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Hiking with Plush Animals

Stuffed Penguin on West Kill Summit, Catskills
Stuffed Penguin on West Kill Summit, Catskills

I often bring along a plush (we used to call them stuffed) animal when I go hiking. A surprising number of other hikers and backpackers do this as well.

Why? Well it started as a prank that my wife would play on me when I was off backpacking for the weekend. She’s sneak a stuffed animal into my pack as a companion. After awhile, it became kind of a ritual. Different plush animals would come on different hikes and mountaineering trips, and now it’s a full blown tradition.

Conrad the Plush Leopard in the Catskills
Conrad the Plush Leopard in the Catskills

Those among you who are ultralight fanatics are probably aghast at this admission. But I know some other hard core hikers who bring along everything from plush bears to pigs with them when they go one backpacking trips.

Honestly, bringing along a plush animal can be a great comfort especially when you’re alone in the the middle of nowhere and it’s dark and pouring rain outside your tent. Plus knowing that you need to bring them home warm and dry, limits some of the risks you might otherwise take, if you were completely alone.

So fess up – how many of you studs actually bring along a stuffed friend on your hikes?


  1. My small pig, Little Peewiglet, accompanies me on trips across Scotland :)

  2. This might help in escaping bear encounters, as a last resort of course. Gives you time to run away from the confused bear.

  3. That pig is famous, worldwide!

  4. I did this on my attempted Thru-hike in 1998, took pictures with it and sent them and post cards to my cousins class who were tracking their traveling "bears" :) when I left the trail a friend hiker "Townsmen" took over for me. And that class had a bear who thru-hiked the AT. THe class had a great time plotting his course on the map I sent from GA.

  5. I started carrying Piggy, my round stuffed friend. He loves going on trips!

  6. Our crew took a plush dog toy to Philmont as a mascot. He survived, even after taking a couple of bullets at the black powder rifle range.

    You can see Charlie (the mascot) in this photo if you look at the largest size. He's a "hot dog", complete with a streak of mustard.

  7. I carry a small 2" Pooh in my "catch-all" ditty sack. Being in there guarantees it is always with me.

    It has special meaning because my future wife and I found it at the Old Man in the Mtns viewing site in July 2000. I took this trip after I lost my brother the month before. This was a great trip to help me reflect. It also reminds me of the last time I saw the Old Man.

  8. I bring my real life dog. He's mostly afraid of water too, so while I cross streams, he's hesitant. It's kind of like I need to keep him dry.

  9. I have never done this before but couldn't you bring one along as not only company but as a small pillow?

  10. I carry Miss Bunny with me. Miss Bunny is a smaller version of a sock bunny that my ex-wife made for my (then) 5 year-old son. He was concerned that I would be lonely on camping trips without Mommy. Miss Bunny has done the LT, the Allagash and been all over the world with me. She is 4" tall, to the tip of her long ears, and hasn't grown in the 23 years she has been in my pack.

  11. Mark – love it! She must also like snowshoeing on the LT.

    Chris – the large pets do serve double duty as pillows. Multi-use plush at work!

  12. I can't say that I have brought a plush on a hike before but it definitely merits a try. Anything that keeps you level minded when your out in the middle of nowhere should be kept with you always. Even if its a plush! :)

  13. Interesting. I never would have thought of this.

  14. I take a 5 inch Winnie the Pooh plush on each operational deployment… So far it's done a tour of East Timor and two tours of Afghanistan.

    … Can draw some strange looks from the uninitiated, but a lot of guys do something similar.

  15. I have a very small fleece hare that instantly cheers me up when I find her in the dry bag with the sleeping stuff. I have a fleece mouse when on international travel for work just in case they check my bags at the airport.

  16. I keep a Monarch butterfly on one shoulder strap and, to ward off predators with errant ideas, a lynx in the outside pocket of my pack. LOL

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