Anyone who’s ever slept outside can attest that your tent quickly becomes your home. And that’s true whether escaping into the woods is on your regular weekend rotation, or your version of ‘away from it all’ is posting up in a festival parking lot (hey—you do you, friend). I myself fall somewhere in between, and while the thought of bringing embroidered pillows and paper lanterns along makes my eyes twinkle, my pack weight vetoes the excess every time. Relentless in my efforts to spiff up my setup, I’ve brainstormed, tested, and verified that the below items serve more of a purpose than simply to look snazzy.
These battery-powered babies are legit long-lasting (we’re talking 70-ish hours) and undeniably festive. You can imagine my delight when an Appalachian Trail through-hiking veteran known as B-man endorsed this pick, paired with anecdotal evidence that when you hang a set or two of these in a tree at night, two great things are destined to go down: closeby campers are grateful to you for the chance to ditch their headlamps and party people bring you beer. Hear, hear!
Other than the obvious benefit of bringing blessings your way with each waft of the wind, pieces these flags can act as blister bandages when your hiking shoes turn on you. Happens to the best of us. Even if you aren’t using them for makeshift first aid, they make for a great campsite marker when you’re situated in a tent city—plus, a 10-flag strand weighs a whopping 0.3 oz.
Sounds like a superfluous accessory, but it’s anything but. A tapestry makes for a top-notch picnic blanket, sheet for sleeping, shield from the sun when hung, and cloak to keep your back from gettin’ too chilly while you’re crouched around the campfire. I keep a few safety pins permanently on the corners of mine, but clothespins are a good hanging option, too.
This is an undeniably handy tool to have around for those unexpected equipment repairs, clothing malfunctions, desperate tie-the-tarp-down-it’s-raining moments, and bear bag hanging adventures. Here’s where the fun part comes in: it provides the opportunity for friendship bracelet making, too! Even the fellas can get involved—these bracelets have some real grit to ‘em.
Okay, so maybe this one doesn’t have a hidden function that makes it totally worth toting, but, to me, an escape without music would feel utterly incomplete. Ukuleles get extra credit points for being more portable, quieter, and a tad easier to play than guitars, so they keep everyone happy—the carrier, the neighboring camper, and of course, the player.
My parting words to you, spoken by the aforementioned B-man himself, is to remember: the goal is to live, not to survive. Let yourself have a little fun with your stay in the world’s greatest open-air hotel!
Words by Christen Russo, Photos by Jesse Clifton.
Christen is a smile collector, outdoors enthusiast, and appreciator of soggy French fries based in Pittsburgh, PA. She finds inspiration in the veins of leaves, the subtle squeaks of guitar strings against their player’s fingertips, the train-whistle soundtrack of city life, and the seet quiet that can be found at farmers’ markets. See what she’s seeing.
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