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Gear To Hold Dear

An article in the Co-op Journal argues for a good pillow, and I agree. I've done my fast and light, and occasionally still have a minimal overnight, but age can confer wisdom, and a need for creature comforts.

I used to also have a warmer internal thermostat. Even light sleeping bags could seem too warm at night. Those days are over, as well as the days of carrying extra clothing.

The way I understand it, if you are not sleeping in all of your clothing (outside of your rain gear) you have either carried too much clothing or too much sleeping bag. Well, maybe one extra clothing item for emergencies. I also won't sleep in my hiking pants or shirt unless I am very cold, or on a fast and light mission.

So I began carrying an inflatable backpacking pillow from Coughlin's I found at a thrift store. After it broke, a little bit too early, I was considering reviewing backpacking pillows online. Before it rose to the top of my to-do list, my eyes caught a glimpse of water wings on the 50% off rack in my grocery store in South Lake Tahoe. It only took an instant for my mind to put the two together.

The first pair lasted longer than the designed backpacking pillow. The second pair I bought for full price and have been using for a couple of years now. I bought two pairs that day and still have the spare pair as a backup.

I also carry a chair converter for my sleeping pad so I have outed myself as not being a light and fast hiker anymore, as if that were even possible!

My question:

What what gear do you carry that dances on the edge of Essential and/or Extra Weight?

17 Replies

Regardless of how many times I read that you don't need any spare clothes, I almost always carry a spare shirt, socks, underwear, and pants. I have no desire to sit around in wet clothes at the end of the day, whether from rain or perspiration. Not to mention I do most of my hiking when it's cooler, so when I stop for the day it's easy to get chilled. 

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Agree, when you get the camp soaking wet, you need to put on your dry stuff, and in the morning, put back on your wet stuff, and try to walk it dry. 

This usually only works when the temperatures are high enough so you’re really talking about dressing so you don’t get hypothermia.

In the winter, You need to do everything in your power to not get wet

REI Member Since 1979

I have learned that in some conditions it's best to keep on my hiking clothes as I set up camp to attempt to dry them a little bit. Otherwise, I agree about having hiking clothes and non hiking clothes.

For me, its the pillow.  I tried for many years to put clothes in a stuff bag and use that, but could never get comfortable so I now use an inflatable pillow.  I roll it up with my air mattress when I'm hiking.

I've always been one to carry too many clothes.  I carry a dedicated pair of long johns just for sleeping as I can't get comfortable sleeping in clothes..all the seams just cut into me.  And having damp underwear is a bad scene for those of us prone to yeast infections, so I change underwear.  I'm also religious about foot care so I carry more socks than I probably need too.  But a spare change of outer clothes is a must.  When we were backpacking Picture Rocks, I fell in very silty mud.  I had a hard time getting up it was so slippery.  It was everywhere including down inside of my gloves.  If we had not been hiking out that day, I would have been miserable if I didn't have other clothes to put one.  As it was, I was pretty miserable the last few miles to the parking lot at the visitor's center.  We got to the car, I wrapped my pack in my duck back and then stripped right in the parking lot.  My clothes went in a bag and I put on my traveling clothes.

Found Myself Outside

@Former community member @Luv2Kayak 

Here's a third vote for a pillow! I'm a side sleeper and have just never gotten the hang of sleeping on stuffed clothes or a rolled up jacket. I end up fighting with it all night. I have a combo that I use: a fleece lined REI Co-op Pillow stuff sack I bought years ago and a Sea to Summit inflatable pillow. I find that when I flip the stuff sack inside out (fleece on the outside), put the pillow inside, and fold up my down jacket and place it on top of the pillow in the stuff sack, I'm in heaven! The pillow folds down to nothing and only a couple of ounces and the stuff sack is slightly bulkier than normal, but I am able to justify it because I can put other things inside it so I can convince myself it doesn't matter. At any rate, when I'm comfy in bed at camp I have no problem believing its all worth it.

Great thread, thanks for posting!

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Hey @REI-JohnJ I have one of those stuff sacks as well and use it the same way!  Though after having two Seat-to-Summit pillows open at the seams, I moved on to the Exped.  It's more comfortable as well.

Found Myself Outside

I love my stuff sack with fleece on the inside! It’s been my go-to pillow for several years now!

REI Member Since 1979

Well, some would say my chair, But I would wholeheartedly disagree, because I need to rest my back at the end of a long day.

And To add, my “long days” are only about 8 to 10 miles or about five hours of walking, I really enjoy taking a good nap before dinner, LOL!

PS I’m dictating this and have no clue why bold is on

REI Member Since 1979

For me, I bring an extra pair of underwear & socks and change them out every other hiking day with the same hiking clothes.  I do however bring a complete clean & try change of baselayers to sleep in that I never hike in.  Give my skin some time to relax away from the nasty hiking clothes.  Also, since I'm a sleep "snob", I do carry a backpacking pillow.  I own 4 pillows, because I'm on a hunt for the perfect fit for me.