During my camping trip on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal there were a couple of items each day that we found ourselves thankful for having brought along. The two particular items are not a normal part of my commute, however they were very helpful for the challenges posed by camping.
First off was a "space blanket" a friend brought a long. One of the main purposes that we did not need the blanket for was for keeping warm. If you are sleeping in a hammock and it gets cold, it is nice to have some insulation. But since it was summer we had no worries about getting cold, quite the opposite.
What the blanket was great for was setting up and breaking down camp each day. It rained heavily quite a few times during our trip and it was nice to have a surface to throw things on that would keep away dirt, grime, mud, leaves, etc. When we arrived at a site each day we would toss the blanket on the ground and toss all of our stuff out on it. And the bonus of course is that these things are light and not difficult to carry.
And when we went to sleep each night, we tossed the blanket over our bikes and bags to keep rain away. This was important for one friend as he was rocking a Brooks saddle and they are not supposed to get rained on.
The second item was a parking brake. There are many different ways to keep your bike from moving (see here for a past entry on the topic) but on our trip a friend had a simple strap with a plastic buckle. When you have a bike with tons of stuff on it and you want to get into a bag to find something, you definitely don't want to be fighting your bike. You want to be able to lean it up against something and be confident that it is not going to move on you. This little strap fit the bill perfectly and came in quite handy. We simply looped it around the down tube and the front tire and Voilà!
One item that I would highly recommend taking on a long trip that I did not take was a handlebar bag. A friend on the trip had one and I was consistently jealous. His cell phone, camera, and food were always right at his finger tips, but all of my stuff was in bags on the back of my bike. For long trips in the future, a handlebar bag is definitely an item I am going to take along.
Do have utility item recommendations for camping or other long bike trips? Feel free to share in comments.