When you hear the word luxury, what comes to mind? For some it could be 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, others would consider a fine wine, an expensive car or maybe a beach vacation. Luxury is a subjective term and everyone we meet has their own definition of the word. It’s always fun to see how each individuals’ standards change over the course of a few days of doing ‘without’ in the backcountry. Suddenly scrubbing your hands with some gravel and salt water - while drying wet socks over a smoky campfire is equally satisfying as a bubble bath by candlelight.
In the months and weeks leading up to the hike we are in frequent contact with each guest and provide lists of what to bring, how to pack properly, and how heavy each pack should be. Our instructions are detailed and comprehensive, to ensure the proper amount, and quality of items are included, and we strongly discourage over-packing or bringing too many ‘extras’ to limit the weight of each pack.
Try as we might though, almost every hiker ends up with a little something extra snuck into a hidden pocket of their bag, something they just can’t live without and refuse to leave behind. Over the years these sneaky little add-ons have lovingly become known as ‘luxury items’.
With every kilometre covered on the trail little secrets and personality traits tend to be revealed amongst our group members. One thing that I find particularly interesting is discovering what kind of luxury items each person brings along. Of course, in the backcountry the term “luxury” takes on a whole new meaning. Some common items have been razors, lipstick, shower caps and mini board games. But we’ve also had guests go as far as army cots, exotic fruit, nail polish, and specialty cheese!
I always like to play little games around the campfire when guiding a group on the trail, and one of my favourites is to have each guest reveal their own luxury item, or see if they can guess any of the other group member’s articles of indulgence. It’s a fun activity to learn more about each hiker’s life, and what their personal values are. Sometimes the item has a cultural or spiritual significance, sometimes it’s a reminder of a loved one at home, maybe a little bit of vanity, or simply a sweet treat that they can’t live without! Any way you look at it, there is always a story behind it and whatever each hiker hides in their pack is a little symbol of who they are and what makes them unique. That’s what I love about hiking with a group, all the little idiosyncrasies of each person that create a dynamic and a bond that could not be replicated in any other situation or setting.
My luxury is nothing fancy, usually chewing gum, mints, and a special chocolate that you won’t find me sharing! If you happened to see me out on the trail in the summer of 2018 though, months after giving birth to our son, you may have noticed I was carrying an extra special “luxury” item that you’ve likely never seen in the backcountry before…any guesses?
Do you have an unusual piece of gear that you always bring with you on hiking trips? What's the strangest thing you've seen someone pull out of their backpack? We think we’ve seen it all, then again every year someone always surprises us!
- Talia Page (Owner - BCA Tours)