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I quite often run into fellow backpackers during my hikes and enjoy chatting with them about where they're from and what they're doing, the usual trail chit-chat. A lot of the time our conversations include discussions about the current hike and conditions along the trail, where to find water and areas to avoid if necessary, sharing information with fellow hikers is one of the best parts of meeting people along the trail, in my opinion. However, on more than one recent occasion (too often, in fact) the conversation has included the seemingly innocent question of "so, where are we on the trail - any idea?" To which I am always shocked and usually ask, "don't you carry a map and a compass?" This elicits several knee-jerk responses, the most frequent being, "yes, but I'm not exactly sure how to use the compass," along with a sheepish grin. Inside my head I'm thinking, "then why are you carrying it and how on earth do you navigate your position?"
The ongoing trend in the consumer market of providing small, ready-to-go, individual size packages of consumables has been a win-win for the lightweight and ultralight backpacking communities. Always looking to shave a few extra ounces or grams off of our overall pack weight, these individual servings are the perfect fit for trail snacks, drinks, condiments - you name it. However, these nicely packaged individual servings can come at a premium.