stuffed the Baltoro and everything fits – just. I am purposely NOT weighing the pack: there’s nothing in there that I care to remove and not knowing its weight will be better psychologically. I’ll make a point of putting it on the scale at Rock Harbor once my trek is complete. I feel I’ve done my homework and am as prepared as possible. Four days to launch…