A Versatile Thru-Hiker Gift for $5

It’s December 21 and you’ve yet to go holiday shopping. If you’re like me, you’re hoping to get a thoughtful gift but also keep it on the cheap. Help!

Lucky for you, I’ve got an idea. Head to your nearest hardware or garden store and pick up … drum roll please … a foam garden kneeler. They even come in cool colors, like this and this.

I’m telling you, a garden kneeler can be one of the most useful items to carry for all 2,189 miles of the AT. Beyond making you (clearly) more fashionable, a garden kneeler can serve many functions:

  • Seat
  • Pillow
  • Bellows for the Fire
  • Cutting board
  • Hot pad
  • Extra waterproofing at the top of your pack
  • Pillow fight ammunition
  • and the list goes on!


I see your eyebrow raised, but trust me. Weeks before I started my thru-hike, I met a fellow who had hiked 500 garden kneelermiles of the AT the previous summer. Halfway through his section hike, he picked up a garden kneeler in town and later heralded it as the best piece of gear he carried. Immediately convinced, my hiking partner and I purchased garden kneelers and brought them with us on our journey. My wonderful purple garden pad traveled every step with me from Georgia to Maine. After a tough day with big miles, it’s an easy comfort to have something soft to sit on.


Did I mention that they’re cheap? And even you weight-conscious ultralighters, take note – the kneeler I carried weighed less than 1 ounce.

Now quit reading and go buy that garden kneeler. You can thank me later.


Yours in sitting comfort,

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Comments 1

  • Kira Thornley : Dec 21st

    Awesome tip! I use the z-sit pad from thermarest but they cost about $15 (I don’t remember) and fulfill about the same function! Clever!


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