A Twist on the Classic Ten Essentials

It's exhausting work carrying a backpack full of gear up a mountain.  In between heavy breaths and wiping away sweat I always wonder, "Could I have packed more efficiently?" Or, "Am I carrying something that's not a necessity?"

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Summer backpacking in the Wallowas, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon

The answer is always, yes, I am definitely porting things that are considered nonessential. We've actually coined a phrase for these items, 'the nonessential essentials.' 

Backpacking through the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon. Summer 2017

In addition to the 'Classic Ten Essentials', here is a list of items (some practical, some impractical) we pack that makes each backcountry experience enjoyable, delicious and sometimes even a little luxurious. 

1. Travel Coffee Kit- If you haven't read my previous post on the travel coffee kit, now would be the time to do it! All good mornings start with a great cup of coffee, and this post outlines the the items we use to make it happen.

2. Nut Butter-  Peanut Butter has been the staple of backpacking trips for a long time. Nowadays, there are more options than Jif and Skippy to choose from. Yum Butter's heavenly almond butter comes in a squeezable go anywhere pouch and includes chia, hemp seed and goji berries. I like it combined with oatmeal or bananas but frequently eat it right out of the pouch.
**Bonus: Every time you buy one jar or pouch of Yumbutter, you help feed a child with malnutrition. Read more about their work with Buy One| Feed One here

Yum Butter Superfood almond butter comes in a squeezable pouch and includes chia, hemp seeds and goji berries.

3. Hammock- Where there are trees, there is the potential to hammock! Kick off the hiking boots and settle in for a solid afternoon nap. 

ENO hammocks provide an ultimate chillax experience.

4. Skin Care Solutions- Being outdoors is harsh on the skin.   At the end of the day, my skin is a toxic mix of sunscreen, sweat, and dirt.  Before going to bed I reach for Ursa Major's face wipes that help clean, exfoliate and hydrate.  Extra points for the refreshing aroma of orange, fir and lavender.

5. Hot Sauce- I don't know anyone who is enthusiastic about eating dehydrated food. But dehydrated food jazzed up with hot sauce? Instantly more enticing.  We bring a small bottle of Maria Sharp's hot sauce to drizzle on our dinner meals.  Good to go is elevating my camp meals to a new delicious level with flavors like vegetable korma and pad thai.  

Good to go food has delicious flavors and makes camp meals actually enjoyable! 

6. Sandals-  Teva universal premier sandals are perfect to slip sore and tired feet into once camp has been set up. They are water ready, quick drying, and has a contoured footbed that keeps arches happy. Mine have walked hundreds of miles since I purchased them and are still holding strong. 

7. MPowered Lights- Headlamps are an obvious pack choice, but how about including these inflatable solar lights instead? With the goal of making an affordable clean energy product, MPowered has developed a lightweight, durable and waterproof light called Outdoor 2.0. An adjustable strap allows it to clip to a backpack and charge it while hiking. It's ready to light up the campsite by nightfall. 

Light up your campsite using MPowered solar lights.

8. Games- There is beauty in solitude and a lack of 'things to do' while camping, but games are a great way to pass the hours and engage with other campers.  I could spend hours beating Jared at Monopoly cards! 

9. IPA- A post-hike beer is a delicious rewards worth working for.  Packing in beers works best if they can be chilled in a lake or river and served ice cold. Remember "Leave No Trace" principals and pack out what you pack in. 

A cold beer is well deserved after a long day of hiking. Chill in a lake or river until dinner time.

10. Book & Journal- Ran out of things to say to a trail buddy? Need silence? I've found being outdoors with zero distractions is an ideal time to reconnect with myself through journaling. Zoning out with a good book in the hammock is also a great way to get some quiet time.

Do you have a few 'nonessential essentials' that you pack on backpacking trips? Share your items with me in the comments below!