Welcome to the third installment of putting together a thru-hiking kit for a variety of budgets, using cottage-industry brands. This week, we’re focusing on accessories. Since this is such a huge category with so many variables, we’ve changed up the format, with three budget categories, and our picks for items that fall into those categories.
Keep in mind that we focus on cottage-industry goods here at Garage Grown Gear, so the accessories all come from small companies. Check out our recommendations for the Big Three here, and our small-company food for thru-hiking for all budgets here.
Organizing your gear in the cavern of your pack is no easy feat, but the many varieties of smaller bags for organizing your gear gives you a fighting chance to find your toothbrush and ibuprofen in 50 liters of space. These pods come in four fun colors and three convenient sizes, with seam-taped zippers for extra protection. I like to put camp clothes in the larger one, and small loose items in the smallest size pod so I can grab it at camp or carry it around town.
If this is your entire cookset, you’re really killing the whole budget game. Cold soaking has risen in popularity among hikers who don’t want to bust out a stove every night, but who also don’t want to make every meal a log of salami. This bag has a large opening so you can get out all of your food, a one-liter capacity, and collapses small when you aren’t using it — unlike the hard-sided jars also popular among the cold-soaking crowd.
DIY Bleach Drops
This is as cheap as it gets, and lightweight to boot. We recommend emptying (and thoroughly cleaning) a bottle of eye drops, then filling the bottle with regular ol’ household bleach. This bottle allows you to carefully measure each drop taking the guesswork out of the amount. Add two drops per liter, wait 30 minutes, and you should be good to go.
Bumping up in price from our other option, these UL “packing cubes” are made from Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), the gold standard for durability, lightweight, and waterproofing. Napacks offers two sizes, 1.7L for the small, and 3.4L for the larger size.
These nifty little stoves are made from aluminum bottles that have been used and discarded. White Box salvages these bottles from landfills and recycling centers, and makes them into high-efficiency alcohol stoves that can boil eight cups of water with 2.5 ounces of fuel.
This filter is the go-to for thru-hikers. With a fast flow, a long lifetime, and the flexibility to screw onto water bottles and different size bladders for filtering, there’s a reason this is the classic we stick with. I’d recommend this to hikers of all budgets—you can buy a more expensive filter, but why would you? On top of being one of the best on the market, Sawyer is committed to giving back to the community and helping with water treatment all over the globe.
No Expense Spared
Made with ultralight, ultra-durable, waterproof DCF, these pods are pricey, but think of them like an investment. I have several of them, and their wide mouth and structure stacks well in a variety of packs; I use one of the larger models as a food bag. These are also handy as toiletry bags in town, and make life easier with packs that don’t have a lot of pockets and organization options.
Weighing a scant 0.7 ounces, this titanium stove is durable, ultralight, and boils water rapidly. Alcohol stoves are the cooking gear of choice for ultralight backpackers … just be sure to label your cooking alcohol, so as not to confuse it with your water. Speaking from a campsite drama I may or may not have witnessed on a thru-hike.
Miles and miles of trail each day does a number on the ol’ muscles. These eco-friendly cork massage balls (made from entirely recycled wine corks!) help relieve muscle tension, unknot your back, hips, and shoulders, and can even be used to roll out under your feet after a long day on the trail. They’re ultralight and compact—you won’t notice them in your bag, but you’ll be glad they’re there.
Sure, you can drip dry after on-trail bathroom breaks, but it’s a lot more comfortable to use the Kula Cloth. This is a pee cloth designed specifically for people who squat in the backcountry, and it’s incredibly comfortable, absorbent, and antimicrobial, helping you stay as hygienic as possible during long stints in the woods.