Students going home! 15 surprising items you didn’t need to travel pack for your hiking trip

In the airport security line, with a huge overstuffed bag. The alarm goes off and now the TSA agent is opening it up, undoing the beautiful packing job that you’ve done. It just takes time and headache. Minimize this problem by packing a lighter bag.

My goal here is to decrease the weight and bulk that you have to carry by leveraging items you probably have at home. If you don’t have them there…stash them in a drawer next time you’re away.

The decreased weight makes it easier to lug around and easier to pack up again if you find yourself in the situation above.

If traveling home for the holidays and you want to hike or a camping trip takes you by your old haunts, the list of items below can probably be left out of your travel bag to save space. Some may seem overkill because the items are so small, but they seriously all take up weight and space. If you have an extra drawer at home, stash these in there and save yourself the trouble.

1. running shoes – I have a few pairs tucked in my parents garage and they don’t care. If you don’t, here’s some ways to fix that: wear an old pair next trip home and leave them there; pick up a cheap (<$30) pair at a Sports Authority or Big 5 or other big box store (hiking they’re probably going to get trashed anyway). Sure it’d be nice to have your super light weight shoes, if they fit, bring them. I opt to wear a pair of dress or nicer shoes and just wear kinda trashy ones on trail

2. spork – you love it, I hope you didn’t get a titanium spork. I leave mine at home and just grab a spoon or fork (usually a spoon) from my parents dining set. “But a spork is so light!” you say. Well, I am trying to save all the weight and fuss that I can, so the spork goes.

3. multitool – here’s one that will ruffle a few feathers. On a camp/hiking trip I almost always bring my leatherman. Recently the TSA has allowed certain pocket knives/multitools that would be perfect for camping. Well, I brought one. On the trip out it was fine. On the trip back, the TSA had changed their guidelines and I had to ship my tool back or check a bag and go through security again…womp womp. A leatherman tool is about $30, and lots of people have received something like it for Christmas as a gift or a stocking stuffer. A friend might have an extra or you might have an extra that you could leave at home. To me, not having to check a bag is a huge savings in time and logistics in case my flight plans don’t go as planned.

4. zippo lighter – you can bring it on planes, given certain restrictions. I hit up a restaurant for a meal and get a pack of matches. Alternatively, I have a stash of waterproof matches at home.

5. nylon athletic shorts – great for hiking. I mean a pair of athletic shorts, tights, and jeans, are most of what you’ll need for a hike anyway. UNLESS THERE ARE MOSQUITOES. You probably have some at home.

6. socks. seriously all these things take up space. wear a pair on the plane and pick up more at home

7. duct tape – someone will have some. buy a roll and leave it there for your parents.

8. food – this one is obvious, but just something to think about. there should be an REI or outfitter that you can get to before your trip to make this work. kick in alcohol as well.

9. firestarter – my favorite firestarter is homemade. cotton balls, vaseline, kept in plastic bags or film camera rolls. It has been awesome. Plus, I think bringing a firestarter would be kinda hard on a plane anyway. Maybe you’re camping in conditions that you’re confident you can make a fire without aids…that’s not me, but more power to you if you can.

10. stove supply – might be a bit bulky. might be highly not allowed. If it’s a short camping trip, you probably won’t use the whole supply. They cost about $5 and are available at many sporting goods stores. Give it to your friend when you leave.

11. boots – maybe yes, maybe no. I usually opt for no because my Dad has similar sized feet and a wide collection of work boots…rugged and well worn in. I don’t often opt to hike in boots, but when I do, I can count on grabbing a pair of these and saving weight. Again, could have some shit kickers that you just left at home for yard work or something.

12. sweatshirt or fleece- didn’t cross my mind. on all my trips i bring these bulky items. last time i went home, I realized I had perfectly serviceable equivalents in a closet. I do travel from Minnesota now, so I’m wearing a heavy jacket half the darn year anyway, but if you’re traveling from a more fair weather climate, go for it. That’s huge savings.

13. water bottle – unless you have a favorite nalgene with cool stickers or a bottle that you use for boiling water or something, you can probably grab a cheap water bottle at home. I have a water bladder that I carry-on in my bag, but my water bottle stays at home. Sometimes I bring a flask, and I can put water in that once I get to the airport.

14. water filter – I’m a fan of aquamira tablets in general, so I wouldn’t carry a filter with me.

15. reading material – If there’s a book you’re on, stick with it, but there are a ton of magazines, or articles you can print to carry around with you. Or, you know, just enjoy your time outdoors!

It is always tough cutting things out of your load, but I have experienced time and time again that by cutting things, and forcing myself to pack with restrictions (smaller bag, lighter load, carry-on only), I end up understanding what is is that I really need and end up having a much more enjoyable experience.

Go out and have an adventure


3 thoughts on “Students going home! 15 surprising items you didn’t need to travel pack for your hiking trip

    • Thanks for the comment. Looks like you do a lot of running? That’s one of my favorite workouts…though I’ve had to adapt my clothing since I’ve moved to Minnesota from the west coast.

      For trips, it’s fun/a challenge to pack lightly. I’m going to try and go one-bag on an upcoming Europe trip. Usually, it’s worth it to pack a pair of running shoes because a morning run is a great way to ‘explore’ where you are before people get up. A mini-adventure in the morning. Those ‘minimal’ running shoes seem awesome (my girlfriends are so packable), but I’ve always just used the big clunky big box store shoes.

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