“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
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
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.
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
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
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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