Things that Haven't Worked--
Or things you can leave behind
The Sierra Club Stainless Steel Hiking Cup. Yes, we know this is blasphemy, and that John Muir will strike us dead from above, but these cups are just plain ridiculous. They are the badge of every dyed in the wool Sierra Club member---but I can’t help wondering how many of them actually get out on the trail. They are impossible to use with hot beverages, because they burn your lips. They ping against anything they touch, whether hanging from your pack or on your hip belt. They are heavy compared to any suitable plastic mug. And they are indestructible, so you never have an excuse to toss them out for something more functional. If you still pack with a wood-frame pack, wool blanket bedroll, and an overcoat; by all means take one of these along. Otherwise, take advantage of modern technology and get a good plastic cup that is more functional in every way.
Cotton Shorts—they weigh a ton, don’t dry in the sunlight, and are now left at home.
Our special backpacking towel—yeah, it’s lightweight. But it doesn’t weigh much less than the 2x4 foot Big Bird beach towel we bought for our daughter when she was three. And that one absorbs much better, dries faster, and makes us smile every time we look at it.
Heavy fishing rod tube—replaced with a tube made from a fluorescent light bulb tube that weighs a LOT less than this PVC pipe. P saved a pound out of his pack this way.
Heavy aluminum or plastic (Nalgene) water bottles--which we have replaced with much lighter soda pop bottles, and now with our new platypus folding water bottles. They are lightweight, easy to use, and collapse as they get empty so that they're easier to fit into packs, pockets, etc.
Compass watch—because you can’t really take a solid reading on it. P now carries a real compass, and can check it as often as he wants…and lay it right on the map to get the perfect bearing.
Self-inflating sleeping pads—they weigh a lot more, and they leak. And we are tired of fixing them. Ugh. And the old-style blow-up mattresses are even worse. We now have a couple of Neo-Air mattresses that are magic...but they cost over $125 apiece...and we lived in dread of the day they began to leak. But when they did, NeoAir replaced them with newer pads, for free. Gotta love that kind of service!
Baseball caps--OK fine, they have a bill, and that keeps the sun off your face. But we like to protect our neck, ears and the rest of our head. So we wear wide-brimmed hats.
Expensive water bottles--well these work too, but why would you spend money on these, when cheap plastic soda bottles do just as well, and weight less. Plus, you're keeping them out of a landfill.
A Multi-tool--because a sewing kit will fix just about everything in your pack, including your pack. And you don't need the extra weight of a screwdriver (what screws do you have?) pliers, or a wrench.
Firearms--yeah, we know this is controversial. Let's just say that if you don't carry a firearm in your daily life in the city, you sure don't need one in the mountains.
Bowie Knife--when you run into the bear, you can run faster without this. Just kidding. But really, the only thing we use a knife for is cuttting salami and cheese for our lunches. A tiny blade works great, and weighs a lot less. Then again, we don't fight bears hand to hand, build a shelter out of a log (why ruin the log?) or whittle for fun and profit.
For more on knives, read this blog post:
And for more thoughts on what you can leave at home, read this blog post: