Things You Think Are A Great Idea But Are Really NOT!
We have all walked into the camping section at REI, Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc. and became overwhelmed at the number of items they have there! I will admit, some of it seems pretty neat, until you really think about it. Some things are obviously useless, while others just don’t work the way they are supposed to. But never fear! I have compiled a list of these useless (or maybe less useful) items that you can really save your money and precious weight in your pack on.
A pillow/inflatable pillow – Before you immediately stop reading this post, hear me out. A pillow, even an inflatable one (which in and of itself seems uncomfortable), takes up room and weight. However, what other soft, cloth-like item are you carrying anyway? YOUR CLOTHES! I simply take my extra clothes and put them in a stuff sack and voila, a pillow! No extra items to waste space, weight, and money.
Lots of dishes – This is a little vague, but you really would be surprised at how versatile your dishes are. We typically carry just one pot (sometimes two pots, but they nest in each other, not taking up additional space), one plate (with sides so it could be a bowl too), two sporks, and two collapsible cups. That’s it. That’s it? Yeah, and only one plate because one of us eats directly out of the pot that we made the food in.
Camp Towels – We fell for this one. You basically get one use out of it before it’s just a useless wet pile of cloth that you have to carry around. They don’t dry as quickly as you are led to believe, unless you just lay it in the sun. In that case, you can lay any of your clothes in the sun…
Freeze Dried Meals – Not only do these actually take up a lot of space and are a weird shape, but they are pretty gross.
Any type of homemade fire starter found on Pinterest… Now, I’m not dogging on Pinterest. We all know I’m a huge fan. But, most of these “Quick Homemade Fire Starter” posts are worthless. Trust us, we have actually tried a LOT of them. None so far have worked.
Marshmallow/Hot Dog Roasting forks – Use a stick, you are in the backwoods. What is a little more dirt going to hurt? These are a really great way to tear your gear.
Those stupid stackable wine glasses – where are you camping, Beverly Hills? Use a regular cup for whatever drink you are drinking.
Full on repair kit for everything that could POSSIBLY go wrong. Some repair kits are just ridiculous. If duct tape and a few other repair items (super glue, paracord, etc) can’t fix it, you have done something seriously wrong. You probably aren’t going to actually sew your pants back together in the backwoods. Keep it simple and you’ll be fine. CHECK your gear after EVERY trip and you’ll be fine.
Anything in a can. This not only takes up a lot of room, it is also heavy. It’s even heavy and takes up a lot of room when it’s empty, which is really annoying.
Lots of spices. We tend to stick to pre-seasoned everything and only carry a small thing of salt/pepper, if we remember it.
Full on GPS unit – DISCLAIMER – If you are planning on going somewhere that is off of a trail and is not well known, you may need a full GPS unit. HOWEVER, this post is more for beginners, and I DO NOT recommend beginners going for backpacking trips that are not along a well-marked trail.
So, that being said, if it makes you feel more comfortable, by all means, do it. I prefer a map and a compass, as I don’t like relying on technology. Additionally, I ALWAYS give my location, route, and timeframe to someone (our moms!) before I leave, and give them info for the closest ranger station.
Radio/Earphones/iPod – you are in nature, ENJOY those sounds. Okay, to each his own, but seriously, don’t be one of those people on the trail who blasts their music while they are hiking. It’s really inconsiderate to those of us who want to enjoy nature and perhaps see some wildlife! I don’t need Kanye scaring off the moose!
Camp Soap sheets – Liquid camp soap works really well, but those little sheets are worthless. They all stick together and then when you get them wet, they don’t actually lather, they just form a wet clump in your hand that doesn’t wash off. Gross.
Lots of Toiletries in general – Ladies, I know some of you might think you need to bring your whole bathroom, but really you are camping. There are some necessities and those vary depending on the length of your trip. But overall, you don’t need much.
In the end…
So that about sums up the things that we think are a total waste of space. Truly, backpacking should come down to what makes you happy and gives you the best experience on the trail. I hope this series has taught you something or got you thinking about what YOU would want to pack on a backpacking trip! Let us know in the comments what your favorite thing to take hiking is or what items you have found to be completely useless on the trail.
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