“Should I take my Kindle?” and other conundrums when it comes to “luxury” items

Look, the truth is, I’m kind of a material girl, in a material world. I like having my stuff with me, especially when hiking. I’m always prepared for the eventual meltdown that will happen (it’s not a question of if, more a question of when). However, I don’t enjoy carrying a heavy backpack. In the end, all my research to get my gear as light as possible just comes down to this: I’m lazy.

So I decided to do a little experiment while hiking in New Zealand this December on several tracks (more on that in upcoming posts). I’ve only taken the bare necessities, so that I could determine which “luxury” items are actually a must for me, something I can’t live with for four to five months when I set off on the Pacific Crest Trail next year.

Here are the results. Don’t hesitate to shoot a comment if you think I’m wrong (I probably am), or send me a DM about it.

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What I’m taking after all

Base layer

We all make mistakes, and I’m not sure what I was thinking. After two weeks of hanging around camp in just my bra and puffy jacket (a vibe for sure), I’ve decided I need a base layer, if only to not traumatize my fellow hikers, and to be able to layer more efficiently when it get chilly.

Verdict: Yep, I’m packing it

Extra cup

I didn’t think this one was going to be a problem but it ended up being the one thing I bought after my hike of the Routeburn Track and before I set out on the Kepler Track. If I learnt one thing about myself on this first hike, it’s that I will simply not eat if I don’t have an extra cup to cook my dinners in. Something about the oils is disgusting to me, and I can’t have coffee, let alone oats in there in the morning. Now admittedly, I could eat from Ziploc bags, but this cup can double as a cold-soaking container. I use these from Ziploc, they’re great and super light (1.4 oz.)

Verdict: Absolutely, will not eat otherwise apparently.


Ever since sleeping horribly for a week on the Overland Track back in January 2022 because I didn’t have a pillow, I’ll die on that hill: I need one. I’m packing a tiny inflatable pillow that I got from the brand Trekology on Amazon. Is it the best pillow in the world? No, it’s just alright. Is it better than putting my dirty hiking clothes under my head? Yes.

Verdict: Yes.

Water bladder

I hiked with only two Smart water bottles this time around, because the CNOC 2L Vecto I had ordered arrived the day after I left my house. To be honest, I don’t 100% need it, but it will make my life significantly easier, not to mention bring my capacity up.

Verdict: Keeping it.

What I’m not taking


It hurts. I’m an avid reader, not in a cute way, more in a concerning, “get this girl to a therapist” way. I’ve had the debate of real books vs. Kindle many times, and look, the bottom line is, I read eight books in two weeks on the Larapinta Trail. I can’t carry eight books. So even though I love the idea of living my truest Wild dreams by carrying poetry on the trail, I’m going to go with digital books for now.

My Kindle is about seven years old, and I refuse to get another one until it dies. The battery is not as amazing as it used to be, and although I couldn’t picture myself thru-hiking without it for a long time, I’ve decided to try with just my phone. After trying it out the past three weeks, it was fine. It’s not as good as my Kindle, but it’s just fine.

Verdict: Not taking it


I have a super cute Luci solar powered inflatable lantern that I’m absolutely obsessed with. I’ll keep using it for shorter trips, but having a headlamp, it’s made redundant (even more so because I can still use my phone). I can’t really justify the added weight other than by saying “it’s soooo cute” so it’s a no for me.

Verdict: Sadly no

My little lantern in my tent on the Larapinta.

Power bank

After much consideration, I’ve decided that I’ll take my 20,000 mAh power bank instead of the one I usually take with me, that is “only” 10,000 mAh. Although I never ran out of battery on the three or four-day hikes I’ve done, I was lucky enough to have a zero day between each of them, so I had more than enough time to charge everything. On the PCT, I’m planning to take as little zero days as possible, to save both time and money. Taking a 20,000 mAh power bank should enable me to stop less in town and spend more time on the trail. Plus, it’s not that ridiculous of a weight gain.

Verdict: Upgrading to the bigger one

The jury is still out

Camp shoes

When I hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc, in 2020, I promised myself that I would never again hike without camp shoes. My feet were in so much pain at the end of the day (I had 12 blisters by the end of the hike, fun times), that I would be limping everywhere. I hated it so much. However, since getting in better hiking shape, getting socks that don’t give me thousands of blisters and trail running shoes, my feet are sometimes sore by the end of the day, but nothing unbearable.

I’m still thinking about it because I like the idea of letting my feet breathe in my super cute fake Teva sandals at the end of the day, but it’s become a real “luxury” for me. I just don’t need it.

Verdict: not sure because of PTSD, but I probably won’t take them

Tripod and shutter

I carry a tiny tiny tripod and an even tinier remote shutter to take photos of myself. It’s made more or less necessary because I’m usually hiking alone, and if not, I’m an incredibly awkward person when people offer to take pictures of me. My favorite pictures are usually the ones I’ve taken of myself. It’s always a nice souvenir and a way to prove to my family that I’m indeed still alive and have not cried yet today.

Verdict: I’ll probably take them because they’re so small and light  

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Comments 8

  • Anette : Dec 31st

    Thanks for sharing your reflections on necessary and not so necessary equipment. It is fairly comparable to my own thoughts and experiences. But I was wondering about one detail. In the gear list you have included a small shovel, but you have not included toilet paper. Is it just an oversight, or do you think you can do without it? I tried to manage without tp on a hike some years back, but that was not a success, I can tell. Leaves, grass, stones etc. did not function to me.

    • Björn Dziambor : Jan 2nd

      Good thoughts! I went on a two week’s hike without a kindle in August and decided afterwards, that I will definitely take one with me, to safe my phone’s battery. Time will tell, if it is the right decision!

      • Björn Dziambor : Jan 2nd

        Sorry, this comment was ment to stay on its own… 😀

      • Margot Favennec : Jan 3rd

        Thanks 🙂 It definitely hurts to leave it at home and I can completely understand why you wouldn’t! I’m kind of amazed reading on my phone worked for me, but I’m glad to save that weight!

    • Margot Favennec : Jan 3rd

      Toilet paper is considered a “consumable” so traditionally you wouldn’t include it in a gear list 🙂 I do take some, although I’d probably more lean towards wet wipes and pack them out!

      • Anette : Jan 4th

        Thank! I understand.

  • Roxy Knight : Jan 3rd

    Very cool article.

    I love my Tevas for water crossing and camp shoes.
    An emergency space blanket style bivy bag I consider essential, as super light , and can prevent one from freezing to death in emergency situation.
    Basic med kit for blisters and wounds
    Some type of water treatment eg lifestraw
    A kindle a tough call.

    You out there doing it go you !!

  • Bart : Jan 27th

    How many luxury items people bring with them on long trails depends on how fast they want to do the trail.

    If you’re in a time crunch, then you won’t need a Kindle. The thought is you get up when it’s light and hike until about 30 minutes before dark. You should be tired enough that all you want to do is put up your tent, eat dinner, jump into your sleeping bag and crash. You won’t feel like throwing a frisbee, doing hacky sack, or prolonging the time you’re awake. Even if you tried to read a book, you’d read the first 3 sentences and then fall asleep.

    If you’ve got lots of time, and plan on stop hiking around 4 o’clock, visit with people, sit by the fire, tell stories, and read your Kindle…then yeah.

    The problem with taking your time is often people don’t get their miles in, and are suddenly way behind where they should be. But then again, some folks are fine to take two summers to do a long trail though. So it just depends what your goals are.


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