Backpacking Accessories: Think ‘How’ and ‘Why’ Before ‘What’

When you are planning a backpacking trip, you want to concentrate on weight, function and duration: How much can you comfortably carry for a day? What items can be used for more than one purpose? How long are you going to need items? Once you firmly grasp those three basic concepts, the actual items you’ll need practically pack themselves.


Your mess kit and pans should be sturdy but as lightweight as you can find. If you will use them time and again, buy well-made and very durable, lightweight cookware.

Food isn’t an accessory, but in what you store your food can be: Once the contained food is consumed, what will you do with the container, whatever it is? Can you use it for another purpose? For instance, resealable bags can keep dirty clothes from clean clothes. They can keep dry socks dry. They can keep your damp toothbrush from dripping all over your last clean t-shirt. Resealable plastic bags can even hold an extra cup of water.

Plastic over paper, aluminium over steel, and cotton over blends—every ounce you carry counts, and every ounce you don’t carry counts even more.


As shown above, even simple things can be used for more than one purpose. For instance, you may not need to take a fork: Between a spoon and the knife you’ll carry, you have adequate utensils for eating. Even noodles don’t absolutely need a fork. Let the liquid cool a bit and just tip the cup to your mouth. Ta da! Noodles are gone, and you saved weight simply by not bringing one unnecessary item. Your spoon works in coffee or tea, soups and even for scooping veggies and fruit.

A poncho not only keeps you dry but also can act as a tent or lean-to quite easily. Depending on your location and terrain, you might not even need tent pegs: Just use a branch or two or hang over a low tree branch. Save the space; save the weight, and bring a good poncho instead of a separate tent.

Unless you plan on hiking in unfamiliar territory after dark, you don’t even need a compass: Use a standard-face watch with hands and numbers, and you have your compass. In the northern hemisphere, point the hour hand at the sun. The mid-line between the hour hand and the 12 mark is your North-south line. North is the line closer to the 12 mark. In the southern hemisphere, North is closer to the hour hand. If you don’t have such a watch, simply draw a watch face on paper or on the ground. Create the hour hand toward the sun…. You get the picture. You also get the direction and one less item you might have to carry—forget the compass unless you hike at night. (This technique works on cloudy days, too. Just look for the faint shadow.)


Don’t carry permanent items if you won’t need them for the entire trip. Use disposable alternatives and lighten your load when they’re used. There’s no sense in packing a plastic container that holds bread, for example, when you’ll eat the bread and make the container irrelevant. Yes, you can carry liquid in it, but you can do that with the lighter plastic bag, remember? Don’t pack “permanent” when “temporary” will do.


How you adapt these concepts to your exact packing list will depend on where you’re going, if you buddy pack with others and your experience. Recommending specific accessories wouldn’t suffice, for, unfortunately, we’re not going with you this trip. Maybe next time, though!

Article written by Holly Miller from Coupon Croc, the best place to save on all your backpacking gear and accessories when you shop with Littlewoods discount codes.