10 Gear Items that Transition from Trail to Town Life

Maggie Dimmick

The transition from an epic trail journey back to life in towns and cities can be rough physically and mentally. I also often find myself attached to certain pieces of my backpacking kit and the good memories and feeling of freedom they represent. Luckily, I’ve found that some ultralight backpacking gear works super well on both trail and in town. Why not keep utilizing the pieces you've invested in for your outdoor pursuits for your life off-trail too? 

1. Fanny Packs


Fanny packs are endlessly useful for the ultralight backpacker, and the utility certainly can extend to life back in town. It’s also great for zero days in town when you need to zoom around doing town chores without your pack on. Plus the cool factor is high in both trail and town social spaces. I especially love this topo-printed Dyneema fanny pack by High Tail Designs because of its low-profile shape and how it offers a balance of simplicity and functionality. GGG has an abundance of other styles and colors from other small brands too. 

2. Umbrellas

It can be rainy and sunny in towns just as much as on trail. Every umbrella we carry here at GGG is useful for rain and sun cover on trail and beyond. The Six Moon Designs Silver Shadow mini umbrella is especially nice for town life to keep in your day bag or in your car. For blocking the sun’s rays, this mini umbrella works great at the beach or outdoor concerts too.             

3. Ultralight Wallets


Like with many things, once you have an ultralight version of something, it’s hard to go back to the heavier stuff. If you keep your wallet items to a minimum, an ultralight wallet like the Hawbuck wallet can work well in town life too. Yet I especially love Michigan-based Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear’s zippered ultralight wallet since my wallet contents love the spaciousness of a single zippered vessel, and the bright colors help me find it in my bag both on trail and off.

4. Merino Hiking Socks


Since starting to work here at GGG, I’ve replaced all my wool winter socks with ToughCutie ones. They’re fabulous for hiking of course with their reinforced toe, heel, and optimized rib in just the right places. My basic everyday town socks also run into the same tension and abrasion points as on trail, so I’m now a full-time convert to these comfy wooly dreams. For men or people with wide feet, Darn Tough makes great socks too. It’s hard to go back to non-reinforced socks at this point!

5. Alpha Hoodies


While an Alpha Direct fleece hoodie keeps you warm and regulated on trail, it’s a great way to impress your friends back in town too. “What’s that meshy furry fabric you’re wearing?” they will ask as they ooo and ahh at a texture they’ve never seen before. If you’re into bragging, here’s a great chance to do so. Plus functionally, it’s a great layering piece, especially during the swing seasons. Personally, I love throwing it on after leaving a dance class to help capture my warmth while still allowing for airflow.

6. Salsa Queen


You know how some foods taste really good on trail, but when you try them back at home, they just totally aren’t the same? Salsa Queen’s freeze-dried salsas are an exception to that phenomenon. In fact, they are a phenomenon in and of themselves. Carrying fresh salsa while biking to my favorite picnic spots around town can be risky. I have too many bad memories of food leaks in my bag while traveling around town. But with Salsa Queen packets, they’re small, flat, light, and dry. Just add water when it’s mealtime, and voilà: less-messy fresh salsa anywhere! I’ve even gifted these to busy parents on the go, and the've given their seal of approval too. 

7. Fozzil Bowls


Again, picnicsSnapfold™ Bowlz by Fozzils work everywhere! At first I thought these bowls were a piece of trail luxury, and in some ways they are, but there’s just no denying they work super well on trail and off trail. As a lightweight, flexible, and nearly unbreakable bowl, as a cutting board, or as a cheese and cracker holder... I mean they just work. And again, you’ll impress your town friends with your savviness on picnics. 

8. Aloe Up Sunscreen


Since the sun is everywhere, you need sunscreen everywhere. I’ve tried tons of different sunscreens through the years, and I swear to you, Aloe Up has some of the best feeling sunscreen out there. Mineral sunscreens work super well, but, at risk of sounding vain, the white film just isn’t fit for town life as much. But you don’t even need to worry about vanity because Aloe Up’s aloe-based formula is lightweight, white-film-free, absorbable, and comes in sizes that are fit for trail and town alike.

9. Hartford Gear Co. Pack Pods


Upon first sight, Hartford's pack pods bring me back to elementary school and the smell of freshly sharpened wooden pencils. Besides working well as sturdy ditty bags for backpacking, they're also the perfect size for pencils, pens, and markers for creative pursuits back home. They make great gifts for any school-goers in your life too. I have gifted some successfully to picky teenagers, which is the hardest audience to please!

10. SOTO pocket torch


The first time I saw the SOTO pocket torch I thought: crème brulée. Probably not the first thought of most other hikers out there, but this made me think of my mom, an avid cook who loves the challenge of caramelizing sugar over custard to make this classic dessert. [Please exercise great caution with anything like this!] The pocket torch’s interior lighter can also be refilled with fuel, thus prolonging the lifespan of this important piece of backpacking gear. You can use it for a whole variety of things in town life from lighting incense to melting the ends of paracord for your MYOG projects... the list goes on. 

Whatever your transitions between trail and town look like, I hope you find some of these ultralight gear pieces helpful in both realms of life. After a long hike, you don't need to give up every aspect of the trail when resuming life back in "society," and I believe weaving in some pieces of the trail into everyday life can help with the psychological reintegration process in a way.  If you ever feel the longing for trail while in town and town while on trail, perhaps one of these items will bring back positive memories of one or the other. 

Happy trails! 

Maggie is an artist, hiker, Earth advocate, auntie, and Marketing & Editorial Manager at Garage Grown Gear. Originally from the East Coast and currently residing in Minneapolis, she worked in the fashion industry and owned a zero-waste textile studio before joining the wonderful team at GGG. When she isn’t at work or on trail, you can find her making something out of rescued materials, dancing, or following her curiosity wherever it leads her. 


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1 comment



Backpacking gear can be used all kinds of places! I recently went to a Comic Convention and realized how many things could come in handy there. Kula cloth in case the public restrooms hadn’t been restocked, sit pad for a comfy place to sit even if it’s the floor, my light backpack to keep everything together, and my collapsible water bottle to keep me hydrated.

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