Some people may disagree and simply not believe it, but backpacking is supposed to be FUN! Yes you are giving up modern day urban conveniences for outhouses/bush lavatories and the opportunity to bathe in your own musk for days. But you are also gaining the opportunity to bond with your friends around a campfire and sleep under the stars amidst profound natural beauty, knowing that few people are willing enough to have experienced the same thing. That special feeling of knowing that your relentless will is the sole reason of you being there is unique and should be cherished. To add to the uniqueness of the situation and perhaps the comfort level, I have a few luxuries that I ALWAYS bring with me on trips. I call them luxuries because they are not essential survival items. Although my pack would be lighter without them, the laughs and moments between friends produced from these items are well worth the effort. With these items you can easily turn your camping into glamping!
1. A Glass Of Wine And You’ll Be Fine
If you were having a girls weekend in the city there’d be wine, so why not have wine on the girls weekend in the backcountry?! There’s something sublime about enjoying a glass of wine with your girls after just having hiked to some of the most secluded and most beautiful places on earth. The problem is wine bottles are heavy, no one wants to carry that hunk of glass there and back. Fortunately, some genius at Platypus has created the Platypreserve Wine Preserving System; a reusable collapsable plastic carrier that holds the same volume of one bottle. It’s unique design reduces the exposure to oxygen thus preserving it days after opening the bottle. If you are travelling in larger groups (6 or more) and for multiple days, consider buying a cardboardeaux (box of wine) and ditching the box. A box of wine usually contains ~5 bottles equivalent of wine and already comes in a bag for backpacking convenience! Just be sure to double bag it for security against bursts (hasn’t happened to me yet!). **TIP: Leave the wine glasses at home, your sippy cup will do the trick.
2. Banana Grams, Cards Will Just Seem Bananas
After all the belly’s have been filled and people’s bodies are finally starting to relax, it’s time to get a game going. Put on the kettle, brew up some tea or hot chocolate and bring out the Banana Grams! Cards are great, and versatile, but sometimes you just need something a bit more exhilarating and aggressive. Banana Grams is my favourite backpacking game for those exact reasons. It’s like scrabble however each player is trying to arrange their tiles to form words and connect them to each other faster then the other players. Because there is an element of speed, you can imagine how things can become aggressive amongst a competitive group. The game accommodates up to 7 people and is all self contained in a cute banana carrying pouch which doesn’t weight much more then a deck of cards. Banana grams is sold in most toy/game stores, some outdoors stores or you can buy it directly online here.
3. Espresso Your Love For Backpacking
With enough coffee anything is possible. Whether your blood type is coffee or you simply enjoy a cup now and then, a good cup of coffee is enough incentive to crawl out of the tent on a crisp morning. The keyword being GOOD. I’d always had a tumultuous relationship with instant coffee. But that relationship hit an all time low on the West Coast Trail, when I found myself mixing one part Nescafe and one part Kahlua and shooting it back to avoid the contact time between taste buds and said vile substance. From that trip on I vowed to only drink good cups of coffee, even if that meant investing in some mountain cooking hardware. Meet the GSI Stainless Steel Espresso maker. Sipping Americanos (espresso and hot water) made from espresso from this is like sipping on heaven, it’s priceless. To use the espresso maker you just need to pack some espresso ground beans. The espresso maker sits on most standard camp stoves and within 5 minutes will pour you a smooth shot of espresso.
4. Book Worms Pack Your Kobo, Kindle, e-Reader
You’re probably thinking why would you go into the backcountry to get away from it all and bring one of the latest personal gadgets? Well truth be told, an e-reader is very backpacker friendly for shorter trips! It’s lighter then most books, it holds multiple books, and now most come with backlighting for easy reading in the dark. Understanding that it’s limited by it’s battery life, for a book worm that whips through a book in a couple days, an e-reader is a good alternative to bringing multiple books on a trip.
5. A Scarf – A Functional Accessory
I love scarves, they are stylish AND keep me super warm. If something is going to keep me warmer when the sun goes down I’m all for it, and if it keeps a girl looking cute at the same time even better! Something I’ve learned over the years is that once a chill sets in, it’s hard to chase it away. Scarfs have been a saving grace for those late nights sitting out by the fire and those extra chilly nights in shoulder season. I personally prefer triangle scarfs because they can be worn several different ways and can also act as a headband if necessary. The more functions the better!
Over the years of learning whats worth packing and what’s not, these items have survived the cuts! Without a doubt, they are always found in my pack for multi day hikes. I just know the added entertainment and comfort is well worth the extra weight, and when travelling in a larger group the weight can be distributed. You can take the girl out of the city but you don’t have to take the city out of the girl, I’m here to enforce that you can have bits of both! Happy glamping!