Lightweight, luxury, consumables for a hiker?
June 16, 2016 12:06 AM   Subscribe

You've been hiking for 2 months and this is only the beginning. Internet service is intermittent, but not uncommon. You reach a town and pick up your resupply box from the post office. Inside are the essential vitamins, energy bars, crackers, and sriracha packets you loaded it with. The person who mailed the box added something extra that brightens your day. What is it?

I'm sending resupply boxes for a friend on the PCT.

I'm adding hand written notes from people he knows, but I also want to include interesting or useful treats.

This isn't his first multi-month hike, so the basics are taken care of. Similarly, I can't expect anything I send to hang around in his pack for more than a couple days. Not even the letters.

I can (and will) browse local (Los Angeles) ethnic markets for snacks that can be consumed and/or shared right away. I'm interested in hearing ideas from people who have done long distance backpacking, or know of a specific, amazing "just-add-water" product I'd probably overlook.
posted by itesser to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
M&Ms -- one bag plain, one bag peanut. (This was the most delicious thing on Day 6 of backpacking.)
posted by mochapickle at 12:19 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Dried squid could be a nice alternative to beef jerky, and I'm sure it can be found in LA!
posted by gemutlichkeit at 12:20 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chocolate. Chocolate is always good. Also, I go apeshit over those Taste of Thai Peanut Noodles for camping food. Something with a big flavor is amazing after bland hiking food, it packs light, and never goes bad.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:02 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Bhujia. So good. If they like sriracha they are going to freak out over this stuff. It's lightweight, keeps well, is awesome on its own as a snack, or as something to sprinkle on bland trail food. MUCH SPICEY. SO FLAVOR.
posted by ananci at 1:57 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

BooooOOOoOooooze! It doesn't gotta be lightweight, they can drink it while they read the letters and then get back on the trail. IANAL.
posted by ftm at 1:59 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

posted by Jubey at 2:04 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Dobbel pakke doodles = Extreme happiness (SLYT- be sure to click the cc icon for captions :)
posted by iiniisfree at 2:53 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Throw in a few silica gel packs that you have hanging around from other shipments. They are light and disposable and will help dry out things overnight. And this might be too heavy but they can pass it on; if they like sriracha some sansho might shake things up. It's a different kind of spicy--not chile hot but tingly/buzzy hot.
posted by Gotanda at 3:12 AM on June 16, 2016

Bandaids and/or those blister-specific bandaids. Nobody ever packs enough bandaids, and then you end up taping/double-socking/generally feeling less comfortable at points because you are rationing. Put some in the middle-of-the-trail pack and it is most likely he will be grateful.
posted by scrittore at 4:24 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nice fresh non-worn-out socks.
A new bandanna - maybe a fun color or design.
New underwear.
Candied ginger.
A tube of really good moisturizer - like Eucerin.
Something home-baked, maybe brownies. Like the booze, they can share it with others at the mail drop before they get going again.
posted by Miko at 4:42 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

New Darn Tough wool socks for sure.
posted by advicepig at 4:50 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

A nug of weed. Is that wrong?
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:04 AM on June 16, 2016 [13 favorites]

Some version of Snapea Crisps. Light, and they come in a variety of sizes and flavors, and are available at lots of grocery stores.

I've gotten brownies from Greyston Bakery at Whole Foods (they also have some you can order online). They are really good and individually wrapped/stable for shipping if packed carefully. You can't go wrong throwing a couple of them into the box.
posted by gudrun at 5:50 AM on June 16, 2016

I like the idea of some kind of luxury chocolate bar that's maybe loaded with fruit/nuts. Tasty AND practical!
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:21 AM on June 16, 2016

Okay, you're gonna laugh, but: People Magazine. I did an extensive off-the-grid trip (in Africa) and a couple months into it I was in a place that weirdly had a stack of these mags. It was a delightful and hilarious way to check in with what was going on in pop culture.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

How about an envelope pre-stamped and addressed to his home address? That way he could mail home to himself any notes he's received that he'd like to keep, but doesn't want to carry.
posted by msbubbaclees at 6:35 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Keep in mind most hikers live off things like M&Ms, chocolate and nuts. It's easy to get quite sick of them, even the good stuff.

Some good suggestions so far are new socks and new underwear, but unless you know their preferred brand it's probably best not to pick one. Hikers, especially long distance hikers, get picky about that sort of thing. You don't want to give them a pair of underwear that has a seam that will be directly under the pack hip belt and then they're cursing you and your underwear ten miles from nowhere. Even the very best socks (I am wearing Darn Tough Socks as I type this) might be hated by a hiker for Reasons. This probably sounds very silly to a non-hiker but trust me on that. You wouldn't buy a new glove for a major league baseball player.

I always crave salt after a hike, so a big bag of really good potato chips would be welcome. Nice and light if you need to carry it but can also be consumed before even leaving the post office.

A small flask of really good scotch or another favorite beverage.

I like the weed suggestion but that's problematic in the mail and chances are your friend has access to all the weed they need via other hikers on the trail.

A small book of silly comics, like a Far Side or Calvin and Hobbes book. It will be left behind in a shelter, because you're not going to carry a book very far, but then other hikers will get to enjoy it. Write some notes in it.

People Magazine or other silly things that are completely out of place in the woods are a good idea.

Home baked goods. Brownies or cookies.
posted by bondcliff at 6:37 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

The best 'trail magic' I encountered while doing a bit of hiking on the AT was a note in a shelter that said "Remainder of 6 pack tied to rock in stream behind right cornerstone, Enjoy!".

So, what I'm saying is maybe send him a whole six pack (cans not bottles!) that he can consume at his luxurious leisure, share with companions/strangers, or leave behind with a note to brighten someone else's day.

Maybe a yo-yo so he can enjoy a novel toy for a bit. Ditto any other small toy/puzzle that might entertain/engage him while traveling.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:46 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, oh! A bag of lemon drops! So good with cold water.
posted by mochapickle at 8:12 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did an extended bike tour a while back. I got cautious about what I put into my body (no deep-fried food, very little alcohol, etc) because I didn't want it slowing me down, and I naturally lost my taste for that kind of thing during the tour. So my diet became pretty dull.

Any kind of weird snack food that you're not likely to find on the road would be good. Salty, sweet, spicy, whatever. Most energy bars are naturally on the sweet side, so something not-sweet might be better. I would not want to have been saddled with a six-pack, but a hip flask of whiskey might not have gone awry.
posted by adamrice at 8:32 AM on June 16, 2016

jinx, iiniisfree!

I, too, came to post cheese doodles.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:11 AM on June 16, 2016

A flask of whiskey or whatever their favorite booze is.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:27 AM on June 16, 2016

I agree that people get preferences for particular styles socks and underwear, but also know from experience that after 6 weeks on the trail you don't care that much because your socks are shredding. If you get a new pair that chafes while you walk, they just make good camp underwear/socks to change into. You can just almost never have enough fresh undergarments.

Best advice: just have a conversation about what brands/styles the person likes before they leave (if they in fact even know at that point - it's something you learn as you go), and plan to drop a couple in every new box so they can just discard the old ones if they want.
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on June 16, 2016

Ooh, a harmonica.
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on June 16, 2016

Your hiker might not have discovered these energy bars yet K'ul. They are a luxury item. The intro pack might be a nice addition to the box.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:26 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks, guys!

Some good ideas here. High quality chocolate and high quality potato chips are good tips. The trail goes through plenty of places with convenience stores and small grocery stores, so I'm sure he has plenty of access to common types, but, duh, the point is to send something uncommon.

Pop culture magazine is a curious idea, but it will probably suit his style better if I raid my zine library instead.
posted by itesser at 9:21 PM on June 16, 2016

Are you from a place with Trader Joe's? The peanut butter pretzels are what I'd be craving on a hike.
posted by slidell at 9:33 PM on June 16, 2016

I came to say something similar to msbubbaclees: send a self-addressed stamped envelope with each resupply box. He can send back notes he'd like to keep, as well as other small souvenirs. Also include a shopping/request list for the next resupply (and a golf pencil to fill it out?). Have a checklist: "In the next box, do you want: [] M&Ms [] fresh socks [] pop magazine [] beer (etc. etc.) [] other _______"
posted by attercoppe at 7:21 AM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

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