Where do you put your cell phone? Where do you put your wallet? Where do you put all the odds and ends that accumulate on a thru-hike? Where do you put your food? Well, there is a product out there, that hits the highest of quality standards of protection for all of these items. This product can hold poured out boxes of macaroni and cheese to condense the space in your pack. This product can hold the same macaroni and cheese empty packet of powdered sprinkled nectar from the gods once it is painfully empty, just as your soul has become. It is hard to express how many times we have licked the inside of a mac and cheese packet to get any sliver left of the powdered cheese-by product that tastes as if we were licking Olympus itself. As if the concept of all the Greek Gods were condensed into this cheese packet, which they were.... Yet, we digress! It can hold all of your electronics. It can hold anything that is loose in your pack and bring it home into a snug and compact pouch! We are not talking about a dry bag, which while great for this purpose as well, is limited in its capacity of uses. We of course are talking about the limitless uses of the Plastic Bag!
Is it the contents of the bag that hold all of our hopes and dreams or is it the bag itself?
Hiker Philosophy 101!
Empty Greek God cheese packets aside, plastic bags can hold anything that your mind is creative enough to fill it with. It is a pouch for your dreams, a pouch for your hopes, and a pouch to fill with your love manifested into physical form such as mac and cheese. As it fills, it in return fills you with overflowing happiness! The versatility of a plastic bag is infinite! It is overlooked many times when prepping for a hike, yet it is one of the most essential pieces of gear. Pick your Ziploc, go generic, go name brand, go homemade? Any way you chose, you will be adding an element to your hike that is essential!
Hikers have found literally infinite amount of uses for plastic bags. We have seen necklaces carried in some, pennies and nickels carried in some (not recommended super heavy!), electronics of all varieties, and then we have seen a hiker stare into the emptiness of a plastic bag that used to be filled with food and shed tears as their heart is broken again. Due to the uses and versatility of plastic bags being infinite it also means that the highs and lows of a plastic bag are also infinite. You will be filled with joy and love when they are filled. Then when the inevitable time comes near the end of a section, and you find yourself licking the Greek God dust of mac and cheese dust off of the inside, you will find yourself being the same hiker looking through that clear and transparent plastic bag as if you look hard enough and deep enough it will fill again. It is empty and now so is your soul, so shed a tear with us, shed many tears, it is okay to share in this consistent love and loss cycle, we understand it, there is no shame in having love and lost. "It is better to have love and lost, than never have loved at all."
Yet, that is exactly what we have to do over and over and over again, with the love of plastic bags! Truly a hiker story of love and loss constantly!
Okay, we are done with describing our heart feelings around a plastic bag in this article, we will never be done living them daily. You have heard enough, let us now describe what you are actually here for, why it is such a critical piece of a thru-hikers kit. First and foremost we will describe its uses for food. A plastic bag will not replace a food bag that holds the entirety of your food for a section, but it will help you immensely in packing that food bag. It lets you open up your versatility of food choices that you may have not thought of before. Now when resupplying, when you begin to go through the boxed sections of food in the aisles, you no longer have to skip them because they could not possibly fit in your pack! Grab those (5) boxes of Greek God Love from the shelf that manifested itself into the Spicy Sharp Cheddar variety, we love when they show us their love with this manifestation! Grab a big bag of candy that is clunky and weirdly shaped off the shelf knowing your candy cravings will be satiated. Grab the hot dogs from the cooler section, knowing in your heart they will become slimy and quite ripe eventually, but hoping and believing this time will be different, this time your meat bag will not go rancid!
Quick Disclaimer: Do not pack out a combined variety of meats into a single plastic bag and think you are a genius for saving all those fractions of centimeters of space in your pack! It will become rancid, you will try to eat it, you will become nauseous and sick, it will smell like death itself, and then being a hiker you will try to eat it again. Of course, this does not come from personal experience we would never be that beautifully creative and unfortunately sickly wrong. Definitely, definitely, definitely telling a story for a friend... If we say definitely one more time will you believe us???
We digressed again, but it was an important digression. Do not pack out a meat bag combination, it will be a vicious cycle of sadness and upset stomachs! So, you have now opened your variety of the resupply to include items you would not believe normally would fit into your pack. you grabbed (4) Family Size bags of chips and have to consolidate those somehow as well. When you get back to your motel or hostel you now get to have the joy of filling up your soul and those plastic bags you picked up as well! Pouring the mac and cheese into separate sandwich bags they now become easy to carry. Pouring the candy all into one giant gallon bag now gives you the ability to carry limitless candy! Well, we have tried, wish it were so, but your imagination and your poor back problems are the limit! You can now condense all the chips and squish them into manageable mouthfuls of crumbs to inhale as you hike. You can even use the plastic bag as a funnel for inhalation, it is not only a carrying device but a glorious tool, again options are limitless! You can now pack any food you wish, loose doughnuts, leftover pizza, sandwiches, and if you are brave and your soul is strong enough, yes even a meat bag of glory that turns into a meat bag of pain and sadness!
Where Mac N' Cheese Dust is Made!
Will not picture where Rancid Meat Bags are made....
Now let us get into the 2nd most important reason for plastic bags. Now all the food is gone, you have eaten your entire resupply almost in the first night of a five day section. (again not recommended, definitely a friend wanted us to let you know this...) You now need a place to consolidate all the wrappers and your tears. The same plastic bags that held all your food can now be re-used! Fill them up with your trash, your hopes and your dreams for a regular diet on this section, and make sure not to liter as your soul is littered in the wrappers before you and in the forms of an entire cookie bag eaten in (1) night. Your partner will also not appreciate a cookie bag consumption so quickly because your body protests in many ways. Yet, you now have a vehicle with which to carry out all your trash. It makes it incredibly convenient when cleaning out your pack when passing a trash can, or when you get to the next resupply. Simply pull out the bag full of wrappers as your stomach grumbles after not having eaten anything in a few days since you ate it all the first, and smile knowing you will refill those bags soon, with love, hope, and yes even food!
Okay, we have gotten lost in how much we love plastic bags for the use around food and trash, but what else? Well, you can use them as a dry bag. Or if you love your dry bag, as we do, you can use them as an extra layer of protection. Dry bags have failed on us many times with their clasps, yet for some reason, simple plastic and Ziplocs have upheld to more extreme weather than their fancy counterparts. Put your chargers in one to isolate the wires that are important. Put your wallet and odds and ends in another to make sure all your essentials are in one place. Put emergency Vitamin-I in another along with an extra O-ring or two for back-up. Build your dream Miscellaneous Bag with the limitless options that plastic bags provide!
Depending on your method and preference of documenting or not documenting your journey plastic bags can even be the highest quality camera bags! They are in high demand and top quality, in fact they are so rare, we have been lucky enough to be able to get these heavy duty camera cases on back order. We know a guy, if you need, but don't go spreading this information, there will not be enough to go around, they are hand made, fine-tuned, artfully crafted, it takes years to make even the single perfect one. We have been blessed to find ourselves in the situation that plastic bags have saved our camera countless times. Without the plastic bag we would have replaced multiple cameras at this point. Put aside the waterproof aspect, but the lens protection, the shock-proof (don't drop a camera in a plastic bag... not actually shock-proof), the ease of opening the case, they truly are the best fit for our needs.
We are beyond "GLAD" to have these containers for our soul!
"GLAD"... get it?!?
As you can tell, we have a lot of emotion and love around plastic bags. Okay, we have a lot of emotion and love in general as you know at this point that may just be who we are, but plastic bags really are a hiker necessity. They consolidate when consolidation is needed. They protect when protection is needed. They stop from littering which is beyond a necessity! They cut down on pack mess and embrace the hiker disorganization. They are easy to replace physically, but sadly never emotionally. They hold the glue that held together our bodies on the GDT, the taste, essence and manifestation of Olympus in a bag. They hold all of our hopes, dreams, and love in each section in the form of all of our necessities. They hold our tears, sadness, and stomach grumbles when they are as empty as we are in the section. That snap of the Ziploc as it closes and holds all of you inside, is a symphony of sound, a melody of music, and chords of comfort. We will always continue to experience love and loss in this beautifully vicious cycle which is the life of plastic bags. We are filling up our plastic bags as we speak with love, happiness, joy, freedom, and hope as hiking season nears. Fill them with us!
With Essence of Olympus stuck in our facial hair from licking the bag
DISCLAIMER: Do not know why we chose Greek Gods to compare to mac and cheese, but it felt right, and we stand behind it. If you have made it this far in this article and all of our articles, you may know we have the tendency for weird metaphors!