There are lots of camp gear lists that tell you what “you need”.
Unfortunately many include these three large and bulky items that add extra weight and hassle on the trail. Worst of all, you don’t need them.
1. Pack Cover
Most quality packs today are made of a water-proof or water-resistant fabric. They are rarely seam sealed and thus few are “water-proof”, so why is a pack cover not needed?
Firstly the quality pack will shed the water, but small amounts could creep into the pack on these crazy rainy days, but generally work well on light rain and short downpours. So I recommend a pack-liner like Nylofume by TerrainUL or lightweight weather-proof stuff sacks inside the pack. I use a Zpack stuff sack for my tent, another one for my clothing, and Zpack dry bags for my sleeping quilt. I like my tent to be in a weather-proof bag, not to protect it from water, but rather to protect the contents of my pack from a wet tent.
You will never fuss with taking a pack cover out whenever it threatens to rain, and nor re-packing a wet and heavy pack cover after the rain is over. A well-packed pack is easier, lighter and more trouble-free than a pack cover.
2. Foot Print
Groundsheets or Footprints are designed mostly to protect the bottom of your precious tent – and they will. The question is, is it needed and if needed, by how much? Plus is it worth the extra weight and hassle?
My experience says NO footprint.
I have camped for weeks in a tent with a lightweight 10-denier SilNylon floor (Gossamer Gear – the One) on the rocky Bruce Trail and the Adirondacks Mountains. No ground sheet and no problem. Hundreds of days on the Great Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail with a “fragile” Dyneema tent… no ground sheet, no problem. Plus decades in Tarptents, Sierra Design, Zpacks, Gossamer Gear, Nemo, Big Agnes and MSR… never a problem.
Perhaps I’m just lucky, but experience yells at me – don’t bring a footprint.
3. Camp Shoes
Super comfy at camp. But again not needed.
The only time I wish I had a pair of “camp shoes” is at the end of rainy wet and cold days. On those days, a dry pair of shoes with clean socks would have been sweet. Yet most often on those does, I would generally through myself into my tent sheltered from the rain, and curl up on my warm, dry quilt to read a book. My wet shoes stay in the vestibule.
I have carried camp shoes for so many days and never used them, so eventually, I stopped bringing them and never looked back.
Camp shoes are bulky, difficult to pack and often heavy (relatively)… so experience yelling at me once again, I leave my camp shoes at home. Dudley’s choice
VIDEO – 3 things you DON’T need backpacking ▷
It’s really up to you.
I heard folks claim these items are essential, and “it’s irresponsible” of me to advocate leaving them behind. Again it’s your choice, but my experience has proven that camp shoes are nice, but not essential. Footprints protect your tent for sure, but most tents and eco-systems don’t need them. Finally, a quality well-packed pack doesn’t need a pack cover.
More stuff on the trail means more hassle and more weight… so if I don’t need it, I choose to leave it behind.