Chalk it up to my love for ultrarunning, but using massage balls and foam rollers to relieve tender, sore muscles is nothing new to me. What is new to me is the idea of bringing this type of self-care tool with me on a backpacking trip.
While I’m definitely not fanatical about going ultralight, I do pay careful attention to each and every item that goes into my pack, and nothing makes the cut without first getting scrutinized. As I palmed my new Rawlogy Cork Massage Ball while packing for a traverse of the White Cloud Mountains in Idaho, I decided that at 1.4 ounces it passed the weight-to-benefit test.
After four days of using it on trail, I found my Rawlogy ball to be a simple solution for an issue that plagues nearly all backpackers — namely, keeping your body loose and limber when you’re hiking during the day and sleeping on hard ground at night.
What I Like About Rawlogy Cork Massage Balls
- Lightweight - The Classic size at 2.5 inches in diameter weighs 1.4 ounces (the one I brought with me), while the Mini at 1.9 inches in diameter weighs a mere 0.7 ounces.
- Firm but Supple - I worried that the Rawlogy ball would be too firm, as wooden massage tools can sometimes be too much for my muscles. But the cork actually has a surprising level of softness and give without feeling ‘foam-y.’
- Made from Recycled Materials - Rawlogy massage balls are made from repurposed wine corks, then quality checked at the brand’s shop in Los Angeles, California.
- Easy to Share - This is something that can definitely get categorized as ‘group gear’ and passed around. And, it also makes for an entertaining trail joke: ‘Share your balls.’ (Um, yes, being outdoors does bring out the best in me!)
- Works as Designed - I really do feel better after spending a few minutes rolling out and practicing self-care with a Rawlogy cork massage ball.
- I 💜Rawlogy’s Founder - Marek Bowers is an extremely awesome, inspirational guy. You can read his story here.
- Versatile - In addition to using my Rawlogy ball for backpacking, I use it all the time in daily life and while traveling. In fact, it pretty much lives in my purse when it’s not in my pack.
What I Don’t Like
- Need a Good Surface - This isn’t so much a con, but rather just something to know: you need a good surface to effectively use a Rawlogy ball. On the White Clouds trip, I had the luxury accommodations of a Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid, meaning I had plenty of room to practice a massage routine before going to bed at night. There were also lots of large, flat boulders in the area to use for this purpose. But I can imagine other sleeping arrangements and environments where a good surface would be harder to find (example: hammocking in lush, highly vegetated forests).
- Takes Time - I’ve always struggled with efficient transitions, whether adventure racing, backcountry skiing, backpacking or in daily life. And I’m definitely not a morning songbird. Between the two — and despite my earnest efforts — I’m often the last one in my group to have my pack filled up, cinched down and ready to roll for the day.
To be fair, I tend to choose quite seasoned backpacking companions who can do the above with insane efficiency. But it’s usually while I’m taking those extra 10 minutes to get ready that everyone else is stretching and using a tool like a Rawlogy ball. And, it’s not really my style to ask people to wait even longer for me to fit that in. So it’s typically at lunch or at night before I’m thinking about self-care.
Rawlogy’s Lightweight Cork Massage Ball is definitely one of those things that I didn’t know I needed, but now that I have one, I don’t know how I lived without it. While I might think twice about bringing it on a fastpacking trip, I’ll never hesitate to bring it on a backpacking trip where we’re taking lunch breaks and rolling into camp at night with a few hours to spare. It really does do wonders for helping my body to feel fresh and spry.