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The Best Multi-Use Hiking Accessories

The Best Multi-Use Hiking Accessories

Every hiker wants to travel light. Long, hard expeditions don’t get any easier when heavy but necessary gear weighs you down. When it comes to lightening your load, versatility is the name of the game—you want everything you bring with you to serve as many purposes as possible. If you can condense your supplies into the barest of necessities, you’ll move with ease up the mountains and through the woods and still have everything you truly need. Here are a few of the best multi-use hiking accessories that will help you whittle down your list.

Your Smartphone

We understand that you may want to go truly off the grid for this sort of activity. However, there’s no denying the versatility of our modern technology. You don’t have to play games on your phone while you’re mid-expedition—in fact, that would be a pretty sad use of your time. But for mapping, GPS, photography, and even journaling, having all these things in one pocket goes a long way toward a leaner and meaner hike. So be smart—pack your phone.


Originating in the Arab world, the shemagh is the familiar headscarf that found its utility in the harsh and dusty deserts of the Middle East. As Western armies took hold in the region, they also took note of the shemagh’s usefulness and reimagined it as a highly versatile piece of equipment. Protection from whipping winds, a wadded-up ersatz pillow, even a handy water-filtration device—a military-grade shemagh scarf can do all this and more. This simple piece of thick, heavy-duty fabric can even take the place of some of your first-aid supplies by working as a makeshift bandage or sling.


A Swiss Army knife on steroids, the multi-tool condenses an entire toolkit into one pocket-sized accessory. Your tweezers, scissors, saw, pliers, and knife all combine into one piece of equipment that does it all. To truly streamline the contents of your backpack, bring this along.

Baking Soda

Good old sodium bicarbonate, found not at some specialized outdoor outfitter but in the baking aisle of your grocery store, is one of the best multi-use hiking accessories you can pack. By forming a paste with water, it acts as an effective toothpaste, an itch reliever, and a useful abrasive for cleaning out your well-used pots and bottles. The best thing about a box of baking soda is that it doesn’t just find so many uses on the trails, but it does so at mere pennies a box.