The Go-Kit: 5 Things I Learned I Needed In The Field
As I start to wind down my shooting year with surgery just a couple of weeks down the road, I’ve started doing some reflecting on what I’ve learned this year. My first attempt to reflect in public will be on five things I learned I needed to have with me on a trip to be successful in the field.
First and foremost I learned the importance of hydration and the ability to rehydrate in the field. I started out the year using your standard .5 liter water bottles. My vest carried two of them easily. But as the hikes extended past 3 miles, 1 liter of water was not nearly enough to get the job done. And the hotter it was, the hotter the water would get and there came a point where it just wasn’t a pleasant drink. And as I could tell as the sweat rolled into my eyes, I was losing salt in the process and water wasn’t putting it back.
Water: My significant other purchased me a backpack-style hydration solution. It wasn’t a Camelbak, though next year’s will be. But it did a passable job of keeping me out of trouble. To keep it cool on the trails, I would fill the thing first with crushed ice and then poured in enough water to top it off. The drive time, short or long, was enough to get the ice to start to melt into cool, cool refreshment and then along the trail the heat melted the rest. The start of each sip would be a little warm, but it would be quickly followed by ice cold goodness.
Electrolytes: I bought a small ice chest and always packed a couple of 1 Liter Gatorades. I tried some of the other brands, but ultimately I kept coming back to Gatorade because it seemed to do the best job for me. I’m a big fan of the Glacier Freeze from their frost series and I go with the regular rather than the low-cal (I need some energy, too…). After a few hours on the trails I would take down that first liter in a matter of a couple of minutes.
Sweat, in itself, is to be expected on the trail. But where it started to interfere with my photography was when it would get into my eyes or it would start to drip onto my glasses.
My fixes: I added a washcloth-sized towel in my Go Kit to mop my brow and dry my scalp. On days when I could get away with it, I would wear shorts with my snake boots to keep me a little cooler. And I always had a dry shirt to change into when I got back to the car. I also carried an extra lens cleaning cloth, just in case.
More than once I walked into areas where I probably shouldn’t have and found thorns from various types of plants. I hate thorns. It is why I wear boots. It is why I try to watch where I’m going. But stuff happens.
My fix: I added a pair of needle-nosed pliers into the Go Kit. They’re great at removing those thorns without my getting close enough to touch them. Nothing fancy, nothing sturdy. An under $10 purchase at my local hardware store, but easily worth it’s weight in gold.
So the adds to the Go Kit:
– Backpack Hydration (filled w/crushed ice and water)
– Small Ice Chest w/two 1-liter Gatorades
– 1 Washcloth-sized towel
– 1 Extra Lens Cloth
– 1 Pair Needle-nosed Pliers
Was I going to turn around and go home if I didn’t have these things? No. But the day wasn’t going to be as productive. And obviously, the first two items weren’t things I could just stick in the kit in the car–those were prep things that had to be done before I walked out the door and/or got on the road. But that is what having a good checklist is for. Speaking of checklists… that may be a good subject for a blog entry.