5 luxuries we don’t need to take hiking (but do…sometimes)

The temptation is always there.

Will I take it, won’t I take it?

Will I pack that special piece of gear or treat that the voice in my head tells me to stash in my pack?

It doesn’t weigh much or take up any space encourages “the voice”

Are these the  words you hear resonating around your head as you decide what to take on a trip,  but  you know it is unnecessary?

Hiking lady

Keeping your pack weight down when you are hiking or bushwalking is always a challenge.  That  “must have” gadget from Mountain Designs (or REI)  and a tipple for the evenings are always very tempting to take on a trip.

So what’s our list of 5 things we sometimes take backpacking that we don’t REALLY need?

  1. Alcohol such as wine, port or spirits – we sometimes take a nip or two in a plastic bottle for “emergencies”
  2. A book to read: both of us love reading.  We always take a novel chosen on it’s size and weight,  more than it’s literery value
  3. Cigar: Frank likes to relax in the evening with a hit of nicotine from a large cigar.  Bad for his body? YES, Good for his soul? YES
  4. Pillow Case: Just a small one from an old couch cushion.  It works well and gives you something to shove a few soft items in to create a pillow.
  5. Coffee plunger – we don’t take this too often, but on short trips, freshly brewed coffee is great!

What luxuries do you take on a long trip?

Do you take a “must have”  item that is not really necessary?

Are you a gear junkie and can’t leave home without the kitchen sink?

We would love to hear your story. Please leave a comment below telling us about your “must have ” (but unnecessary) piece of gear or “food”


  1. Steve Cockburn says

    Having just returned ( very much worse for wear ) from doing the Teviot Gap to Spicer’s Gap 30 km off track trip along the Main Range SE Qld( trip report to come when I recover ), I can add to this worthy issue . Whilst my pack was on the heavy side 19.5kg, I did a post trip packing evaluation and a few things were on the possible to leave home next time. These are :
    1. My thermarest seat. – Still think I’ll take this but use the 3/4 rather than the full length,
    2. A very small Radio- AM/FM type- Will still take.
    3. Small flask of port – Leave out next time.
    4. A spare mini light. Not needed .
    5. Initially I thought I took too much staminade and sustigen but as it turned out , I needed every gram of both to keep me going on the ups and downs – 14 > 1000mts.
    6.Too many nibbles – need to cut back on these .
    7.Down Jacket – would still take this.
    8. I took a light weight tarp /poncho . I still think I will take this in future as a back up . On this trip I only took this as my rain protection but soon realized that all the walking was off track and through very think scunge and all sorts of sharp hurting things. If I had the poncho /tarp on it would have been shredded- lucky no rain.
    9. Instant Cappuccino sachets. 2 per day should be reduced to 1 per day.
    That’s about it . Seems a bit boring but when trying to cut weight
    I think that this will do . Seems a bit boring but I am trying to reduce weight.
    Regards Steve

  2. Georgie says

    I nominate my husband as the luxury I would rather not leave home without, because he carried my pack up Marion’s and pitched the tent (which I don’t enjoy doing) every night while I chatted and compared notes with all and sundry.
    Group of 4 girls on the track same time as us took copious quantities of port in plastic bottles. They had a great time with it each night, which guaranteed them a good sleep, but kept others awake with their tiddly snoring.
    I can picture Frank with his cigar.

  3. Rachael says

    I concur with the list (perhaps with the exception of the cigar). The luxuries are what it’s all about! Here’s my list:

    1. A book. Although sometimes a copy of “The Big Issue” or a lightweight magazine also does the trick.
    2. Alcohol. Usually a nip or two of spirits in a plastic bottle, but if I’m feeling exceptionally extravagant (and only hiking overnight), I’ll sometimes take a bottle of wine. Although people have scoffed at this, I’ve never once regretted this decision.
    3. A frisbee is great – it’s lightweight and good to throw about in open spaces at the end of the day.
    4. Dessert. Particularly on multi-day hikes – I love to pull together a dessert after dinner – it makes that time you spend lingering under the stars so much more enjoyable.
    5. A deck of cards. This is great if you get rained in and you’ve finished your book!

    They’re all entirely luxuries and life wouldn’t end if I didn’t take them, but having them definitely make the whole hiking experience that bit richer.


  4. Greg says

    I can’t agree with Steve. My guilty luxury is the Thermarest seat. Minimal extra weight really (you’re taking the pad anyway) and at the end of day, you feel like a king being able to stretch your weary muscles out and lean back in indulgent comfort whilst eating your meal/reading/having a cuppa.
    (ps thanks for the prize!)

  5. Brendan says

    A travel pillow! And no, not even one of those inflatable ones (can’t stand them), it’s a kathmandu compressible one. Every time I regret packing it at the start (it always seems to fit in, just), and then by the end of a trip I’m pleased with myself because I’ve had comfortable nights sleeping.
    One thing I used to take for a while was a tripod chair. Completely excellent on a wet trip for keeping a dry bum, but waaay too heavy.

  6. Frank says

    Wow, you lot of luxury carriers you!

    @Steve – great review of your gear, it is always worth looking over stuff when you get home and updating your list for next time. Looking forward to your trip report (when you recover)
    Nothing wrong with trying to drop some weight off your back.

    @Georgie – boy, you would not last long around me….. first thing is get up tent! (then we can BOTH go and chat to people) Now tiddly port snoring – it’s bad enough in the huts on the Overland track with out this new condition….

    btw, at the bottom of this page is evidence of me enjoying a very large cigar on my 50th birthday – if you click on the pic it enlarges…. http://ourhikingblog.com.au/2007/02/day-four-kia-ora-hut-to-windy-ridge-hut.html

    @Rachael – great list thanks! We have taken most of the things you mention at different times – this trip into the Walls of Jerusalum was OTT – http://ourhikingblog.com.au/2007/11/walls-of-jerusalem-sunny-lazy-days-in.html (I think there were 4 litres of wine carried….)

    @Rich – gotta love that extra bit of padding!

    @Greg – Clare (our daughter) takes something like that and loves it. Don’t think they weigh tooooo much!

    @Brendan – Sue has about 3 different pillows, she really likes the soft one (non inflatable)

    We take a bit of “scrap” blue foam mat as a seat for wet spots….Works well and can be used as a clean “table”

    We were talking about this post last night on our evening stroll. Sue came up with a post idea about what book you read on certain trips (and whether you would recommend it to others). Look out for it soon.

    • Georgie says

      Yep, ‘first thing is get up tent’ must be a ‘boy’ thing, some primeval hunter-gatherer urge, as I noticed most of the blokes did it as soon as they got to the huts, often with great urgency, even before a cuppa or snack. I thought it a strange ritual, especially as it didn’t get dark until late. Much better to chat then pitch. G

  7. Joanne says

    My own luxuries as follows, although they have become “must haves”…

    1) An inflatable pillow – I wrap it up in my jumper at night with the jumper sleeves then wrapped underneath my sleeping mat – it stays in place, is warm and fuzzy, and makes such a difference to my nights sleep.

    2) Camp shoes – depending on the terrain, usually teva sandals, occasionally thongs if I’m walking somewhere like Fraser Island. So nice to air my feet at night and good as emergency footwear if something goes really wrong with my walking shoes.

    3) A book. I neglected to take one on a section of my last hike, and regretted it!

    • Frank says

      Hi Joanne,
      Great list. I usually take thongs, even in winter. They work well around camp and are really light.
      A book? Never leave home without one!

  8. spf says

    – A too big/too fragile/too expensive camera… I miss it wheneve ri leave it at home

    – lot’s (oo much) of food. I’m 5.9feet/120 lbs… and I hate having nothing to eat at the end of the day… and hate having to spend 1 hour in shops to find food.

    – geek’s stuff (iphone, netbook, spare batteries and chargers)

    – a (too) big/heavy knife… just in case…

    – spare clothes : after 2 uninterrupted days of rains you really enjoy your dry clothes.

    I prefer cycling than walking so weight is less an issue… but still a problem.

    • Frank says

      Welcome spf,
      Reckon you are lucky to be on a bike carrying all that stuff! Where do you normally travel? Do you get out for long?

  9. spf says

    I mostly cycle in Europe, between 2 weeks and 1 month each time.

    So yes buying food every 3/4 days is quite boring, I can’t imagine doing this evey day… so we usually pack something like 15 kg of food (for 2) when leaving the supermarket.

    For the clothes, in Europe in the same week you can have 5°C during one night and 35°C in a sunny afternoon… same for the rain : 5 beautiful days then 3 days of almost ininterrupted rain. So you have to be prepared.

    Another thing I forgot in my first post is “books”… it’s hard to find books in your language (when you are not english) in other countries… next trip we’ll carry a kindle !

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