Luxury Backpacking Supplies to Bring
By Steve Gillman
Why am I writing about luxury backpacking supplies on a site
that is all about keeping that pack weight down? Two reasons.
First, there are some items that can add a lot of comfort and
pleasure to a trip without adding much to your pack weight. Second,
I go light not to prove anything, but to enjoy myself more, and
reducing the weight of other items allows us to add back a little
weight in luxuries.
Recently (summer 2009) I was exploring some mountains here
in Colorado on an overnight trip. My total pack weight was under
twelve pounds (and under ten pounds once the food was eaten).
But even at that light weight I still had two "luxuries"
with me. One was a GoLite "Nest," a screen tent to
pitch under my tarp. With mosquitoes out that night I really
appreciated that. I usually just sleep on a piece of plastic
under my tarp, but this weighs only 17 ounces and worked well.
Also, because I stayed many hours in the tent to avoid the
bugs, I really enjoyed having my MP3 player along. It is something
I never brought before, but it only weighs about an ounce or
two. I listened to hours of audio books and seminars before going
to sleep. If you bring an MP3 player, be sure to load a lot of
music or books and bring an extra battery.
Another really light item that can add a lot of comfort to
t trip is a piece of closed-cell foam sleeping pad cut to about
12 by 16 inches. Mine weighs around an ounce, and fits in the
pack nicely for extra padding against my back. What it's really
good for, though, is to provide a cushioned and dry place to
sit so you don't have to sit directly on cold rocks or wet tree
Heavier Backpacking Supplies
You don't have to limit your comfort and pleasure and fun
items to ultra-light items. In fact, after that last trip I finally
bought a fifteen-ounce two-inch-thick Big Agnes sleeping pad
to replace the four-ounce foam pad I normally use. I need to
sleep better next time, and I think I can afford the extra eleven
Think of it this way: If you can comfortably carry 17 pounds
in your frame-less ultralight backpack, and you cut the total
pack weight down to 12 pounds for a weekend trip, you can add
back up to five pounds of luxuries and still be going relatively
light. That's leaves a lot of options open. here are some luxury
backpacking supplies you might consider:
Coffee maker (press type)
Bag of wine (bottles break)
Folding chair (the frame-less kind)
DVD player and couple movies
A full sized towel
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Hand-held video game
Kite and string
Small laptop (one of the 3-pound ones)
Now I know that some who read this will say that many of these
items have nothing to do with backpacking and detract from the
experience. After all, we have all probably seen teenagers hiking
past ignoring every bit of nature as they listen to their music.
But a movie would be nice if you have to wait out a blizzard
in a tent, and there is nothing wrong with a comfortable seat
or cup of wine. In any case, isn't it presumptuous to think we
know what other people's backpacking experiences should consist
My own luxury backpacking supplies include a three-ounce chess
board and pieces that I sometimes bring, and occasionally some
heavy plant identification books. Okay, I am still mostly a minimalist.
But I might bring an Amazon Kindle with me once I buy one. A
whole library of hundreds of books for less than twelve ounces!
Not a typical item on my list of backpacking supplies, but it
sure would be nice on long rainy days under the tarp.