What to pack for *after* the trip.
Most of us have our gear checklist prior to an outdoor trip.
Be it with a mental checklist, old fashion pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet, we all like to make sure we have the proper gear, clothing and food packed for an upcoming trip.
But oddly enough, something I’ve noticed is that people tend to forget to pack for after the trip.
Some clothing and gear for after the trip is not important?
Consider this scenario:
A group of backpackers arrive at the trail head after five days in the woods. They are in their dirty shorts or pants, wearing technical shirts that reeks of stale sweat and have shoes that are muddy and damp. The drive back home may be long.
One person in the group, however, reaches into the trunk of the car and pulls out a duffle bag. He discreetly goes to the trees near a creek and looks like he is sponging off. A towel is stowed in the duffle that our prepared hiker uses to dry off.
The muddy shoes are exchanged for sandals. The nylon pants are exchanged for cargo shorts. And the technical shirt is taken off and replaced with a favorite cotton t-shirt. After five days of wide-brimmed hat head, the prepared hiker also throws on a ball cap.
Our hiker makes his way back to the group who look on with envy.
The same prepared hiker pulls a small cooler out of the trunk. The beer and soft drinks inside are still cold. He shares them with his grateful friends and they enjoy a relaxing time kicking back a bit before the drive home.
I’ve noticed people who are less experienced don’t necessarily think of packing some extra clothing and gear for after the trip. I’ve found that over the years, a few creatures comforts after a day, a weekend or many days in the backcountry make for a relaxing transition back to the “real world”. Rather than rushing back in dirty and smelly clothes, having some comfy cotton and a cooler of cold drinks post-trip extends the good vibes a little bit. The time post-trip is relaxing and makes the drive back home with its bills, work schedule and other every day problems a lot more tolerable.
A t-shirt my friends made for me. 🙂
Here are some items I’ve found that work well for the post-trip.
- A towel: Listen to Doug Adams and bring a towel. Many trail heads are conveniently located next to a creek. Discreetly sponge off with a bandanna or even a packed wash cloth. Removing the salts and sweat always feels great and goes a long way to making you cleaner before you can take a proper shower.
- Change of clothes: A simple thing that is often overlooked. Take off those muddy trail runners, pants and sweat soaked and salt encrusted shirt for sandals, shorts and a cotton t-shirt. I also like to pack a ball cap that is never worn hiking. Not only are you a bit more presentable for the post-trip nosh, but you feel a lot better, too.
- Warm hat and gloves: For winter trips, a hat and gloves worm only for post-trip is great. A wet hat, even if it dries quickly, does not work very well when sitting still for the ride back. A nice warm and dry hat always feels good after a day of winter fun.
- Cooler: some post-hike cold drinks are always nice. Even after a few days, I find a good cooler will keep the drinks cold. If driving, may want to really savor that one beer or have soft drinks only. 🙂
- Camp chairs: Portable enough to throw in the trunk and make the post-trip relaxing even more enjoyable
- Post- trip feast at the trailhead: I love a good burger and beer after a trip. But many times the trailhead itself is a great place to kick back. The trailhead areas often have picnic tables, sometimes a good view and later in the afternoon they are usually quiet. On a few occasions, a small grill was packed and we cooked up some burgers at the trailhead. Throw in some side dishes such as potato salad and a great way to wind down the weekend is enjoyed. Sometimes family and other friends would even join us.
So pack for the trip. But don’t forget to pack for the post trip, too!