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When packing for a long distance hike, ounces matter. Personally, I try to strike a balance between being prepared for the unexpected and minimizing my pack weight with only the essentials on my hiking gear list. But, let’s be honest, there are some items that are worth a splurge to have on the trail.
For me, my not-so-essential hiking gear list items have varied depending on the hike. On the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, I carried pouches of vodka and packets of Gatorade so I could enjoy a celebratory drink at the end of the trail. When climbing Volcano Maderas in Nicaragua, I brought my Kindle so I could enjoy a few moments of silence at the summit. And on many trails, I have brought a deck of cards to enjoy with friends at night around the campfire. Each of these choices was worth the extra ounces because they added to my experience.
Out of curiosity, I got to wondering what splurge items other hikers bring with them on long distance hikes. So, I posed this question to the hiking community and here’s what they shared.
What would you be willing to carry in your pack for ten miles or more that’s more of a luxury than a necessity?
Portable Espresso Coffee Maker
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Eloise from My Favourite Escapes.
As I sat daydreaming after lunch atop a mountain Australia, I thought about how all of the effort was completely worth it for the stunning views. I wondered if it can get any better than feeling at the top of the world, surrounded by nature, with a full stomach. That’s when I smelled it. Coffee! My friend handed me a perfect looking espresso. How did he manage that in the middle of nowhere?!
It was the first time I saw a portable espresso coffee maker. Just put ground coffee in the filter, hot water in the chamber, pump and serve. Space and weight are crucial when you’re hiking. And these mini-coffee machines were built with this in mind. Of course, no electricity is required as you pump with your hand to create the pressure. No need to choose anymore between your love for the outdoors and your love for coffee!
I admit it wasn’t the best coffee ever, but it was unquestionably the best coffee for miles and miles around. I always aim to pack only what’s on my essential hiking gear list, but I have realized that a small touch of luxury can go a long way. This portable coffee machine has the power to warm up the body and heart when the hike gets harder.
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Michelle from The Wandering Queen.
When I was planning my Patagonia adventure, I couldn’t resist running through scenarios in which my camera would die during our trek. The W-Circuit trek in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile takes about four to five days to complete. With the constant surrounding beauty I knew I would be powering up my camera every few minutes, which is a guaranteed way to run through the batteries quickly.
Instead of taking the risk of running out of batteries in the middle of the trek, I purchased the Goal Zero Venture 30 Power Bank and Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel Kit. The combination of these two products reduced my fears immensely. The power bank has an impressive amount of battery power, and the solar panel is a great item to have when you are backpacking or trekking for multiple days. I have taken and used both of these items on all of my camping trips.
Efficiency is vital when backpacking. I could have brought extra camera batteries with me on the trail, but how many would be enough? With the solar kit you won’t have anxiety of running out of battery. In my opinion, pictures are essential in my travels, so carrying this as an extra precautionary item is absolutely necessary.
RELATED: A Letter to Experienced Hikers
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Jillian from Adventure Dragon.
On a long distance hike, I always leave room in my backpack for a stuffed animal toy–a little plush kitten who wears a dragon disguise and calls himself Dragon. As the mascot of my blog, he has special meaning to me and goes with me anywhere and everywhere that I travel. Illness often keeps me hospitalized or chained to a hospital bed, so I designed this little guy to be able to travel the world with friends, family, and other bloggers even when I cannot. Because of that, he’s actually been on more hikes than I have, and he’s explored far more of the world than I ever will.
Dragon is a character of my own design, so I crafted the plushie version of him myself. I wanted a travel sidekick that could symbolize my own ambitions and struggles in life, so it was important for him to be small and frail while simultaneously projecting strength and resilience. That’s the reason he wears a disguise. He’s just a little kitten, but he believes he’s a big dragon. He’ll tell you that he can accomplish anything, and there’s nothing in the world that can stop him. His favorite adventures involve long hikes to secret waterfalls, ancient wonders, and fairytale castles. Even if a trail spans longer than ten miles, I will always make room for him in my pack. He was made for adventure!
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Allison from She Dreams of Alpine.
I’m often surprised by the number of people that don’t bring a GPS device or have a GPS app downloaded to their phone for long-distance hikes. It’s one of my absolute favorite hiking gear items to bring on any long-distance hike or backpacking trip because of the data I’m able to collect and the peace-of-mind it brings me knowing my chances of getting lost are lessened.
These devices are pricey though, particularly if you purchase a hand-held GPS device, and there is a bit of a learning curve once you invest in one. However, to me, the pros outweigh the cons. You can track key items like your mileage and your total elevation gain and descent. You can mark specific landmarks and look for opportunities to go off the beaten path. I highly recommend investing in a GPS device to everyone I meet who loves outdoor hiking and backpacking, and even better if you invest in a GPS device that has satellite messaging for emergency response and rescue in case anything goes wrong on the trail.
UE Boom Waterproof Loudspeaker
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Sarah from Fernweh Sarah.
When you travel or hike, it’s nice to stick to the essentials. But there is one item that we carried around for nine months on our world trip and that we will take on every other journey in the future, including long distance hikes: The UE Boom 3!
The UE Boom 3 is a powerful Bluetooth speaker that seamlessly connects to your smartphone. Given its small size, the audio quality is absolutely awesome! But, what really makes it better than others is that it’s super waterproof! It is IPX7 certified – meaning that it’s waterproof up to 1m for 30 minutes. So, you can actually take this loudspeaker to the pool, or the beach.
And believe us, we heavily tested this out! Our UE Boom has already been swimming in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Atlantic (especially the Carribean) – and in numerous cenotes in Mexico! And I do mean swimming, because the UE Boom 3 and the older Wonderboom are both actually swimming on the surface! You can literally just throw it into the ocean and it will float to the surface!
When we visited Star Fish Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama, there were just five items we took with us: towels, smartphone, bathing suits, a bottle of rum and… the UE Boom. We also took it on a hike in Peru. When we got stuck in torrential rain, we were so happy that we didn’t have to worry about our electronics. Plus, bad weather is much better with music!
Comparing the Audio quality, the new UE Boom 3 is superior to the Wonderboom. But, if you are on a tight budget, the Wonderboom is a perfect solution! (Please note that the older UE Boom 2 is waterproof but does not swim!) If you are interested in more of the items we took on our trip around the world, I also wrote a blog post about perfect gifts for world travelers!
NOTE: Please be mindful of other hikers when using speakers on the trail or at the campsite.
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Danielle from Wanderlust While Working.
With my newly discovered interest in photography, I recently ended up buying a new Sony a6000 mirrorless camera. It has now become my favorite item on my not-so-essential hiking gear list. The camera adds some additional weight and takes up more space compared to using my phone to take pictures, but I can’t help but want to experiment with my Sony along the trail, especially with wide angle shots and panoramas!
I even got a new camera bag with a rain cover just to protect it from the elements on long hikes.The bag certainly can double for holding snacks and water, but its main purpose is to hold my new favorite toy (and most likely additional lenses and accessories in the future). Even though it’s an expensive item to take somewhat unprotected into the woods, I think it has certainly paid off with some of the incredible shots I’ve been able to get of mountaintops and waterfalls. Some of my favorite places to hike are in Hawaii and the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York!
From the not-so-essential hiking gear list of Bonnie from 43 Blue Doors.
We were planning to hike the Santa Cruz trail just outside of Huaraz, Peru. This trail is a 50-kilometer long circuit that cuts through the towering snow-capped Cordillera Blanca mountains located in the Andes. The ascent tops out at 4,750 meters (15,600 feet) as it crosses the Punta Union pass.
We knew that we would need extra warm sleeping bags and a good tent that could withstand the rain. Rain was predicted and it would make the nights even colder. On top of the extra warm gear we knew we would be struggling with elevation. As if this wasn’t enough, I was also recovering from a knee surgery.
We decided to splurge on a luxury item for our hiking gear list: a donkey to carry all the gear. The best part is that the donkey also came with a cook. We had only to hike and carry a small day pack.
During the day we hiked by ourselves and met up at the campsites in the evening where the donkeys stopped. It was wonderful. I might just think about getting a donkey for my backyard if I ever have a backyard again.
What not-so-essential items are on your hiking gear list?
I’d love to hear what’s on your luxury item list for long-distance hikes! Drop a comment below or send me a message. If you’ve got all the gear you need (is this even possible?), these not-so-essential hiking gear items make the perfect gift for any hiker or outdoor adventurer.