Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
I thought it'd be fun to share a few tips and techniques that have really made things easier for me and see what other tricks people have come up with over the years.
Ditch the syringe and tube that comes with the Sawyer Mini, along with whatever you carry it in, and use a Smartwater flip-top cap on the top of your clean bottle to back-flush your filter instead. I learned this one from Youtube.
Forget about carrying a wind jacket; just use your rain jacket instead. This one I learned from an article or forum too long ago to remember where exactly.
If you hike in trail runners, instead of carrying separate camp shoes, just change into your dry socks and cover them with roasting bags before you put your shoes back on to keep the socks dry. I got this tip from a fellow member of this forum (thanks BrianLe!).
What about you? What are your not-so-obvious time, space, weight, and convenience enhancing tricks?
I once used my spare underwear for a hat to keep my head warm on an unexpectedly cold trip. My 12 year old niece, who was backpacking with me, was not too impressed however. "Oh gross!" I think she said. Of course she is the same backpacking buddy who came up with the idea of using her hair for floss some years later.
...I also use my down vest as a pillow, my pack towel (when I bring it) as a scarf, socks for mittens. Plus I have a fleece lined stuff sack that doubles as a pillow case and a pretty warm thermal cap...though I admit it's a heavy stuff sack and a very goofy looking cap.
I think I would ditch the spare underware and always take a fleece hat - the weight is about the same. Never understood the need for spare underware-I simply go without when I wash my underware. My husband goes totally "natural", thus saving the weight of underware altogether!
Just think of double duty for every item. Since I usually take a dip at the end of each hiking day, and wash my hiking shirt anyway, I simply dip first, and then use the shirt for a towel before I rinse it off.
Think hard- do I really need that? I used to alawys carry a compass. After years of never needing it I simply quite taking it. GPS? - no I just do maps. Maps? - if I am really familar with the area I go without. Headlamp? Leave it home mid summer when there is more daylight than I can effectively use anyway and do not take it when there is a full moon. TP- I have cut this in half by using a "pee rag" (mine is a baby washcloth). Frying pan? Unless I am cooking fish every night I just fry fish in my 1-qt titanium pot. Electronics?- just say no. Group gear? If going with a group or someone else, bring one stove, share what you can in emergency gear. Down sweater? A luxury item (not a 100% insulating layer because if it gets wet is is worthless). Sometimes do not take it and simply hop into my sleeping bag early if it is cold. "Extra" anything? just be careful not to lose anything and only take gear that is in good shape to begin with.
I limit non-essential stuff to one pound. Sometimes that means taking fishing gear, but not the down sweater; or the thicker sleeping pad instead of fishing gear; or camp shoes instead of a book.
I like to carry either a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman Squirt in my pocket because I'm always using them for little tasks. So, to keep them from falling out when I sit down, I add one of those ubiquitous accessory carabiners to the key ring and hook it inside the edge of my pocket.
A secondary advantage is that it carries vertically in my pocket, which keeps it from turning sideways and pressing into my leg or potentially wearing a hole in the lining --another way to lose your knife.
When I want to use the knife, I just rotate it out over the top hooked portion and completely off of the carabiner. Or in the case of the Squirt, I leave the carabiner on and use that as additional handle space.
If you use a water filter with a hose at the outlet, like a Pur (I mean Katahdin) Hiker, slip a small binder clip over the end of the hose and clamp it to the lip of the bottle you're filling to prevent the hose from slipping out. Patent pending
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
...I used to alawys carry a compass. After years of never needing it I simply quite taking it. GPS? - no I just do maps. Maps? - if I am really familar with the area I go without. Headlamp? Leave it home mid summer when there is more daylight than I can effectively use anyway and do not take it when there is a full moon...
I'm impressed how many of even the "essentials" you can comfortably do without in the right situation. I wouldn't recommend that to a beginner, but knowing what and when to ditch something comes with experience, and I know you have it.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Most of my best tips I got here.
I use a piece of "Bubble Foil" under my sleeping pad and folded up as a seat pad and back rest when sitting.
That's really the best multi-use hack for lightweight gear I can say I've came up with. It provides both protection and additional warmth for a sleeping pad and makes a great sitting pad that keeps your buns and back warm and comfy. I also used it under my bag in my hammock in some pretty cold weather and it worked great. I'd say probably better than a down quilt. I can't say for sure, but I did test it with and without it and the difference was amazing. It's not enough padding for me to ditch the sleeping pad, but it might be for some.
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Not really a hack but how I carry my Filter setup.
It dont look like much but there is a scoop at the bottom of the smart water bottle from a 1 liter soda bottle. The piece of innertube holds a few Aqua Mira Tablets and doubles as a firestarter (trim off a bit) My fresh water bottle has a sports cap that can be used to back-flush the sawyer mini.
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
For hydrating on the trail I have a water bottle holder from zimmerbuilt, a sports cap with a silicone food grade hose inserted. I also keep propel in another zimmerbuilt pouch on the other side or in my hip belt pouches.