The 3 things I must have on any backpacking trip
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
My life as an outdoorsman did not being until my early 20's. I was too punk rock for the boy scout uniform. My dad always said that his version of camping was "a hotel room without cable." I didn't serve in the military. So when I started hiking, I had no best practices to draw from. It was all trial and error... and then more error. So, after two decades of backpacking, these are the little things that I cannot do without. 1. Fresh Fruit
The default for any new hiker is the food section at your local outdoor equipment store. What you will find there is dehydrated meals, protein bars, goo's and gummies. While all that stuff is good, eating packaged food gets old real fast. There is something incredibly satisfying and rejuvenating about biting into a fresh piece of fruit on a hot, dusty trail. I personally prefer naval oranges due to their thick peel that can take a beating for a few days in my pack. Yes, this does mean carrying significant water weight. But the payoff is worth it.
2. Aquaphor (Vaseline also works)
I have long, ape-like toes. For years, I would pack moleskin for the inevitable blisters that would form between my long appendages as they rubbed together inside my boot. A few years ago a friend recommended that every morning I rub Vaseline between my toes to eliminate the skin-on-skin friction. I chose Aquaphor instead, because I default to water-based products. Those pesky blisters never came back.
3. 550 Cord (aka Paracord)
Many backpacking gear lists will include a length of rope. I used to haul around a 20 foot length of climbing rope that I only used as a clothesline once or twice. I switched to 550 cord and found it to be both less bulky and more useful. I've replaced broken boot laces with it. I've used it to tie up a rain fly over my hammock. I've used it to hang bear bags. I've replaced broken zipper-pulls on my backpack with it. The applications are endless.