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Words by Alicia de la Rosa | Photos by Blair Ryan

August 12th, 2017: 13 individuals with type 1 diabetes are in a hostel, figuring out the best way to pack their bags with all the necessary supplies for a 6-day backcountry hike through the North Coast Trail.

Preparing your bag for a backcountry adventure is quite different from the usual bag packing of your purse or school backpack. We usually pack everything we think we might need for the next few hours, the day, or even the weekend. We grab everything possible to be fully prepared for what’s to come our way. As obvious as it is to make sure you’re well equipped for a backpacking trip, packing as light and minimal as possible is key to a well-packed bag.

Food and proper eating utensils, water filters, shelter, apparel, and of course the surplus amounts of diabetes supplies are the necessities one will need for such a trek. Key to packing your backpack is putting all the heavy items on the bottom. The weight will be more on your hips, to relieve your back and shoulders of any stress throughout the hike.

Food is a must and my favourite thing to pack. One: because it’s yummy and two: because it’s the lightest! It can ultimately be stuffed and packed anywhere, whether on the bottom of your bag because there’s a little space or on the top. Plastic reusable utensils and plates are also easy and can be shoved anywhere they can fit. Pots and propane bottles are a little trickier due to their shape and size. They tend to be lighter but aren’t as easy to stuff between the cracks, so tops or bottoms of the bags are best. Be extra cautious with the propane, putting them in Ziploc baggies is recommended just in case they leak.

Water filters are best carried when put in their own small sack and clipped onto the outside of your bag. They’re a light weight item, don’t need to stay dry, and easily accessible on the outside of the backpack if you run out of water and stumble upon a little river or creek.

Tents, sleeping bags, and pads tend to be the heaviest of the gear. Sleeping bags and pads do well when stuffed all the way on the bottom of your pack. As mentioned earlier more weight should be focused down there. Tents or tarps can be strapped onto the outer bottom of your backpack, making sure the straps are tight and snug so there’s no movement and annoyances.

When packing apparel, you want to think practicality. What will you actually need? Depending on how long you’re hiking for, two outfits, a few pairs of underwear and socks, and warm clothes for sleeping in worked well for our 6- day journey. Along with the boots, you plan on wearing, having another pair of camp shoes like sandals or crocs are a good idea and can easily be clipped to the outside of your bag.

Last, but certainly not least….diabetes supplies and low snacks! Be sure to pack enough supplies for every day you’re on the trail and a few extras for good measure. You never know what may happen! Crazy unexpected things occur all the time, and being prepared for those incidences allows for smooth sailing on your trek. For the most part, our diabetes supplies and snacks are small and can be placed in the brain (top part) of your pack or in the side or outer pockets.

About Alicia de la Rosa

Alicia de la Rosa grew up in San Diego, CA and ventured across the country to Philadelphia, PA for college, where she graduated with a Bachelors in Film. Diagnosed a little over 2 years ago, she is determined to live the life she always wanted and not let this disease hold her back. She obtained her travel bug from her mother, who was her strongest supporter and encouraged Alicia to apply for this team. Alicia holds dear to her heart the memory of her mother and knows she’ll be there in spirit experiencing the North Coast Trail with her. She’s thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of such a motivating and enthusiastic team of those with Type 1 diabetes who wish to make a difference in the Type 1 diabetes community. She’s excited about this trek and to make new Type 1 friends with the same adventurous interests.