Eight Overlooked Essentials Every Thru-Hiker And Backpacker Should Carry

Telling a thru-hiker, die-hard backpacker what they should or should not carry is rarely advisable. Chances are, they will not look favorably upon any attempt to deprive them of something they’ve already spent days, maybe weeks in their own heads pondering whether or not to add, remove from their already ponderous and cumbersome loads. Nevertheless, we come in peace. If you bear with us, we’re going to take you through a list of eight essentials often overlooked by thru-hikers, backpackers alike which might not only make your next hike all the more comfortable and enjoyable, but more than earn their place in your backpack.

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1. Trekking Poles

While once considered a purely optional add-on reserved for octogenarians and slightly infirm trekkers, trekking poles now have medical and scientific research on their side, with these having shown that poles reduce stress on leg muscles and joints and help to improve lung capacity by bettering the user’s posture. Over a few hundred (or thousand) miles of walking, their benefit can be huge. In addition to the health benefits, trekking poles can be used in a number of useful ways – as a substitute for tent poles in a basic ridge tent, suspension poles for a tarp, a drying line for clothes, survival or emergency preparedness scenarios such as an improv stretcher in the case of an accident (feed the poles through your emergency shelter bag) or, when shortened, as makeshift snow-axes if late or residual snow has covered any of the high passes on your route.

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