Odds and endsThere's nothing more frustrating than leaving an item in my pack after settling down for the night. Unzip the sleeping bag, stumble around in the dark, poke into the dark recesses of my pack for what you need. That led to the Camp Bag.
The Camp Bag is a gallon ziplock bag that holds all the things I may want once I've settled in for the night. When I'm setting up camp all I have to do is pull it out and toss it by my sleeping bag and what I need is right there, in one place. Over the years the contents have become pretty set: ear plugs and BreathRight strips (I snore, and I don't want to listen to other snorers), my headlamp, a small AM/FM/WB radio with earphones, my iPhone charger, a paperback book, and a deck of cards. Originally I kept these items in a small stuff sack, but the clear bag makes it easier to find what you need right away.
I usually take a lot of photos and videos when I hike. You can see some of the hiking videos I've made on my YouTube Channel. While some prefer their iPhone, I'd rather keep mine turned off and packed away except for my evening text message to Carmel. So I take a small Panasonic "rugged" point-and-shoot camera. With a spare battery I've got plenty of backup power. For self-portraits I have small tripod, or I can attach it to my hiking pole with a rubber band.
Finally, one of my favorite backpacking hacks is a chunk of windshield reflector. It folds up small but gives you something dry to sit on, or can be put underneath your sleeping pad for some extra insulation. I've even pulled it into my sleeping bag to help capture heat on cold nights -- works surprisingly well for that! I often take a mylar space blanket too. It's handy to have for emergencies, and as a marathon runner, I've gotten plenty of them at the finish line.
Next time -- the completed pack and the final checklist.