“If you can’t ride two horses at once you shouldn’t be in the circus.”
- James Maxton (1885-1946)
Items that can fulfil more than one purpose are a great way of decreasing your base weight. Examples include:
- Pot: Can act as bowl, cup and washing vessel.
- Bandana: Towel, water filter, neck protection, pot cleaner, tent drier, hanky, useful to wear on your face during sand storms, makeshift gaiters when the trail is overgrown. I always carry two.
- Sleeping Mat: Can be used as a makeshift frame sheet to give structure to a frameless backpack; good for sitting and stretching on during breaks.
- Smart Phone: Cell phone, MP3, GPS, computer for keeping a journal. Those who know me will have a bit of a chuckle over this one, as I have always been a bit of a technophobe when it comes to carrying gadgets on the trail. However, for my next thru-hike, I am seriously considering carrying one of these thingamajigs for journaling purposes.
- Hiking Poles: Can be used to hold up many lightweight tents and tarps. Very helpful when crossing fast flowing rivers (see River Crossings in HEALTH & SAFETY). Also handy for protection in Third World countries when you find yourself surrounded by a pack of potentially rabid dogs.
- Backpack: Put under your feet at night, thus allowing you to use a ¾ length rather than a full-length mat. It’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds. It’s good for you as well, as after a long day’s walking having your feet raised helps to decrease swelling in the lower extremities.
- Tent Peg: In addition to its primary role in keeping your shelter up, can be used instead of a potty trowel to dig holes.
- Dental Floss: Can double as thread for sewing.
- Socks: Can double as mittens.
- Thermal Shirt: Can be used as a scarf when the temperature drops.
- Poncho Tarp: Can serve as shelter, pack cover, rain protection, ground sheet. Along with the bandana, the ultimate multi-purpose backpacking item.