As we age, sometimes gear list ‘Wants’ turn into gear list ‘Needs’ .
Some odd things become worth the weight in our packs, when years before we would have considered them heavy luxuries.
Here’s three of mine:
Backup Glasses / Magnifier
I’ve worn glasses since starting grad school, but only recently did I really, really need them to read small print; as in, I can’t read map details clearly without them.
A map you can’t read isn’t much better than no map at all.
So I need a backup.
I have always carried a map and a compass, and now I carry something to magnify with too. Having a backup to glasses on the trail could mean the difference between being lost and found.
For several years now, I have carried and used i4ulenses.
i4ulenses are lightweight but strong plastic, fit on the bridge of your nose like old-fashioned Pince-nez, and come with a small protective case for storage. You can order them in different magnification strengths.
Worth the weight? At 1/2 oz (14 g), to me, yes.
(And that’s the weight with case; if you are willing to skip the case and store them without, then half that weight.)
Foot Massage Ball
To help with some issues caused by a bruise on one of my feet, I recently got a Trigger Point Massage Ball as suggested by my PT.
It’s the perfect end-of-the-hiking day tool to help you massage those tired puppies.
Here a nice video showing some “Therapy Ball Exercises to Release Your Fascia” and I find these good exercises for my hiking feet.
The ball also works great on other muscles as well. I massage my legs with it after a hike, too, especially the calves.
Worth the weight? At 3/4 oz (23 g), to me, yes.
The Uribag, aka the urinal bag, aka the better pee bottle.
At a certain point in a man’s life, the most important organ in the crotch area, the one that since puberty has been the focus of all his thoughts and life, ceases its role as the man’s master; a role then usurped by the humble prostate gland.
I first got a Uribag for road trips, where it works great, and then used it car camping in my tent to replace my traditional pee bottle.
For years I used a pee bottle for car camping, just a large plastic jar I found at Goodwill. It has a wide opening and a tight lid. When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you live with rain. And so you learn to stay dry in your tent at night. Pee bottles rule.
For backpacking, I use a tarp and bivy usually, and the Uribag is the perfect answer to not having to get out and get wet at night to pee – or, in Summer, to get out and get bit by bugs. And I really, really hate bugs, esp. mosquitoes.
The Uribag holds one liter. It packs small, expands and contracts easily, and the rubber balloon container is tough. It’s easy to clean, too: put in some water, maybe a tiny squirt of soap, shake it around and dispose of it properly (ie dispersed, not near a water source of any kind!)
Best of all, it is pretty easy to pee into while lying on your side: no more getting up on your knees to pee down into a bottle.
Worth the weight? At 2.0 oz, to me, yes.