Open main menu

Extra baggage

To start a new, lighter discussion I ask you all what you bring with you that has no essential use other than the joy it brings.  Items such as musical instruments, science projects, books, art, toys etc.

I always carry a monocular, a magnifying glass, a tape measure, a thermometer and a waterproof notebook and pen.  The total weight of it all, 7.3 ounces, nearly a half pound but I wouldn't want to go without it.

My list includes a waterproof notebook and pencil, and a thermometer. For trips over 4 nights or more I add a book...never seem to read it on shorter trips.

Just off of a family trip I'm tempted to say my six year old :p She doesn't have a lot of function on trail other than bringing joy!

On solo trips my biggest luxury in terms of "needless" weight would be my camp pants. Heavy fleece loungewear that help me dry out when sweaty and stay warm when cold so they have some function, but pack way too heavy and large to justify on that account. I carry them because they make me feel good after humping a pack all day and of course the red and black plaid is so stylish in the woods.

I have also invested in a small refrigerator thermometer with a large digital display. Reading those tiny bulb thermometers was just getting too hard.

My thermometer is an old glass one in a metal case - tried those key ring ones but they just aren't accurate enough for my "scientific" measurements of temps...sometimes comparing inside and outside the tent/sleeping bag or sun vs shade.  Keeps me amused!

Curtis - what is the tape measure for?  My first assumption is fish measurement but I didn't see fishing gear on your list.  Measuring plants for ID or accurate measurement of the height of any bears you come across?

A field guide to local wildflowers and other plants. Botanizing brings me great joy.

kindle or a paperback. 

Notebook to write a play, plant id book, chess set, harmonica, and certain books that require contemplation. 

I like to do spontaneous charcoal sketches, so I often carry a small kit for that.

I'm also apparently trying to set the world's record for the slowest-ever active learning of a musical instrument; I've been teaching myself the harmonica for about the last 4 years, and so I like to bring a harp out on trips and see if I can't make the wolves howl.

Tape measures are great fun.  Animal tracks, the distance between tracks, measure bugs and leaves and even dung.  With a long tape and a stopwatch I can measure stream flow in miles per hour.  The reason I don't carry my fishing gear is that I would never cover any distlance at all. I could spend all day with rod in hand.

What do you call the portion of a pizza you can't eat in a single meal?  Excess.

What then is the second pizza?  Surplus.

We will have some consensus regarding certain items as extra baggage, but semantics will come into play with a great many things we haul.  If we use the legendary claim that John Muir used to hop over the back fence and take off for days with just some stuff in a coat pocket, well then we all are driven to excess.  I don't bring technology, yet others I am sure consider it essential.  "Extra" probably includes a large gray area for consideration.

Some may allege my walking staff is useless, extra baggage, but it doubles as the spar for my pyramid tarp;)  I always have a pocket digital camera nowadays. I will frequently bring a monocular, books, a flute or harmonica.  On short weekenders I may rig my bear canister up with a blue foam cozy, and stock it with frozen and fresh food, chilled with dry ice. 

And then there are items that are nonessential, albeit useful. I bring a 3 gallon collapsible bulk storage water container - it minimizes the wear and tear on the often fragile flora along the water fetching route.   I bring a day pack for summit hikes and zero day strolls.  I bring a kitchen rain fly and cord to rig it.  I try to improve on boil bag eating, so I bring a simmering stove, pots, spatula and other kitchen wares minimalists would laugh at.  I bring rope for a bear hang, even though I use a bear canister; I hate mixing trash with my groceries.  I bring good chocolate, excellent whiskey, sometimes wine, and certain other camp fire delectables.  Are duct tape, bailing wire, back up light, spare batteries and similar rarely used items considered extra baggage?  Is a climbing rack and rope extra baggage?  Is a sleeping mat extra baggage? (One can always improvise something to sleep on with whatever else they packed.)  It's a big gray area to consider.    

My age is causing me to leave more and more nonessentials home.  Used to bring a single serve espresso maker.  Or a large format camera on occasion.  On very special occasions in my youth we have hauled very bulky items, requiring multiple trips to camp to make the full delivery: coolers, beer kegs, an area rug, wood to roast prime rib, baked potatoes and other feast style meals.  (And we haul it all back out leaving nary a trace in our wake.)

I like to camp comfy.  Spent too much time Spartan camping on serious ventures to enjoy eating mush or sleeping damp in my clothes with a rope coil for a sleeping mat.  My short hike back packs always end up weighing around sixty pounds; more if I am dry camping.  I take some comfort items out of my kit for extended hikes, but even those packs end up weighing around 70 pounds.  There is nothing like fresh oranges on day 8 of a thru hike.  Some of my base camp packs can still tip the scales at 90+ pounds, mostly due to fresh foods.  Definitely optional, but what luxury!  Since minimalist packs for similar jaunts will weigh about 30 to 45 pounds, I carry quite a bit of extra baggage.  I am getting old but my back still works and my packs all fit well.



Mr Evans asked what you carried that actually brought you "JOY". I guess many of those items you mentioned do. But a spatula come on man?


I don't know 'bout the ya'll but I had spatula envy for a moment.  I loved that list of stuff you did and do bring.  Anyhow who's foolish enough to poke fun at a man who can haul a 90 pound pack?  I was fussing about 7 ounces of excess. 

John Starnes said:


Mr Evans asked what you carried that actually brought you "JOY". I guess many of those items you mentioned do. But a spatula come on man?

Hey don't be bagging on my lucky spatula!  Good eating does provide joy to many on the trail. What's for dinner often becomes a central topic of interest.  It gives me joy to cook good food for others.  And a spatula makes omelets and pancakes easy work. 

I did list stuff that provides no joy as such, other than to reduce misery, like a kitchen rain fly, sewing kit, duct tape and other contingency items.  So I guess I strayed off topic.  I did have a fellow camper wryly comment that duct tape can be a source of joy - it compelled me to sleep with one eye open whenever he was around...  Joy evidently is open for interpretation.

But your comment had me wondering, is DEET an item that brings joy, and is it optional?  I suspect some think my harmonica is a killjoy implement.  Alas one man's pleasure is another's motive for homicide.


laughing ,head shaking

Foresters make lots of measurements. Each of my first couple of finger joints are an inch. My out streched hand is 7 1/2 inches from thumb to little finger.  Elbow to middle finger is a cubit. Stride is almost exactly 3 feet, etc. No need to carry a tape. DBH is right under my sternum. 


I carry my Kindle and Fujifilm X-A3. Reading relax me after long hiking days, and photos make great visual memories, iphone pictures aren't so magic and atmospheric.

I always carry portable speakers. Can't enjoy backcountry without loud music! 


I usually carry a flask of whiskey.

October 28, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply