Reducing Pack Weight After The Big 3 – Bag Of Magic Potions

It’s a well-known fact that the easiest way to reduce your base weight is by scrutinizing your Big 3. Tent, Sleeping Bag, Backpack. You might have just dropped $1,200 on the lightest, most badass Big 3. But then what? Are you just going to throw bulky clothes and giant tubes of sunscreen in your pack before hitting the trails?

It’s taken me years to refine the little tubes of magic potions that I carry. Travel sizes are a nice place to start but ultimately, it’s always more than one person needs. Plus, I’m picky. As a cancer survivor I care about my exposure to chemicals, especially those in hygiene products. My potion bag was first revolutionized when I found dropper bottles that were small enough. Because of the size and color selection, Ultralite Outfitters is my go-to shop for mini dropper bottles.

So here’s what I carry:
image
10 ml dropper with Hibiclens – Due to my high susceptibility to infections, I use this toxic and very powerful anti-bacterial wash instead of anti-biotic ointment like Neosporin. I also use it to sanitize my needle before blister management. The 10 ml droppers are a bit on the big side but filling them is enough for an entire thru-hike.

6 ml dropper with Dr. Bronners Liquid Soap – For body and hair on those lucky days there’s a shower but no soap. Works in the washing machine too!

10 ml dropper with MSR Sweet Water Purifier Solution – It’s basically bleach and my only water treatment method.

image
contact lens cases with sunscreen, shea cream and chafe cream – The second revolution. This way I can carry my favorite organics without a lot of weight. The two lens cases with magic potions weigh a total of 1.4 ounces. I choose to cover my body with clothing rather than use lots of sunscreen so one eye cap should be enough. A new special addition for the AT is the butt paste. Wish me luck. And I love my shea cream so I’ve got two caps worth.

image
essential oils – three 5/8 dram glass bottles with Lavender, Peppermint and Tea Tree oils. More details on Lady on a Rock’s blog here, which includes a Spark Naturals coupon code. They look heavy but the three only weigh .6 ounces. Lavender is handy for burns, stings, cuts, chafe and as deodorant. Peppermint oil works on ticks, knocks out headaches and clears my sinuses. Tea Tree (Melaleuca) oil is good for flu, cold, athlete’s foot, throat gargle and rash.

image
first aide kit – to repair me and my gear (3.1 oz)
~bandaids – 5. Maybe a couple extra at the beginning of a trip.
~moleskin – small square
~q-tips
~leukotape – Homemade strips on address label paper.
~manager knife – Gots to have my bottle opener, but I use the scissors the most.
~nail clippers
~needle tucked into ray-way thread
~emergency fire = lighter and candle
~safety pin
~cuben fiber tape
~thermarest repair = glue dot and patch
~tenacious tape – small square

dental kit (1.1 oz.)
~Zpacks toothbrush
~waxed floss – also for blisters and gear repair
~Zpacks toothpaste

I section them off into ziploc freezer PINT bags and then put the bags into my handy 1 gallon paint strainer stuff sac. The magic potions weigh in at 3.3 oz., dental kit at 1.1 oz., repair kit at 3.1 oz. That’s a total of 7.5 ounces for my Harry Potter bag of tricks.

Getting your magic potions into such small portions definitely takes time. Probably as much time as you spent researching your Big 3. But when you bust out your little bag of potions, you’ll be the envy of the trail. For my entire gear list visit my blog, Journey Return.

image

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 13

  • Avatar
    Robin : Dec 29th

    How do you use the sweet water? Is there another part to the system? Thanks

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Lion Heart : Dec 29th

    Hi Robin! I use the sweet water drops, which are like bleach, to purify my water. The drops are intended to be used in conjunction with msr’s sweet water filter. I don’t have the filter. I use 0-5 drops per liter depending on water source. Wait 5 minutes and it’s ready to go. It’s fast and lightweight. Yes, it’s not a totally full proof method but has worked for me so far. Thanks for the interest!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Gay : Dec 29th

    So very interesting. I have seen so slim essential lists but this is the slimmest I’ve seen. Would you mind going in more detail about what other essentials you pack?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Lion Heart : Dec 29th

      Hi Gay! Thank you for the shout out and kind words. Have you looked at my complete gearlist (link at end of article)? It’s pretty detailed. Because I no longer have a thyroid, temperature issues (COLD!) are usually my biggest challenge on trail. I carry extra layers to stay warm. But all my light gear would be irrelevant if it weren’t for my synthetic thyroid hormone. Without it, a hard day would be getting out of bed and moving to the couch. Not listed in the above blog was my bag of pills: a few ibuprofen, antihistamine, anti-diarrhea, vicodin, thyroid hormone. I guess I don’t carry a lot of stuff because unless I have a broken leg, I’ll be able to get to civilization within a day or two. Doing these kinds of trips has taught me how tough and resiliant the human body is. If you have any other specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Happy trails!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Gay : Dec 29th

    PS. Most importantly, I salute you and your survival. I have several friends in that club and know what a special one it is. I don’t know what your life was like before but it is certainly inspiring now.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Alison Coltrane : Dec 29th

    I learned a lot by reading your blog! I’ll see about having some of these items here at Open Arms Hostel and educating those who want to shed weight. I hope you stop in to see us on your NOBO.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Lion Heart : Dec 29th

    Hi Alison! Wow, thank you for the response. I never know if these blogs help folks so I’m excited to hear that you’ll be spreading the knowledge! I’ll definitely put Open Arms on my list of must-stops!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jamie Ferrugiaro : Dec 29th

    I’ve never backpacked yet, but I’m considering trying these guys out for camping and I wonder if you could save weight versus the tube version? One box is .03 oz which may be around 40 tabs (and some reviews claim being able to use half a tab, so 1/2 tab X however many times you’ll need to brush).

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jamie Ferrugiaro : Dec 29th

      Oh boy I’m a dummy, forgot to say what. “Toothy Tabs” by LUSH Cosmetics (online order or select store locations, usually not many unfortunately). https://www.lushusa.com/Toothy-Tabs/toothy-tabs,en_US,sc.html

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Lion Heart : Dec 30th

        Hi Jamie! I checked out your link and it looks like the listed size of each drop is .3 oz (as a volume not a weight) so I’m not sure what the 40 tabs weigh. You could make you own smaller toothpaste tabs by squeezing little drops onto waxed paper and drying. Thanks for the question.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Bill : Dec 31st

    You may have addressed this elsewhere, but do you plan to use a bounce box with refills for your small bottles and consumables?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Lion Heart : Dec 31st

    Hi Bill! I’ve never used a bounce box and don’t intend to on the AT. I think my potions/lotions will last the entire trip. If not, there’s the probability of hiker box extras or I can purchase something in town. I guess that’s one of the lessons of the trail. Learning how resolve issues as they arise. I might not be able to find exactly what I want but I’ll get something. Plus, things like lotion/shampoo might be provided at hostels. If I do have a resupply box sent to me I could have replacements sent. Thanks for the question!

    Reply

What Do You Think?