In the backpacking world, light and fast is often king. It makes sense: When you’re carrying your world on your back, every ounce makes a difference. That’s why people shave down their toothbrush handles and live on a fully freeze-dried diet.
But sometimes a small comfort item — one that isn’t totally necessary, but makes life in camp or on the trail much better — is totally worth the weight.
My comfort item is the Therm-a-Rest compressible pillow. It’s a little bit bulky, but after years of mediocre nights where I spent most of my after-dark hours re-shuffling the pile of clothes I was using as a makeshift pillow, I am more than happy to carry it. It makes my nights better, which, in turn, makes my days better.
Maybe it’s Corn Nuts, or really good chocolate, but having a tasty treat at camp can make the miles go by faster. Food makes for really good rewards when you’re moving around all day. Plus, your load will get lighter as you work through it.
On frosty mornings, cold fingers can be frustrating and limit your dexterity. Slipping hand warmers in your gloves will warm you up before you get moving.
You can also stick them into your sleeping bag — or your bra, if there are other places that need warming up.
Something to read
Staring at nature is great and all, but so is a good book. And when your body is tired from moving all day, it’s nice to work your mind instead.
On long backpacking trips, an e-reader like a Kindle — which is light, has a long battery life and can store a bunch of books — can be your best friend.
A friend of mine who trains the Air Force in wilderness skills swears by down booties on long winter trips. He says he gets a hard time at first, but that by the end of the trip everyone is jealous of his kicks and his warm toes.
Or what have you. Not trying to push any priorities here, but if you want something to sip by the campfire, booze is much lighter than beer.
Up your camping game with these tips
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