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My 10 luxury items on the trail

When you think of “long-distance hiking,” you might not immediately associate it with luxury travel. Let’s not beat around the bush; this mode of travel is indeed not luxurious. However, over the years of embarking on these journeys, I’ve noticed that every hiker carries their own personal luxury. This manifests in the form of “luxury items”: items that are not essential for survival but make the hiking experience more enjoyable.

Every hiker is different, so everyone carries their own selection of luxury items. For example, I once met someone who always carried a kilogram of Snickers because they enjoyed them so much. Or a group of friends who brought along a decent music speaker to have some atmosphere in the huts in the evenings and mornings (I can hear you groaning already that it might be annoying for other hikers, but don’t worry: they were extremely respectful about it).

Over the years, my personal list of luxury items has slowly taken shape. On an average long-distance hike, I usually carry about ten luxury items with me. For the curious ones: yes indeed, I’ll share them here!

overzicht e-reader, dagboek, Aeropress en koffiemolen
  1. E-reader + diary

At the beginning of my hiking adventures, I invested in a waterproof e-reader, which I took with me on the trails with good intentions. However, when I was actually in the midst of the hiking adventure, I found that I rarely had the desire or time to use my e-reader. I was more focused on planning the hike, recalculating my food supplies, and as a newbie, I was overly enthusiastic, resulting in hiking days from 8 am to 8 pm. Either I was hiking, or I was sleeping, and I didn’t have any time to pull out my e-reader. I decided to remove it from my gear and did several hikes without it.

Today, I am a bit more experienced as a hiker. I don’t need to spend as much time planning the upcoming days, I’ve become a bit less fanatical about the length of my hiking days, and as a result, I have some time in the morning and evening in my tent. And it’s so wonderful to dive into a good book during those moments!

Since I have a lot of time during the day to think, I often find myself fantasizing about the story, which allows me to experience the story on a much deeper level than if I were reading it in Belgium. So, if you have a specific book in mind that you want to delve into deeply, this is the ideal opportunity.

In addition to an e-reader, I also always bring along a thin, blank notebook. I use this as a diary to write down thoughts in the evening. The hiking trail often triggers thoughts about my daily life, and to avoid getting stuck in these thoughts, it helps me to write them down in the evening. This way, I come to new insights in the evening, can process them in my sleep, and can take a new step on this train of thought the next day.

You can find my e-reader here.

2. Coffee grinder + Aeropress
Those who follow me on Youtube may have seen a video last summer about my coffee-making method. In it, I explain how, as a former barista, I make coffee on the hiking trail. For this, I carry an Aeropress and coffee grinder with me, so that I can enjoy my own coffee moment in the morning.

You can find the grinder here, the Aeropress here, and how I use the Aeropress exactly, you can see here.

3. Emiel
Emiel, my polar bear stuffed animal and faithful companion, has become a true pioneer when it comes to hiking. I received him as a gift when I was about six years old, and he fits perfectly in the shoulder pocket of my backpack. While hiking, he serves as a spokesperson, mental support, and… he’s a great conversation starter with fellow hikers!

4. Sandals

Nothing is as annoying as hiking all day in non-breathable shoes, only to have to put them back on around your tent or at a hut in the evening. They’re heavy, possibly even wet, and since your feet swell in the evening, putting your hiking shoes back on can be a painful experience.
To spare myself this hassle, I carry lightweight water sandals with me. This allows my feet to breathe, allows my hiking shoes to dry properly, and I don’t have to put those heavy blocks back on in the evenings and at night.
Also handy: I chose water sandals that I can use if I want to take a dip in a mountain lake along the way. Protected feet are no luxury, especially in a period when they are the most valuable part of your body!

You can find my sandals here.

5. Nuud deodorant

A recent discovery and now a holy grail during long-distance hiking: Nuud Deodorant. This natural deodorant comes in a small tube and only needs to be used once every few days. It allows you to continue sweating, but it kills the bacteria in your sweat (which cause unpleasant odors). All of this in a way that is good for your body, so it’s a win-win situation for both the people around you and yourself.
I also use it in my daily life, and I can’t say anything other than that it’s a miracle product.

You can find Nuud Deodorant here.

6. Sitting pad
An item that I use for various purposes during my hikes: my sit mat. I keep it on the outside of my backpack so that I can easily access it during breaks. This way, I always have a soft, dry spot to sit while I catch my breath. My backside is grateful :).
In addition to this initial function, I also use it as a nightstand (so that my camera, phone, and power bank are not on the cold ground; batteries drain faster that way). On windy days, it also serves as a windbreak for my stove. Multi-functional, indeed!

You can find my sitting pad here.

7. Garmin Inreach Mini
A luxury item that can be debated whether it is even a luxury item: a GPS with emergency function. Since not every hiker carries this item and you technically don’t need it to survive, it still ends up on this list. I hike alone and have been increasingly exploring trails with fewer fellow hikers lately. In that case, it’s wise to be prepared for the worst.
With this device, I can contact emergency services at any location (even where there is no phone connection) if a catastrophe were to occur. Also handy: it gives me a small corrective beep when I deviate from the route, and it allows my family and friends to follow along live on an online map. This way, my parents are reassured, and so am I!

You can find the Garmin Inreach Mini here.

8. Camera + microphone + tripod
Since I like to capture my hiking adventures on camera, I carry a camera and tripod with me. And because I value quality sound with those images, I mount a microphone on my camera. Together, they make quite a setup: I use a Sony A6400 for filming, a Røde microphone for sound, and a Rollei tripod as a stand.
An additional tip for those who want to film: don’t forget to bring enough memory cards (I speak, unfortunately, from experience).

Here you can find my camera, microphone and tripod.

9. Towel
Sometimes I take it with me, sometimes not, but lately more often than not: a small towel. It’s not essential per se, as a shower is practically a mirage on the trail. If I do encounter one, I can use my quick-drying hiking shirt as a towel.
Still, I appreciate the luxury of having a towel, and along the way, I can use it for other purposes. For instance, I use it to wipe condensation off my tent fly at night or in the morning, to dry my cooking pot, and to dry the floor of my tent if it turns out to be wet when setting up camp in the evening.

You can find my towel here.

10. Down sleeping socks
I’m a cold person by nature. Always have been, and most likely always will be. Not so pleasant when I go hiking in colder areas, as my hands and feet often suffer the most. To give my feet some extra warmth during cold nights, I bring foot warmers with me. These are mini sleeping bags shaped like feet that I can wear as an extra layer inside my sleeping bag. Happy feet, and therefore also: a happy Floor!

You can find my down sleeping socks here.

Kudos to you! In a time of short attention spans, you’ve managed to stick with it until the end of this article. This list will likely evolve over the years. Perhaps at some point, I’ll decide not to carry sandals anymore but prefer some painting supplies instead. Hiking is a personal experience, which means your hiking habits change as you change. That’s exciting, because it keeps things interesting!

Good luck packing, and big kisses

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