I know what you are thinking, Crocs are the dorkiest shoes alive. They get a bad rap for breaking every fashion rule in the book, but I don’t care! They are my go-to pair of shoes. No-slip, closed-toe, and so comfortable! They are weightless (backpacking plus), but sturdier and more durable than flip-flops. I wear them in the water, on easy hikes, and around camp. I can even wear SmartWool socks with them, making them four-season shoes. I’m not cool. Whatever.
2. A book
I love to read. Even on long backpacking trips I take a book with me. Reading in nature makes the story more vivid. It gives me more reason to sit forever on a beach or in a sunny field. It passes time at a bus station or in an airport. It eliminates those moments when I have nothing to do and think, darn, now would be a perfect time to read. Since I always bring one, I get more reading done because I feel obligated. Also, I tend to wake up early, so it’s great to have in the tent while I wait for the sun to rise.
4. A Notepad
As a blogger and a writer, sometimes I think of an idea deep in the woods that I want to remember for later at my laptop. Enter my handy dandy notepad. I write lyrics, blog ideas, life ideas, reminders, stories, diary entries, my spending, and so much more.
4. Hiking Boots
I wear hiking boots in cities and on trails. Traveling involves so much walking! Stylish boots don’t cut it. I just bought a new pair and I’m stoked. Before, I had Merrel’s with ankle support, but there’s a new look growing in popularity. I’m trying a pair of Oboz with no ankle support but more shape and agility. Super excited to try them out!
5. Rain Jacket
It’s a windbreaker and a rain stopper all in one. I simply never know when I might need to break it out. It’s always better safe than sorry.
6. Doctor Bronner’s
Soap for everything! Extra concentrated, just a little bit lasts a long time. All natural and biodegradable, it’s good for the earth and skin. Leaves me guilt-free in the back-country. I use it to wash my clothes, body, dishes, gear, kitchen, and more.
7. Head Lamp
A must-have on every backpackers list, but I use one during all my travels. I might need extra light to read a map or search for something in the car. You never know when you might need to navigate in the dark. And sure, smart phones have flashlights now, but that only leaves one hand free. A head-lamp moves wherever your eyes go. It’s like night-vision. (Bring extra batteries!)
Backpackers are laughing at me. Most of them don’t bring pillows because it is extra weight and bulkiness they simply don’t want on the trail. Bundling up clothes in your sleeping bag case works just fine, but personally, I like the extra comfort of a pillow, otherwise I’ll wake up with the worst neck-ache. A good nights sleep is necessary when your days take up so much energy. It comes in handy for spur of the moment sleeps, like in the car or on a friends pillow-less couch. Or someplace a tad sketchy where you might want just your own germs to put your head on. My camping pillow is a Therm-A-Rest Compressible pillow, weighs 15 oz. and rolls up into its built in pouch. Worth it.
9. A Lighter
For obvious reasons. But I always double check to make sure I have at least one in my pocket. Having the ability to start a fire could be life-saving. A lighter gives you hot food in the woods and a warm body on a freezing night. It’s also a conversation starter when people ask me, “You got a lighter?”
My dentist would be so proud. This is a somewhat new must-have. My teeth are sensitive, and it’s so easy to neglect them when traveling. To save my future mouth, floss comes with me. Floss is versatile, too. It’s strong; use it as string to tie or hang things up. An alternative to thread, use it to patch clothes in an emergency.