As mentioned previously, this was very much a seat-of-the-pants thing. Ideally, more research should have been done on equipment. Or maybe not. I would have spent a lot of time browsing, and maybe have ended up buying the same things :-)
One interesting thing I discovered after I got back from the hike was the concept of ultra-light backpacking. http://www.ultralightbackpacker.com/
I bought a pair of Merrell Pulse II. Light, waterproof. I could walk through muck and water without getting any water inside. Also, light and comfy. Highly recommended
- Hiking Socks
I used to consider these an affectation. Not so much anymore. There were times when I waded through water, wrung the socks and put them back on, kept going. They were dry in a short time. Can't do these with standard cotton socks.
- Packs and packing
I had bought my pack on a whim, but lucked out. It's one of the lighter packs (at about 4 pounds). My whole backpack, including food, water, tent etc, weighed in at 31 pounds. If I had bought one of the heavier packs by mistake (like one of those 12 pound monstrosities), I would have been lugging nearly 25 percent more weight. By the end of the trip, it shows :-)
Also, the loads on the pack should be distributed so that it stays close to your body and doesn't pull away from your center of gravity. The best place to put the heavy stuff is at the bottom where they have thoughtfully provided loops :-)
- Reading up on backpacking.
Haven't done it, should have done it :-) I am sure that many things that I found out, people already have..
- Trip planning
Now, we did very little of it and lucked out. Just a little bit of trip planning saves a lot of time and headache. For instance, if we had planned this trip the previous night instead of at the EMS store on the evening, we could have saved close to 3 hours of day-light hiking time. As it was, we started researching hikes at 2:00 pm, chose one at 3:30 and read up on the hike on the way there :-)
Be sure to make a fire-ring or use pre-existing ones. If you do plan to make a fire, the fire-logs (like the ones used in fireplaces) make it a lot easier. Easy to start the fire, doesn't smoke, no burning embers to deal with.
Be sure to carry matches/lighter too, obviously :-)
- Waste and the disposal thereof
Get atleast 200 ft from the trail, campsites and water sources( remember that trails curve. 200 ft from the place you started might not quite be 200 ft from another point on the trail :-)
). Dig a hole six inches deep, do your thing, mix it up with the dirt (with a stick), bury it. Don't bury the toilet paper, though, apparently doesn't quite decompose as fast.
- Straps, ropes.
These help. Take spares.
Do not forget it. Or you will pay :-)
Obviously one needs it. I would suggest that one be taken even if the hike is not planned to last into the evening.