Gear in Review: 11th Essential Options for Outdoor Stewardship

On April 22, 2020 we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. It’s hard to believe that even with this annual reminder that our beautiful blue marble in the universe needs special care, we continue to struggle with the impact we have on it. Notably now the impacts of our presence are being laid bare with our current normal of staying home. So what is a person to do? Well, there is plenty. From minimizing what you consume in the first place to making the choice to be a steward for the environment in your own neighborhood and on your favorite trails, there are lots of options.

The ways you can do this and the tools that can be used are pretty simple. Granted right now, it’s important to be more thoughtful about how and what you pick up to stay safe and healthy. I’ll breakdown some of my favorite stewardship gear here. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But I’ll get to that in a bit. Here are some options for what to gather the trash in as you make an effort to keep things naturally wild on trails near and far.


This small but mighty reusable bag is a workhorse that I’ve turned to time and time again for hauling everything from my own camp trash to nasty items left behind by others on the trails. It’s specially made for the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, is made from a tough fabric with a rolltop that seals in the nasty smells and can be washed out over and over again.

Where to find it: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

What does it cost?: $14.95 per bag plus applicable tax and shipping


My favorite things about this are that I’m not adding to the amount of garbage with another bag and that rolltop is pretty sweet when there is something smelly that needs to be packed out.


It’s just never big enough for the urban hikes and trailhead garbage I find. I’d love to have one the size of my 20L backpack.

Photo of a man holding a bunch of Granite Gear Tough Sacks while waiting to weigh them. There is is a group of women surrounding him. They are standing in a park in the summer.


The Granite Gear Tough Sack lives up to its name and is the cleanup bag of choice for The Groundskeepers and many others. It’s a multi-purpose sack that is made from a tough 70 denier rip-stop with a white pigmented coating. They can be found in eight different sizes which is really helpful for those places where you are finding a large amount of trash. I chose to keep mine as my dry sack in my daypack because of the light interior that makes it easy to see the contents inside. Those that use it for their stewardship activities tell me it’s a sturdy cleanup tool that doesn’t leak when you are picking up the messiest of messes.

Where to find it: Granite Gear

What does it cost?: $8.95 – $16.95 per bag (depending on size) plus applicable tax and shipping


It’s a sturdy piece of gear that keeps the crud contained. I love this brand and the work that they are doing to both make great gear and to help keep our trails cleaned up.


What’s not to love? For me this is a pretty nice piece of gear to be filling with trash. But, hey, you gotta use what you like to keep yourself motivated.


Let’s face it, not everyone wants to spend money on fancy bags. That is completely OK. Some of my favorite clean up hikes have been rather serendiptous in that I found a bag along the way or that I brought a bag I’d emptied from a different purpose. Think about the single use plastic bags that you collect and instead of tossing them out, give them a second life as a garbage bag.


We all have them and there really isn’t really a cost to using them. Getting more than one use out of a single use item is a win no matter how you look at it!


Depending on the previous use and the type of bag, be wary of holes or rips. Don’t overstuff them or you’ll have a bigger mess to cleanup.

So what else do you need? I have a pair of work gloves that are rubber coated, but you can grab a pair of leather gloves too. Just having something protecting your hands from crud and germs is important.

Bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer along. And if you want to keep your hands away from the yuck even more a grabber or reacher is a helpful too. You don’t have to spend a lot to get one that works for most purposes. Do a quick search on any of your favorite shopping platforms and you’ll find a wealth of options.

For more information on how you can leave it better head on over to Let’s Talk Trash For A Minute for thoughts, resources and more to help you leave our Blue Marble a bit better.

Photo of a group of hikers on a sunny day in a field heading towards a wooded area. The photographer has taken the photo from behind the group.

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