There’s nothing quite like a little comfort from home. When you’re on the trail for a while it’s always a nice touch to add a little comfort from home to your drab bag of camping equipment. As far as what to bring, everyone’s preference is different, but always unique and interesting. I don’t carry a lot, but I carry a few small items with me and I figured I’d list them out:
Pillow – I don’t understand how people go into the back country without a pillow. I’ve tried everything to save the weight and space, but there’s nothing that compares to an actual pillow. For me, I carry a small compressible backpacking pillow. I’ve tried the “trail friendly” versions, like stuffing my cloths in a sack, rolling up a jacket, and all the other options, but nothing works for me the way that my trail pillow does.
Flip Flops – Clearly this is only in the summer, but a good set of flip flops on the trail is an amazing thing to have. I love hopping into camp; popping off my boots and slipping into my Chaco flip flops. My feet dry out, cool off and air out and it just makes the end of the day that much better. In the winter I’ll sometimes substitute these for a pair of Crocs, but as often as I can I still use my time tested flip flops.
ENO Twilights – I love to carry these with me as well. It’s a newer addition to my gear, but they do a wonderful job of providing light that isn’t controlled by the motion of my head. It’s also night to take off my headlamp from time to time and still be able to see. Whether reading, playing cards or cooking dinner, the addition of this super versatile AAA-battery powered lighting system has become a staple in my camping equipment.
Letters – For shorter trips I don’t carry much with me in the way of personal affects, but for long trips I’ll usually ask some folks for a couple of letters. They’re not much, and nothing important. My girlfriend usually sends me word puzzles and my mom always sends me something mushy and mom-like. It’s not so much for the sentiment of hearing from home; frankly it’s nice to have for the surprise of not knowing what’s in them.
Photos – Again, when I’m working long trips I like to carry a couple of photos with me. Once again, not so much for the sentiment of home, although that is an added benefit, it’s mostly because they’re nice to have to show people. I’ll carry a photo of my dog, my girl and my family usually, plus one or two of my house and my truck. I do this less and less with the ease and access to cell phones, but before I carried my phone around with me they were a nice touch to add to the conversation.
Anyone who has spent some time outside knows the value of home cooking. I love to bring a few items out with me to pass the time, and often schedule some surprises into my resupplies as well.
Whiskey – I know, its super cliché, but I love a good stock of whiskey when I’m outdoors. I don’t need a lot, but a half pint or so is just enough to treat me to a decent evening in the back country. I’ll tuck a tiny bottle in my resupplies, or carry a larger bottle over the weekends. Oddly enough I tend to leave this at home for my 5-10 day trips even though I’d call it a necessity for any trip longer or shorter.
Pistachio Pudding & Mini-Milk – This is weird. I know that. As a kid I used to love eating pistachio pudding. I’m pretty sure I didn’t care about the flavor I just loved that it was green. Ever since I discovered those Horizon 8oz Milk boxes, I’ve started carrying one with a packet of Jello Pistachio Pudding. It’s a little heavy, but the milk stays good until you open it and on a hot day you can make the pudding in a Nalgene, soak it in the river and Voila!, a wonderful afternoon snack.
Eggs, Bacon, Bagels & Cream Cheese – Most people call me crazy, but I’m a sucker for scrambled eggs and bacon in the woods. I LOVE to carry these with me especially if I’m on a long re-supplied trip. Hiking into town after 10 days on the trail and turning around to go back out always involves a quick grocery stop. I’ll pick up 6 eggs, crack them into a 16oz. Nalgene bottle, a pound of bacon, 6 bagels and a block (not a container, but a block) of cream cheese (the block lasts longer). I can usually get a couple mornings out of the bagels and cream cheese, but the scrambled eggs I try and save until morning 3. Then I smash on it for a nice hardy breakfast. It’s wonderful.
This is a topic that always fascinates me. I’ve worked with a number of guides throughout the years and always enjoy finding what people bring. I have one gentleman who carries a small stuffed bear his daughter gave him almost 25 years ago, and another guide who carries 5 dice for on the trail Yatzee! Feel free to post what you carry out there, I’d love to hear about them! Happy Trails!