Worth the Weight: 7 Things that Carry Themselves
A hiker can go mad trying to slim their gear list down to Ultralight. I’m here to proudly put stuff back on your back. To some, long distance hiking is cutting down your stuff until all’s left is an emergency blanket and a stick of butter. Some ounces carry themselves. These items are worth every gram for the time and pain they can save you.
1. Town Shirt
I’m talking something cotton, maybe buttons, or blousey. A Town Shirt can be worn at night when your hiking shirt is sweaty and starting to mildew, helps your chances getting a hitch/ride into town, and gives yourself a fighting chance with the local towny talent. A cleaner shirt with help dull down your scraggly, beardfaced, stranger vibe. Don’t want to commit to ruining or carrying you favorite shirt the whole hike? Pick one up at a Good Will in town and ditch it in a hiker box a few towns up.
2. Chafe Stick
If this product cost 100 dollars, I’d buy it happily. Luckily it isn’t, so you can use it lucratively without worry. Chafing is inevitable and some of the worst pain you will feel on a hike. Even scrawny, bow legged hikers find a way to get a chapped ass. Some people apply preemptively in the morning, others at the first sign of distress. I put a bikini of chafe stick on before I did the 44 mile 4 state challenge and it kept me from having any problems. 2 of my friends did not and had severe chafing and scabbing in delicate places. Gold Bond Friction Stick is my lube of choice.
3. Needle and Thread
Nothing forces the harsh reality of your gear’s mortality like a thru hike. Is stuff even suppose to last more than 2000 miles of hiking? Most of it will not and that’s where this baby comes in. Being confident with a needle and thread (or knowing someone nearby that is) keeps you hiking more consistently and not worrying about your things. Backpacks, jackets, clothes, all will tare and need some love. Being able to perform gear first aid in the field will pay off in times and comfort.
PS: Dental floss is crazy strong and works well. Get non scented to stay bear safe.
4. Poop Shovel
When you have a frequent job, its worth having the tool to do it right. Many hikers use their trekking pole or a rock but nothing with get you to the desired 5 to 8 inches faster then a poop shovel. During a time in your life where you literally do not have seconds to spare, a good tool is the difference between lowering your impact with a cat hole or surface dumping and degrading someone’s outdoor experience and water supply (sounds like an overstatement until you step on a turd in the woods). Plastic or even metal shovels may bend if you force them to lift a boulder, so use grace.
Most people will bring hand sanitizer on the trail and they should. Soap is heavy but cleanliness is important. The most common medical ailment in the woods is stomach distress (mostly caused by poo particles). Its important to get scent free hand sanitizer so you don’t have to hang it in a bear bag every night. You should hang all of your stuff that’s scented but should be able to get up, grab your shovel, sani, and TP at a moments notice.
A lot of folks say you don’t get the traction with rubber tips but that just isn’t true. Plunging your pole tip an inch into the earth a billion times in a summer is worse for the trail and its starting to show. Tips keep you from scratching rocks, penetrating soil, and causing erosion. You can grip on rock, more stably, and with greater surface area. Your shoes soles aren’t metal are they? The Black Diamond Tips are my favorite.
7. Electrolyte Powder aka Sugar Drink
One of the battles everyone fights while long distance hiking (others being with your body, mind, wallet, stash, and hygiene) is with hydration. Delicious sugary beverages encourage you to drink more and can replace electrolytes you’re constantly depleting. I actually believe using Gatorade or other electrolye replacement drink means you can get away with drinking less***. You get more back and drink more regularly (because sugar is delicious). If you chemically treat your water, I HIGHLY recommend getting something to help cover the smell so you wont subconsciously drink less because chlorine is gross.
***I have a degree in Recreation, not medicine. Take with a grain of salt.
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