212: PLAY: Games on the Trail

Show Notes: Episode 212

Today on the First 40 Miles,  who says you can’t have type one fun and type two fun on a backpacking trip?  Today’s episode explores games on the trail and how to make memories without bringing Monopoly.  You’ll learn 5 super fast, super fun games that you can play on  your next wilderness backpacking adventure or use to break the ice at your next board meeting.  Then, we’ll review a love it or hate it nano game that, for mere grams, will earn its spot in your pack.


  • Why games?
  • Diversion, make memories, pass the time, springboard for conversation and connection.
  • If you’re thinking, I’d never bring Monopoly or Risk with me on the trail, then it’s time to think outside the box.
  • Lots of games are UL, nano games, micro games, card games, dice games, physical games, mind games, pencil and paper games, feats of strength games, balance games, conversation games.

Top 5 Super Quick Games to Play on the Trail

Fortune Cookie

  • Two or more players
  • Your goal is to build a fortune that you might find in a fortune cookie, one word at a time.
  • Sample round
  • Winner/loser? You could say person who says last word loses.

Spoken Song Lyrics

  • Hello darkness, my old friend
  • Like a walk in the rain
  • Life is but a dream

Rotten Penny

  • Two or more players
  • Get a pile of pebbles (or you can even use pinecones)
  • Each player may take 1, 2, or 3 pebbles
  • The person to take the last pebble loses.


  • Two player
  • Each say a word—any word!
  • What do those words have in common? Figure it out then you both say another word
  • Trying to get to the point where you say the same word at the same time


  • Two person game
  • Walrus
  • Walrus blight of 2004
  • Scientist who worked feverishly to save the last walrus on the earth
  • What’s going to take out the scientist?

SUMMIT Gear Review: Win Lose or Banana


  • 3 cards: win, lose, banana
  • Win card must reveal her card, but the other two must try to convince the person with the win card that they are the banana. After much persuasion, the person with the win card makes the call.


  • Win, lose, or banana cards


  • Mere grams…


  • If you want to keep the cards clean, get sleeve protectors for them


  • $1


  • We played this with Steve one night on the PCT.
  • Quick, ridiculous game.  No brain needed.  Over before it gets obnoxious.
  • Similar to an out of print game by ButtonShy Games called Wildcats. (Good cat, bad cat, wild cat)
  • NOTE: If you like nanogames, there’s also a one card game called Ninja

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  UL Card Table

  • Sometimes you need a surface for playing cards. Just something to keep things clean and from sliding around
  • The dollar store has thin plastic cutting boards
  • Perfect card table for backpacking
  • UL, multi-use, cheap

Trail Wisdom

“Play is the highest form of research.”
—Albert Einstein

If you’re looking for fun backpacking books and merch, check out thefirst40miles.com/shop.