Palisades Campsite - Madison River
Camped at Palisades on the Madison River.

Lists. Some people thrive on making lists. I can appreciate the satisfaction that comes with checking off items on “to-do” lists as well. But most of the time, once all of the items are ticked off, the list goes away.

This is not the case with trip checklists. I can barely recall where I keep these things (currently in a tattered high school style composition book – and floating around in folders on a computer I can never seem to find). They also differ widely from trip to trip, location to location.

So in the interest of a virtual archive that may just be helpful to you, here’s my checklist for 12 days in eastern and central Idaho and southwestern Montana, July 3rd – 16th. I plan to spend five or six nights in comfortable accommodations and the balance of the nights camping. (I mean Larry Keel is playing at Trouthunter in Island Park, Id., on July 4th for goodness sake – I’ve got to go and stay there, right? And if you’re in the area and not planning to spend a night at the Murray Hotel in Livingston, Mt., you’re doing it wrong.)

Important notes: I do not plan on doing any serious backcountry camping. I plan to be within a four hour walk/hike of my vehicle maximum at all times. I’m also flying from Atlanta to Boise, so weight is a factor since I’m limited to a max 50 pound checked bag and one carry on (the carry on will be my vest and day pack combo).

Fishing Gear

  • Rods & reels (4 wt. Sage SLT 8’, 5wt. Redington CPS 9’ and Voekler reels)
  • Vest (pack – I’m testing a couple of things this trip)
  • Hat with big brim and back of neck coverage
  • Wading boots (Protip: stuff your boots with your socks and underwear
  • Neoprene boot footies (What are those called?)
  • Waders (I don’t use waders, but 99 percent of anglers do)
  • Trekking / wading poles
  • Leaders, fly boxes
  • Snips, forceps, floatant, et. al.
  • Sun gloves and mask thing (What are those called? Buffs?)
  • Net
  • Sunglasses and spares

Camp Gear

  • Tent and footprint (I’m using a lightweight Kelty Salida 2)
  • Cook kit and burner (I’m using an MSR Whisper Light Universal and MSR minimalist cook kit. Do NOT take fuel. It is dangerous and unlawful. Buy your fuel when you reach your destination.)
  • Sleeping bag and inflatable pillow
  • Inflatable sleeping pad (Thermarest AND lightweight dense foam pad) – protip: find a “dollar” or “general store” at your destination and invest in a cheap mattress pad even if you have to leave it behind. The dense foam core as a base, then the inflatable pad and then the foam mattress cover makes for an entirely comfortable tent sleeping set up)
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Survival: lint, matches in waterproof container, lighters, flint & steel, water tabs, knife, emergency blanket
  • Ear plugs (you snore, admit it, the rest of the campsite snores, and I’d rather not hear it)


  • Waterproof rain coat (or wading jacket)
  • Hiking boots, Tevas
  • Polyprops (tops and bottoms, long sleeved and short sleeved - Patagonia)
  • Convertible, quick dry pants (REI)
  • Socks: wool for wading (Simms)
  • Fast dry t-shirts and underwear (REI, Redington, Under Armor)
  • Warm, wooly hat
  • Waterproof rain hat (the ubiquitous and overpriced Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero)
  • ONE warm fleece jacket
  • ONE other warm fleece layer
  • Three “other” shirts – all of which must be quick drying and preferably not “loud” colors, including no white for this trip (Simms, Patagonia & REI)
  • Two pair regular pants – also preferably quick drying (Kuhls are currently my favorites)
  • Caps


  • First aid kit
  • Camera, memory cards and battery charger
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Watch
  • Books and journal (If you go to Idaho and don’t take the Flyfisher’s Guide by Ken Retallic & Rocky Barker, you’re doing it wrong)
  • Compass and GPS (If you have one)
  • Maps (If you have them)
  • Solar charger
  • Phone, wall and car chargers, and phone protector
  • Nalgene water bottle (Protip: put your warm wooly hat, bandana, socks, etc. in this when packing)
  • Flask
  • Dry bag(s)
  • Make a copy of your passport or driver’s license and put it somewhere safe
  • Your air, car and hotel confirmations – hard copy
  • Cash (Protip: alert your credit card and debit card banks that you will be leaving town – this prevents having to deal with a safety-block on your cards while on your trip when using them outside of your normal locations.)
  • Stabucks Via instant coffee (Lightweight, and totally worth it)
  • MP3 player and a car “converter” – Not all rental cars are Bluetooth enabled.

Am I missing anything, folks?


Bear spray?

Hey Gink - sorry for the late reply... just got my login issue sorted out. // Definitely bear spray for the areas I visited, including a couple of legit pieces of grizzly country. I should have added that, but also noted that like camp fuel, you can't fly with that stuff and it must be acquired on location. Also - travelers must be prepared to essentially make a gift of it to a local before heading home. The upside to leaving it behind is that whomever you leave it with should really appreciate it. The stuff is $50 after all.

Over the years of traveling to big sky area and Yellowstone country to fish we got sick of buying bear spray and cooking fuel only to have to give it away, so we started shipping it from our house to a flyshop and we'd pick it up for the week then ship it back home saved hundreds on bear spray over the last few years between the four of us!

Not a bad plan. We were sort of happy to give it away when we left Yellowstone last time, though. We popped into a ranger station and offered it to the rangers. They were extremely appreciative, noting how often hikers show up unprepared (as in, with no bear spray).

Wear your wading boots on the plane. Put your lighter casual shoes in your checked bag and you'll net 2 or 3 pounds. Every little bit helps. If you really want to save weight in your checked bag....wear your waders as well. TSA be damned. :-)