When you have to make a decision to go on alone on a bicycle or on foot what essentials do I carry in that backpack?
Get a decent backpack …
High Sierra Explorer 45 Backpack – 2,750 cubic inches of storage found at Bass Pro or online for under $90 – Do not skimp on a quality backpack
First thing is seven light weight items: Water containers, tent or tarp, water filter, first aid kit, way to start a fire, LED flashlight and a sleeping bag.
Water Containers & Filters – Now you can chose a sling mounted 2 quart aluminum canteen (Wal-Mart – $8) which will weigh 5 pound full (good choice), additional water item is a Sawyer 34-ounce inline water filter which will process about 500 gallons of water these are a great choice too but get two (Wal-Mart – $35) and a smaller 0.75 liter flip top water bottle (Wal-Mart – $7) – water is an essential and clean, filtered water with keep you healthy by avoiding bacteria, cysts and protozoa in ponds and waterways.
Shelter – You have to stay dry and warm and a tent or tarp can provide that dry place to sleep. A small light weight tent can be bought inexpensively but I advise you to not skimp here and get a two person dome tent a quality tent under $100 is quite possible at any sporting goods store or if you’re a budget shopper an Ozark 2-person dome tent(Amazon – $48)
Sleeping Bag – You have to stay warm and a good sleeping bag is another necessary item a great bag is: A comfortable and practical bedding arrangement is a good quality sleeping bag good to 5+F/-15C degrees Everest Mummy +5F/-15C Degree Sleeping Bag – (Amazon – $55)
From a blister to a cut in the wilderness an infection can kill you really quickly and it needs dealt with immediately.
Fire Starting Kit – Now most of us are not Daniel Boone and the idea of rubbing two sticks together when it’s raining is as ludicrous as a 5-footer trying out for the NBA, neither situation is going to work out well.
Matches are ok, a BIC lighter is ok too and you should have those as a backup but wet conditions, windy weather or worse yet in darkness you need easy to use and reliable.
UST Fire Starter Kit 1.0– under $20 – Amazon
LED Flashlight – You don’t need a 5 pound – D cell mag light a better solution is a lightweight aluminum cased LED flashlight and extra batteries.
Pelican ProGear 1920 LED 120-Lumen Pen Flashlight – $30 – Amazon
You’re going to say what about other stuff – ok what about it? If you can’t manage to stay alive nothing else matters does it.