Backpacking Games

Whether it’s bad weather, or the end of a long day on your feet, or bugs that force you into shelter, unwinding with a game may be the perfect way to spend the evening. But what games should you pack? Forget bulky board games, think cards, or better yet, dice.

Hiking day is done! (Photo: Megan Kopp)


It’s a deceptively simple dice game that can be played with two or more – all you need is five dice, a pen or pencil and a piece of paper. Each player takes a turn rolling the dice. You need a total of 750 points to get on the board. Dice are scored as follows:

  • every 5 = 50
  • every 1 = 100
  • Three of a kind (in one throw) = 100 times the number on the dice (e.g. three 3’s = 300). The only exception to this are 1’s. Three 1’s = 1000.
  • Four of a kind (in one throw) = double the three of a kind (e.g. four 3’s = 600).
  • Five of a kind (in one throw, should you have horseshoes up your…) = four times the three of a kind (e.g. five 3’s = 1200).
  • A straight (1,2,3,4,5 or 2,3,4,5,6) = 500.

On one roll, you must always keep at least one scoring die. Set aside and roll again (as many times as you can, as long as you keep at least one scoring dice aside). If all 5 dice are scoring, then you may roll all again.

If you don’t not roll a scoring die, then you lose your turn.

Once you have got on the board with 750 points (in on turn), then you may keep any score you choose (e.g. 2 1’s = 200 or 2 5’s + 3 1’s = 400). Your goal is to be the first to reach 10,000 points.

If another player scores a large hand, you may choose to roll the remaining non-scoring dice to add to their score for yourself (e.g if they roll 600 with three 6’s in one roll and take that amount, you may roll the remaining two dice. If you rolla 1, for example, you now have 700, which you can keep or choose to roll the remaining dice).

And here’s the kicker, when one person gets close to 10,000, they must roll exactly the right amount. If they roll more than the amount needed to reach 10,000, they lose their turn. If they roll exactly the right amount, everyone else gets one more turn to try and reach 10,000. If they reach 10,000, they knock the first person out of contention.

What’s your favorite backcountry dice or card game?

© 2011

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