Normally with every gear choice there comes sacrifice: Cheap or Light? Comfort or Deadweight? These are the little choices we make every time we assemble our kit, balancing weight and our wallets, and determining if bringing that extra lantern for a cozy camp is worth the weight on the trail. That’s why I get so excited over the little things–those tricks and fixes that offer outstanding comfort, utility, versatility, at no cost or weight.
And there is none better than the Reflectix pad.
The little pad you see above–cut from a car window shade, reinforced with duct tape (you can buy ‘em at any Walmart or auto shop, but veteran savers always hit up Ollies for their camping needs)–has been on A LOT of adventures. Whether backpacking, climbing, or just dirt-bagging it in Chateau le Goat (my car), the reflectix pad always has a place in my kit.
It’s main use is to offer you a pad to sit/stand on so you don’t get dirty and wet, and the reflective nature of it does offer a little warmth. While I’m not fancy enough to carry an inflatable sit pad with me, I do often want a dry butt. And when changing my clothes or my boots, I dread the weird shuffle dance one invariably does to keep mud and rocks off your clean socks or feet. When I’m in my hammock, it goes right underneath so I can step down and stay dry no matter what, and when tarping it or sleeping in the bivy it goes under my bag’s footbox to lengthen my pad. When on the trail, it gets stuffed away in a waterbottle pocket with a Nalgene, always ready to come to my aid.
And–as with most things–there’s the McGuyver factor that must be considered. I’ve used it as a pot grabber, as a mug coozy to keep my tea warm on subzero winter nights, and as a pad to fill in gaps on cool nights in my hammock. I imagine you could use it as a rescue signal too, should it come to that, but try to avoid that (I hear helicopter rides are expensive nowadays).
For almost no cost and no weight, little weightless comforts like this go a long way when you’re roughing it!
Written by Chris, who has to change his pants in strange places often, many of which are not ideal for touching the ground/floor/truck-stop-bathroom-floOR-OH-GOD-IS-THAT-URINE?!-WHY-IS-THERE-SO-MUCH-URINE-ON-THIS-FLOOR?! with bare feet.