You know when you're packing for a trip and trying not to bring TOO much gear - but there's that one thing you bring even though it's a luxury?
Here's our staff picks: the things that almost always make it into our packs.
Kevin - espresso maker
Why does an espresso maker always come on my trips? If you understand espresso, nothing else needs to be said. - Kevin
Jeff - hammock
Canoe trips are not just about hardship and suffering. They should include sublime pleasures such as relaxing in a hammock with a good book or a fishing rod. I have successfully enjoyed my hammock throughout both ski season and paddle season. - Jeff
Edith - folding chair
A simple folding camp chair always comes on my trips. Sitting on stumps is not as comfortable as it used to be! Being able to lean back after a day paddling is a real treat. Not only this, but these chairs double as doormats for your tent, flat surfaces to lay out your lunch or change your kid's diaper on, and pads on the bottom of the canoe for dogs or passengers. They also slide into a pack nicely and provide padding against your back. Love them! - Edith
Brennen - canoe seat
I really like something to brace against while I'm paddling. I also have had injuries to my back and I like the support while fishing or taking a break. It feels good to be able to lean back a little. - Brennen
Sarah - a real book
I'd have to say I always enjoy bringing a real paperback book - no matter the type of trip. World travel, kayak tripping, car camping, hiking; there's just something about being able to read a few pages while going to bed or laying in a hammock or taking a break in the afternoon. Plus: chocolate. Goes without saying. - Sarah
Bryan - Helinox chair
I like to relax, and this chair is so light and strong and packable it goes everywhere with me. Whether it's having lunch, fishing, cooling my feet in the lake or taking wildlife photographs, this chair is one of my favourite pieces of gear. - Bryan
Alison - trekking poles
Once a luxury, now essential! Trekking poles take weight off my legs and save my knees when I'm hiking, especially when carrying weight. They make traveling across loose rock and scree much easier and it's nice to have the extra balance points crossing streams. - Alison
Marcus - frozen Platypus bottle
I always bring a frozen platypus bottle or two on any trip where I'm not overly concerned about weight. I started doing this as a packable way to keep fresh food and meat cold, however the luxury comes in day 2-4 of a hot trip when I still have refreshing cold water. - Marcus
Steph - a bug jacket and Nutella
Both of these keep you sane! A bug jacket is a must in many places at certain times of the year. And whenever you need a break, sitting down with a jar of Nutella always makes things better. -Steph
John - dutch oven
A Dutch oven is very versatile. With its even heat distribution, the pot itself is great for simmering chili, soups, stews, and other one-pot meals or for cranking up the heat to make a quick stir-fry. But the biggest advantage a Dutch oven brings is the 'oven' part: put some coals on top of the lid and now you can bake bannock, bread, brownies, cheese biscuits, fruit crisps, pizza, pudding cakes, etc. Then there are all the options for taking simple recipes to the next level: make a pot of chili and bake some cornbread on the top, brown the cheese on top of a breakfast scramble, or add some crunch to the top of a shepherd's pie.
At under 4 lbs for the 10" size, aluminum Dutch ovens weigh only about 1/3 as much as their traditional cast iron cousins. By dehydrating some of your menu items (pasta sauce is a prime target), you can reduce the weight of your food to compensate for that wonderful chunk of aluminum in your pack. Ultralight backpacking cookware and canister stoves have their place, but on a canoe trip where an extra pound here or there isn't the end of the world, it sure is nice to leave the instant oatmeal on the store shelf and make some 'real' food in a Dutch oven over a fire instead! - John