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You don’t have to adopt an ultra-light philosophy for a multi-day excursion. This article argues convincingly the joys of trekking with a few quasi-essential items in your arsenal.

When the hard times come and the drudgery of everyday routine wears you down, hitting the trail can be an invigorating experience, but you don’t have to leave all your comforts behind.

Aside from the most essential items—food, water, first-aid kit, etc—a few luxuries can be afforded for the trek, if you can manage the extra weight. Let’s take a look at some quasi-essential items that could enrich your outdoor experience.

Smart phone

You probably wouldn’t leave home without it, anyway. Your smart phone can be used for everything—from tracking your supply caches to reading an ebook by the campfire. The only challenge is keeping the device charged for several days.

If you have an Android phone, simply purchasing extra batteries and having them charged prior to heading out will be sufficient. You can purchase generic batteries for your particular device relatively cheap online.

For other devices that have inaccessible batteries—such as iPhones—a small solar charger can be purchased. These come in a variety of sizes and price ranges. An inexpensive one will do, provided it will yield a full charge. Make sure to lash it outside your pack during the day so it will be ready for charging your device in the evening.

.22 Rifle

It may seem ridiculous to ultra-light aficionados, but a .22 caliber rifle is a fun thing to have on the trail. Not only does it give you a sense of added security, but plinking around camp can be a satisfying sport after a day of hiking.

Of course, proper instruction in handling firearms is of utmost importance. Always shoot responsibly and be considerate of other hikers. Some may feel uneasy when encountering a stranger on the trail with a firearm. Verify that there are no restrictions on gun use in the area prior to beginning your hike.

If you are licensed to hunt and the season is in, getting up early to bag a few squirrels provides a tasty fireside meal. Caching your ammunition will cut down on excessive weight.

Travel Guitar

Some travel guitars are made specifically for backpacking—like the Martin Backpacker, which has a surprisingly good sound despite its slim design. It’s perfect for strumming by the campfire while singing Hard Times Come Again No More.

A backpacking guitar is no more of a challenge to pack than a canoe paddle, and could just as easily function as one in a survival situation. (Some survival scenarios may even warrant using it for kindling!)

If you don’t know how to play the guitar, the backcountry is a great place to learn. You could opt to bring a telescope instead, if the guitar is not your thing—but that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

The Quasi-Essential Continuum

You have to draw the line somewhere, lest your encumbrance bear a curious resemblance to early scenes in The Pilgrim’s Progress. While you could probably think of many more things that fall in the category of quasi-essential, the idea is to get the most out of your
multi-day hike.

So, when the hard times come again and you have to dip off into the woods, defy the ultralight philosophy and consider a few quasi-essentials. After all, it’s better to pack a little heavier if the enjoyment it offers can help take a little bit of the load off your mind.

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