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Carry Lists

Use these carry lists as a starting point. As you become a more experienced backpacker, you will be able to customize these to better suit your own needs. All carry lists start with the Ten Essentials then include a list of first priority items and a list of other items you might want to bring.
The Ten Essentials    (total weight: 5 pounds)
(1) Pocket Knife.
Why Bring It?  You may as well ask, "Why buy diapers for a baby?" The pocket knife will be the most useful tool in your pack. It can cut food, fix a pack frame (with the screw driver or knife tip), Fight back if a mountain lion attacks (see "Safety"), pick a splinter out of skin, and clean between your teeth (toothpick - not blade).

What kind of knife should you get?  The uses up above are for a standard Victorinox™ (a.k.a.-Swiss Army Knife™). But any knife will do if it has a (non-serrated) blade and a screw driver (flat head and Philips).
(2) First Aid Kit.
Why Bring It?  Just in case little Billy falls and hurts himself.
What kind should you get? You can buy a fairly light first-aid kit at most outdoor stores. Or, you can make an even lighter kit at your house. (Note: When you get better, I highly recommend that you buy a backpacking first-aid kit. It's well worth 100 times its weight in gold). All you really need is: A container that will fit: Different sized band-aids, Mole Skin, Gauze Pads, Antiseptic stuff (wipes or Neosporin™), Pain relievers such as ADVIL™, Adhesive tape, Elastic bandage, Gauze roller bandage, and Latex gloves.
(3) Extra Clothing.
Why Bring It? In case you get wet on a cold night or if the night is colder than you expected.
What should I bring? An extra shirt and some pants should be enough. Socks help a lot, you put a fresh pair on just before going to bed and your feet will never get cold before the rest of your body does because your old socks, although they feel dry, still have some sweat soaked up in them and that will lead to cold feet. DO NOT BRING JEANS! This is one place where the magical cloth (denim) doesn't work. They are heavy, absorb eight times their weight in water, and take a long time to dry (Like two days in the sun kind of long). And when they're dry, they are stiff and very scratchy.
(4) Rain Gear.
Why Bring It? If there's one thing that I've learned since I started backpacking (and in my regular life), its - NEVER TRUST THE WEATHERMAN. If anything, when the weatherman says, "No chance of rain at all!" Bring your rain gear. If they say that it definitely will rain -well- Use common sense.
What kind do I get? Ponchos are great except when it's windy. Then they blow around and get you very wet. I just use a wann'a-be GORE - TEX™ jacket. You also want to bring a pack cover. They have more uses than just a pack cover for the rain. I use mine to keep my stuff from blowing away at night. That way I don't have to repack my backpack when it's pitch black. You really don't need rain pants unless you are really expecting it to rain a lot. I don't have any personally. 
(5) Water Bottle (full).
Why Bring It? DON'T EVEN ASK! That's like going camping for a month without food. If you did that - - Well - - You wouldn't exactly be Einstein now would you?
What kind should I get? That question is a little more reasonable than the one above. A couple one quart wide mouth bottles will be perfect for you (3 quarts minimum). I use (and highly recommend) a PLATYPUS™ and a NALGENE™ lexan bottle. The water bottle has more uses than just holding water. The reason I got the bottle that is mentioned above is, I heard from the salesman who sold me the bottle, that you can fill it with hot water on a cold night, put the cap on very tight, and throw it into your sleeping bag. The result, a nice warm sleeping bag when it's time to go to bed. The water bottle can also be used to make pancake mix. That is where the wide mouth comes in real handy. you put the mix in the bottle and then put the water in and shake it up! then when the pancake batter is all gone -- repeat that step just using soap and water instead of pancake mix. Pretty easy. The PLATYPUS™ is very useful to keep your water stops down. One problem is, if you don't have good self-control, you just keep drinking and drinking and then you are finished with two quarts of water before the half way point and they are not very good when it comes to mixing juices. You should never mix juices in any kind of water bladder! They take an army to clean.
(6) Flashlight with batteries.
Why Bring It? I'm getting very repetitive with that question aren't I? Oh well, the flashlight is very helpful at night. It is also helpful if you decide to look inside that cave that you happen to camp next to. It can also be used as a signal for an airplane at night if you're lost.
What kind should I get? Any old flashlight will do as long as it's light and dependable. I highly recommend either a MINI-MAGLIGHT™ or a headlamp. The headlamps are useful because where you look - the light goes. and the MINI-MAGs™ are useful because they are very dependable and you can take the top off and turn it into either a flare or a lantern (depending on the use). They even put an extra bulb in the back.
(7) Trail Food.
Why Bring It? Trail food really helps when you're hot, tired and are not in the best mood ever.
What kind is best? GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) is a very good choice for trail food. I also bring some wheat thins and some hard candy. On trips in the sierras, I use my trail food as my lunch because it actually saves weight and is backpacking's version of fast food. My favorite things to put into GORP are - Peanuts, M & M's, jellybeans, and Granola. Normally the sweet things in my GORP out number the healthy stuff by about 2 to 1. There is actually a reason for that. The sweet things taste better and the sugar in them gives you an energy boost.
(8) Fire Starter.
Why Bring It? Just to feed that little voice inside that says, "BURN THINGS!" And it can be used to make a signal fire, cooking fire, or a warmth fire should you ever become lost.
What kind should I bring? I have several different Methods to tell. You can use my personal favorite, matches. However they really can only be lit in perfect conditions. Then, there's the less picky - Flint and Steel. However, These require perfect fuel sources like dryer lint of cotton. That's why I carry some lint in my pack as well. Plus, it doubles as fireworks on a boring night (lint sparks when lit).You can also use a more modern method that involves a 9 volt battery and some steel wool. This is a little bit less picky than Flint and Steel but will light in harsher weather than matches. You simply spread the steel wool out very thin over you kindling and just tap the battery to the wool and blow. (WARNING: Never touch the battery to the same spot twice. It doesn't work for some reason.) And then there's the classic magnifying glass. Just hold it over you kindling and make the spot of sun light as small as possible. Sound familiar from burning ants? You can also take the very modern way of using a lighter. However, these will burn your hand if pointed in the wrong direction (i.e. down) or if they are used to light stoves(especially white gas whisperlites™).
(9) Sunscreen and hat.
Why Bring It?  Shouldn't have to ask!
What kind should I get? A floppy hat that protects your face, ears, and the back of your neck from the sun. It doesn't have to protect the back of your neck if your pack is big enough to block sunlight. Some spf 30 or more sunscreen is perfect for what you'll be doing. You don't need much of it. I have a little travel size tube of sunscreen and I have only had to refill it once!
(10) Map and compass (and the knowledge of how to use them).
Why Bring It? WHAT DO YA' MEAN! So You Don't Get Lost. Or if you do, so you can get found.

What kind should I get? Just any old compass as long as it points north 99% of the time will work. Why 99% and not 100? Because a compass that points north 100% of the time is impossible to get. There are times when you take a bearing right next to a large, magnetic boulder. To make sure I don't do this, I move around and see if the needle changes direction. It really helps you to determine the altitude Gain/Loss if you use a USGS Topographical map (available at most outdoor stores or you can create one using the USGS TOPO!™ software). And you should take a class on how to use them. Many towns offer these classes as well as an orienteering club.