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11 Cheap Gear Alternatives Thru-Hikers Love

It sounds silly, but you can lighten your pack a lot by trading out heavy gear for garbage. Here are some low-cost accessories thru-hikers swear by.

Yeah, having the latest and greatest gear is nice. But you know what’s even nicer? Saving that cash and putting it toward the hike of your dreams. With a little ingenuity, you can turn that well-loved Goodwill gear, the bargain-bin Target purchase, or even your recycling into equipment that performs on the trail. Start with these 11 thru-hiker hacks, and get creative from there. —The Editors

A SmartWater bottle (instead of a Nalgene)

Disposable bottles weigh 1/4 as much as Nalgenes, cost about 1/18th as much, and come with a free drink. A lot of hikers also prefer SmartWater bottles because they fit on a Sawyer filter (arguably the most popular water filter), and because their tall, skinny design makes them more packable. But they aren’t as durable as Nalgenes and you can’t do the old ‘boiling water in a bottle’ trick to heat up your sleeping bag on a chilly night—unless you want melted plastic and water in your bag.

Read more cheap gear alternatives thru-hikers love, written by Maggie Chuckles Wallace here.


May 7, 2022

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Of all the creepy crawlers, ticks keep me on high alert. They can be very tiny in the nymph stage and difficult to see. They love to hang out in tall grasses along the trail and hitch a ride on hikers passing by. I plan on treating most of my clothes and gear with Sawyer Permethrin.

Joanne Gigliotti


Ultra-compact and lightweight

House Grail
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I would often just drink directly from the sawyer squeeze if I was feeling lazy- which by the way works wonderfully.

Rachel McVittie