Sometimes roughing it is just what the doctor ordered. Tuck a few efficient possessions in your well-organised pack, grab your walking stick, and make a beeline for the road less travelled.
Though you might need a much-deserved break from lunch meetings or checking notifications on your phone, less isn’t always more. Here are five simple ways to make the wilderness more comfortable – without cheating yourself of all the natural world has to offer:
A Good Night’s Sleep
If you have to carry all your possessions in a pack, what you sleep on can get short shrift. Tents, sleeping bags, and ground pads are often the bulkiest – and heaviest – items a backpacker hauls on the trail.
Whilst there are plenty of ways to pare back or scale down, you might be sacrificing much-needed room in your pack – and weight on your back – for a miserable night on the hard, cold ground.
There’s another way.
Instead of pitching your tent on the ground, aim higher by suspending a lightweight hammock between two trees. Not only do hammocks weigh less than most sleeping bags – and take up less room in your pack – but they’re more comfortable by far than duking it out with the rocky ground.
You can still protect yourself from the elements with a shelter like the Warbonnet Blackbird, too. As far as camping goes, spending the night swinging free in a hammock will feel like the height of luxury.
Nip Cold in the Bud
Tramping around in the wilderness means your clothes are often damp from the elements and a long, hard day on the trail.
For more “adult” hikers, you can always pack a flask with a few nips of something warm. This one from GSI rolls up when empty – plus its rock-bottom price and lightweight materials make it easy to pack.
At the end of a long day on the trail, I’m always itching for some downtime before night falls. Before it’s too dark to appreciate the natural beauty of my campsite, I kick back in my hammock with a good book from a used bookshop and enjoy some solitary reading time.
Some trailheads or camping shelters have spots for hikers to leave behind or trade books – the perfect way to lighten your load as you travel without sacrificing your need to read.
Over the past few months in America, a young writer has even made a splash online by reading and leaving books by people of colour along her route on the Appalachian Trail. You can follow along with her inspiring journey here.
Sure you remembered to pack nuts and dried fruit and a heavy duty water filtration system – but did you plan for your morning and evening tea or coffee break, too?
Tea sachets take up little space and planning for the ritual of a morning and afternoon tea time can help break up the monotony of long backpacking trips – and warm you back up again.
If you have some extra room in your pack, this stainless steel kettle from GSI will feel like the height of luxury while you’re setting up your campsite in the evenings. Even without a fancy trail kettle, you can always use cookware to boil water and enjoy a cuppa in a pinch.
For those who need a stronger caffeine fix, this French press built for the outdoors made Section Hiker’s list of top luxury items backpackers take on holiday. French press coffee on the trail? Mais oui!
Don’t Hide Your Light
Reading next to a crackling fire or hitting the hay once the stars are in the sky have their charms. But if you’re not quite ready to pack it in by 8 PM, it helps to have a trustworthy lantern for navigating a campsite in the dark.
I like the Black Diamond Orbit Lantern, which is both lightweight and has rechargeable batteries.
Sometimes it’s fun to chase the feeling of being a kid again, too – the lights are out, and it’s time for bed, but you just can’t help sitting up reading late into the night. With a lantern, you can always feel like you’re getting away with something.
Most of these items aren’t strictly necessary for enjoying your time out on the trail – although I would argue that a hammock would make the biggest difference in your overall comfort, even on short trips.
If you have the room in your pack, each of these suggestions will bring a touch more glamour to the decidedly unglamourous life of a backpacker. It might not be “glamping,” but your trip can – and should – have at least some of the creature comforts of home.