When I was thinking about what I would say are my 5 favorite items in my pack- I ran into a problem… I only have have a few things I would say are my FAVORITES. I run a pretty skeleton crew as far as that goes. My base weight is only about 10 pounds, so I don’t have much in the way of luxury items. For the sake of coming up with a decent list (5), I decided to go with what I would consider my must-haves; the items I just couldn’t see myself going on a long hike without. This of course does not include the essentials… Disclaimer- by “long hike” I mean more than just a couple nights and more than 40 or so miles. Your definition of a long hike however, is completely up to you!
I put some amazon links in here, but remember you can always visit your local gear shop as well, and support local! When I’m in the Black Hills I go to Granite Sports in Hill City, and when I’m in the city I go to Roam’n Around.
1. My fanny pack!
When trying to think of my top five, this is the first thing that came to mind. I know that this item doesn’t go IN my pack, but I’m the one writing this and I decided to include it! The reason I originally started using a fanny pack is simply because my new pack did not have hip belt pockets. I don’t like carrying my phone in my shorts pocket, and other things like snacks (especially with chocolate) don’t do well in your pocket either. I was at REI on Scottsdale and happened to find a Patagonia fanny pack on sale for $20 so I went for it. I wasn’t sure how I would like it, but I ended up absolutely loving it. Not only could I fit my phone, but I could fit some snacks in it, and my charger too! Don’t worry, this isn’t some huge fanny pack from 1988, its actually pretty small and subtle.
I’m the type that will not eat while hiking if I have to stop and dig out food from my backpack. Having some food right there on my waist is definitely an incentive to eat. Another plus side is that the more you eat, the less weight you have hanging in front of you!
A friend of mine went on a hike in Utah and asked to borrow the fanny pack, and he became a believer as well. Don’t listen to the haters- all the cool kids are wearing fanny packs these days. When in town I will use the fanny pack as my wallet. It’s very nice not to have to carry a plastic bag around full of credit cards, cash and ID.
Check out High Tail Designs for some pretty awesome looking fannies! I haven’t personally tried them, so can’t vouch for them but they look pretty awesome. Good chance I’m getting one soon.
2. Sea to summit long handled spoon
If you’ve ever been on a hike and thought you lost your spoon, you know the definition of panic. Yes, you could always fashion a spoon from a stick or something, but that spoon sure is a valuable piece of gear. Listen close- (or… read close) YOU DO NOT NEED A FORK, A SPORK, A BUTTER KNIFE, OR ONE OF THOSE COMBI-UTENSIL THINGS! A spoon is all you need. To be more specific, a long handled spoon is all you need. With a long handled spoon, you get to stir deep into your pot or your mountain-house type meal without getting your hands all messy. Better yet, you don’t get your messy hands into your food. A spoon (even the handle) can be also used for cutting softer foods, negating the need for a knife.
I have never been on a hike and thought “man, I could really use a fork right now”. Remember, you will most likely not be eating a chicken breast or a ribeye when you’re on the trail. If you are, its most likely from a trail angel and they’ll probably have utensils for you. The weight, versatility and practicality of the long handled spoon is not anything to doubt!
3. Wet wipes
It gets dirty on the trail. EVERYTHING gets dirty. And smelly. And grimy and sticky. Wet wipes are the closest thing you may have to a shower for a while when you’re out there. I don’t use them for my armpits or hands often, unless I am at around stage 6 hiker trash. Wet wipes are to be used sparingly- pretty much just the ‘ol undercarriage. It’s honestly a safety issue in addition to a hygiene issue. You want to minimize the chance of bacteria from down there spreading to anywhere else. Another benefit is that sometimes you feel like a brand new person after a good wet-wipin’! Just remember to pack your used wipes out with you and dispose of them properly. LNT!
4. Battery pack
I wish I could tell you the brand of the battery pack I have used over the last couple years but I can’t. I bought it while in the checkout line of a department store on a whim for $15. It is a 10,000 mAh charger with two USB ports, and I will usually get about 2.5 full charges on my iPhone with it. If I am on airplane mode and ration out my time on podcasts, books and music, 2.5 charges will last me a week no problem. I have tried solar chargers and found them to be nothing but frustrating. In my opinion the battery pack is the only way to go. In fact I’m charging this tablet with it as I type!
Anker makes a 10k mAh charger that is very popular. You can find that on amazon here https://amzn.to/33HmkEi
5. Marmot puffy
Aside from my pot cozy, I am pretty sure this jacket has been the only constant in my loadout for many years. I bought it on a last minute deal the day before i was to head out on a 112 mile hike. I needed a puffy and it was the only one in my price range that also happened to meet my specs. I can’t tell you much about it besides that it is green, 700 fill and Marmot brand. It is held together by duct tape, sweat and lots of desert sand. I have used this as a pillow, a blanket, a sitting pad and much more. It has never let me down…. Get it? Down? Nevermind… Anyway- when researching the right jacket, don’t just look at the price and color. Think reliability. Will this stand up to snow, sand, sharp granite walls, prickly bushes and freezing mornings? A good jacket is somewhat of an expensive investment. Do you see yourself using this brand/fill for several years under all kinds of conditions? This is definitely an item that you will want to research well before you buy.
Well there you go! There’s the 5 things that I guess i would say are my five favorite things. I do plan on taking an extra luxury item with me on my next big hike, so we’ll see what happens there. Maybe a book to read or something to write in.
What are your must haves?
Do you have questions about what i carry in my backpack? Or my daypack? Leave a comment or inbox me via email or on a social media platform and maybe we’ll do an article or post about the topic!