A Luxurious Lifestyle: Hiker’s Extra Items on the AT

Hikers are obsessed with their weight. No, I’m not talking about body image (although I did find myself asking if my zip off pants make my butt look big). I’m talking about the pack that you piggyback for miles on end. Slimming down your pack to the bare necessities is a huge step in embarking on any hike, and it’s probably not a surprise to hear that every single little ounce counts. I once read a forum where a man joked that he was debating between two credit cards, wanting to choose the lightest one. I’m not sure he was actually joking. Another classic tale involves a hiker so set on minimizing that he exchanges two nickels for a dime.

With this topic in mind, I decided that a good ice breaker for meeting people on the trail would be to ask them about the ‘luxury item’ they chose to bring. Meaning, what did they pack that they knew they could technically live without, but that they didn’t want to. It’s amazing that people skimp on weight in regards to tents, first aid kits, or stoves, but don’t mind packing these following items:

Food/drink

To my surprise, a lot of hikers I spoke with packed booze. Whether it was airplane bottles of Fireball, a Dasani bottle full of Malibu, a flask of whiskey, or a 6-pack of beer, good play I say. Others brought bottles of seasoning, Coca Cola, 12 ounces of chocolate (can’t lie, that one was me), a skillet, and heavy fruit. Instant coffee is also a very common luxury item, though I add this one to the list unwillingly. To me, coffee is as essential to my survival as my sleeping bag, but I suppose some would argue me that it’s necessary.

Entertainment

Books and journals are probably the most common luxuries packed as far as entertainment. The ones that really impressed me were the hardcover novels or leather bound diaries. Some hikers brought bibles, fancy pens and art supplies. Another popular item was a deck of cards, though I also spoke with a person that packed a chessboard. Harmonicas you see a lot, and the occasional ukulele. I saw one kid with a skateboard. And lastly for entertainment, music devices. One hiker packed his cellphone, as well as an older iPod and iPhone that each had its own music library on it.

Beauty/comfort

Women often pack luxury items such as razors and deodorant. There was one fellow I spoke with that packed dry shampoo. I’ve seen mouthwash, hair brushes, coconut oil, soap, and even an eyebrow pencil, all of which you don’t actually need, but that some people want to carry. For comfort, a lot of hikers will bring extra clothes to keep warm, which can get pretty heavy when it all adds up. Also, pillows, towels, and 2-person tents. The tent, of course, is only a luxury if you’re a solo hiker. A couple of hikers I spoke with opt for the 2-person tent for just themselves, in order to ‘spread my shit out’ as one man put it.

Miscellaneous

This is the fun category. I spoke with hikers that packed marijuana, tobacco, vapes, pipes and other tools. One man brought a back scratcher because he didn’t have his wife to do it. GPS systems were popular, as were solar chargers. Another luxury item I saw a lot were plastic figurines or key chains that held sentimental value, such as a hula-dancer named Darla or a Forest Ranger Lego. And to finish off the list, my favorite luxury item that I came across. Two female hikers I spoke with carried what is called a She-wee. This is a device that a woman can use to avoid the process of squatting to pee. I can’t explain it much further, and just ask that you google this invention. It may be my immaturity, but I’m still laughing as I type this. Hey, they swore by them.

So far, that’s the detailed list of the luxury items I’ve come across. It continues to grow with every unique person I meet. Keep in mind that everyone has a different definition of luxury. Some may argue that a notebook isn’t a luxury if they’re writing for a blog, or that chocolate isn’t a luxury because it’s a good source of calories, etc… overall, every single person packs something that they could survive without, but that they simply don’t want to. I think our luxury items can tell a lot about us, don’t you think?

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Comments 6

  • Aej : Apr 21st

    love it. absolutely love it!

    Reply
  • Kate G : Apr 21st

    Wow, I don’t consider my pStyle stand-to-pee device a luxury, I consider it an essential part of my bathroom kit like my trowel. Chocolate is a necessity as well. My Kindle and a battery pack are my luxury items. And my 3D-printed tiny foxtato.

    Reply
    • ChristineT : Apr 28th

      Yes…my GoGirl is amazing. I’ve read good things about the PStyle though. I may get one this summer to try it out. More than makes up for the weight in wipes/tp.

      Reply
  • Joe Hollywood : Apr 21st

    I think prospective thruhikers talk about weight. I think just starting thruhikers worry about weight.

    Thruhikers almost never talk about weight or gear in my experience. It’s an overblown issue. Luxury items reduce the psychological weight on a thruhikers spirit. I carry cans of coke and bratwurst.

    I know nothing about the stand to pee thing and it constantly amazes me how mysterious women are.

    Reply
  • Jen : Apr 23rd

    I also would not consider a pstyle/she-wee a luxury item. Mine saved me from a lot of embarrassment on a recent hike in a non-wooded area that had no hidden spots where I would have been able to squat to pee out of sight of the trail. I’m not sure why these devices are so often the subject of scorn/ridicule/wonder. If you’re a woman and don’t want one, that’s cool, but it seems like a no-brainer to me to take advantage of a cheap, lightweight piece of plastic that allows me to keep all of my parts warm and covered up. I see how it could sound strange if you had never heard of one before, but a lot of hikers use and love them!

    Reply
  • Josh : Apr 24th

    So what about a hammock vs a tent? With a small tarp for cover? Just as long as the weights less.? This is very interesting.

    Reply

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