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Trekking poles: Swallow your pride, use the trekking poles, trust me. I have back problems and when it's acting up it can severely affect my balance and equilibrium. On one particular hike in some very wet muddy, slippery, uneven conditions I fashioned a walking stick just to help keep myself upright. After that, I got some trekking poles. (during our first trip to the Porkies, Angela dislocated her knee and wouldn't have been able to walk (limp) out without them!) Even in ideal conditions without any back problems, I feel like I can go further, faster with them than without them. They also help provide extra support and stability when carrying a heavy load. Not to mention that they are practically essential for a frameless tent setup.


Camp shoes, water shoes, sandals, slippers: It is nice to have something to slip your feet into once you reach camp. Maybe it’s a pair of crocs or flip-flops. Some people even pack slippers. Another optional second pair of footwear would be a pair of water shoes for river crossings. If it’s a sandy bottom, then you can go barefoot but none of the rivers I cross ever seem to be sandy. I like something that can be dual-purpose such as a sandal with a heel strap that can function as both a camp shoe and a water shoe. Many people like crocs for this reason.  If you are using sandals for river crossing just be sure that they have a heel strap and that it is secured, otherwise the current can easily sweep them off your feet and downriver, never to be seen again, at least not by you. Xero Shoes has some great ultra-lightweight sandal options that could function as both a camp shoe and a water shoe. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are a cheap option, but they are reasonably priced. There are certainly much, much more expensive options out there. If you just want cheap and light, get a pair of no-name water shoes off of Amazon. Another ultra-light ultra-cheap hack for camp shoes is to use bread bags. Yes, bread bags. Once you get to where you set up camp, slip off those shoes and those nasty socks, slip on a nice dry warm pair of socks and then slip them into the bread bags and you're good to go, just be careful not to tear the bag.


Gloves: A decent lightweight pair of gloves can be quite nice in cooler temperatures. Angela carries her bow-hunting gloves from Walmart on every cooler weather hike. 


Backpacking pillow: This has become a must-have item for me. For years I just used either my clothing bag or my puffy coat as a pillow. Last year I purchased an inflatable pillow (Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow - ALUFT 2.0) and I haven’t looked back. It is so much more supportive and comfortable and has led to much better sleep.


Neck gaiter  AKA Buff AKA face shield: A simple tube of fabric with multiple uses. It's kinda like a thneed from the Lorax. Depending on the material it can either help keep you cool or warm, offers sun protection, bug protection, use it as a hand towel, or to wipe condensation from the inside of your tent, or as a sweat rag or and added usage in the era of Covid it will get you into stores and public places. I’m not as crazy about them as some but I will admit they do come in handy. I have a cooling one that I use in warm temps and a thermal one that is nice for when it's super cold. There are a variety of materials. Again avoid cotton, and as with just about anything else you can't go wrong with merino wool or a wool/synthetic blend.


Gaiters: Now that we’ve covered neck gaiters let's cover regular gaiters. Gaiters are a cylindrical piece of water-resistant fabric that straps to your shoe and up your calf protecting your ankles and helping keep debris out of your shoes. They come in handy in muddy or snowy terrain. They can also offer protection when trekking through thorny underbrush such as wild strawberries.  Honestly, I’ve never used them but I have been in some situations where I wish I has a set and I have come close to purchasing a pair on several occasions. Buuttt I’m cheap and as useful as they can be I just wouldn’t actually use them all that often.


Clips, straps, and carabiners: This can be summed up by saying things that are used to attach other things to your pack. They come in handy but don’t have so many dangling off your pack that it looks like a combination between a Christmas tree and a charm bracelet. Those little black binder clips are useful for hanging socks or other clothing items off your pack so that they can dry while you hike….that is assuming that it isn’t raining…if it is raining I would advise against it.  


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