Hello Ultralight, Goodbye Inflatable Doughnut
Just like most aspiring thru-hikers, I am trying to make my base weight as light as possible. Every gram (or as you say in the States, ounce) makes a difference. Hence, so long bottom of my tooth brush, farewell small portable mirror, auf Wiedersehen deodorant.
Throughout my years of canoe camping and backpacking, I have progressively said goodbye to more and more items. Now, when I think back at some of the items I used to take backpacking, I can’t help but laugh a bit at myself.
Here is a list of things that throughout the years I have progressively said so long farewell to:
A Portable Chair
Yes, I used to clip onto my bag a portable chair. Now, this isn’t one of those foam seat cushions I’m talking about; I’m talking about a metallic tripod-style chair that grandparents bring to the beach to watch their kids splash in the ocean. It weighed three pounds, and yes, I hauled it on my back for 300km.
An Inflatable Doughnut for Swimming
Because, who knows when you might find a river to drift down? I would like to add that my doughnut was shaped as a rainbow unicorn (which obviously tremendously adds to the value of this item).
A Small Green Boat that I Used as a Dish
This is before my mind was blown to pieces when I discovered that you can eat out of the same pot you cook in. Imagine that! Also, of course every hiker needs to eat out of a boat (I still can’t wrap my head around what made me want to pick out a boat as my dish at the dollar store).
An Industrial Amount of Duct Tape
In my defense, duct tape is incredibly useful; besides being a great repair tool, duct tape can serve as great entertainment. At the canoe camp that I used to go to, one group of teenagers who went on a 35-day canoe trip presented, upon their return, a duct tape fashion show. Duct tape socks, duct tape dresses, duct tape kilts. You name it, they had it.
Three Sets of Backup Headlamp Batteries
Because, everyone knows that you don’t just need a backup, or a backup to your backup, you need a backup to your backup to your backup.
One of the things I like so much about backpacking is that it makes me realize that I truly don’t need very much to be happy. I have no doubt that over the course of my thru-hike some items in my bag will be eliminated. I remember when I was hiking the Long Trail I crossed paths with an Appalachian thru-hiker named Tasteless. Tasteless’s backpack looked like a schoolbag. The contents of his bag: a sleeping bag, a bag of potato chips, and a couple of extra odd items. I don’t think that over the course of my thru-hike I will ever bid farewell to my air mattress, but perhaps at the end of my thru-hike I might laugh a bit at a couple of items that I thought were essential at the beginning of my hike.
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An old adage for paring excess weight suggests…’baring any emergency gear, if an item from within the pack is not a part of the daily routine, consider removing it from the pack if not needed the following day as well.’