Sometimes the trail can get a little boring. Blasphemous, I know.
Okay, maybe it’s not boring, but it’s definitely safe to say that at times it can be monotonous. You may get to your campsite after a long day of hiking, and just want to eat and sleep. But what about those other nights, you know, when you have a little energy?
Here are some great options to keep you entertained while you sit around that campfire.
1. Deck of Cards
The average weight of a deck of cards is about 3.3oz. Although space and weight are precious things to a backpacker, a deck of cards can provide entertainment whenever the trip gets a little too mundane. Whether it be blackjack, rummy, or a good old round of go-fish, cards offer a variety of games while weighing very little.
Weighing in at about 7oz, e-readers are the heaviest option on this list. Even though they may pack on a few more ounces, these handy little things can provide entertainment for your entire trip, no matter how long. Since they are able to hold essentially a library of books, e-readers may actually save you weight. Instead of throwing that thick paperback book into your bag, think about bringing an e-reader. Most of these readers can hold a battery charge for almost a month, but depending on the length of your trip you may have to bring a solar-powered charger.
Whether it’s sitting in your tent under the stars or hiking up a steep climb, you may just want a little background music to set the mood. Weighing in at around 3.5oz, this is a fairly common item for long-distance backpackers to have. There’s something about music that speaks to most people–and it can be hard to live without it. So if you want to bring music on the trail with you, maybe think about bringing the iPod mini, which plays music without the weight.
4. Crosswords or Sudoku
If you rip these out of a newspaper or a game book and stick them into a plastic bag, they weigh essentially nothing. Both of these games can help stimulate your mind during a more mundane part of your trip and provide hours of entertainment.
Although a frisbee can weigh up to 6oz, sometimes it’s a nice add-on to bring and toss around. Either leisurely throw it around camp after a long day or make a fast-paced game out of it. It’s a nice way to unwind and sometimes it’s a great way to meet some trail friends because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like frisbee?
6. Trail Journal
Another popular item, trail journals can weigh around 6oz, though they can definitely be lighter depending on how they’re made. A journal is a great way to reflect on your day and keep a record of your trip. Names of people you’ve met, wildlife you’ve seen, and experiences that will one day become great stories–you don’t want to forget any of these things! Not only does it help store memories, it gives you something to do at the end of the day.
7. Verbal Games
Verbal games are a great way to stay entertained without having to carry any extra weight. As a plus, it keeps you interacting with your group. The name game is a fun one–one person says a name (Abraham Lincoln) and the next person has to come up with a famous name starting with either the first letter of the first name or the first letter of the last name (Anastasia or Lady Gaga). Categories works too–pick a category (NFL football teams) and list as many things under that category as you can (Giants, Jets, Falcons, etc.).
8. Build Your Own
Once you get to your site, build your own game. Draw a checkerboard in the dirt and use rocks as pieces, or find a hollow log and some rocks and play washers. That way, you’ll have plenty of entertainment with no additional weight. If you choose to create your own games, though, remember the golden rule: Leave No Trace! If you draw something in the dirt, erase it before you leave, or if you pick up a rock or a log, put it back where you found it.
Check out the area you’re in! Oftentimes, nature has plenty of entertainment right there for you. Take a look around and enjoy your surroundings–that’s what you’re backpacking for, right? Again, remember to Leave No Trace!
10. Just Be
Perhaps just sitting back, watching the fire, and talking with a few friends is enough to entertain you. It’s totally understandable to bring a few items with you for entertainment, but remember why you’re out in the wilderness in the first place. Enjoy the company of the people you’re with, enjoy your surroundings, and enjoy being unplugged for a while. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite form of lightweight trail entertainment?