Fast Packing

5:35 p.m. on January 18, 2010 (EST)
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I liked the idea of separating different kinds of gear into colored stuff sacks and each pocket had different kinds of stuff. Then my mom wanted to spend some money on my wife and I and we asked her if she'd buy us new backpacks. My wife got a TNF pack with just one big pocket and a big stuff sack that went into it. You could leave the main body of the pack outside in the snow and pull the liner sack into the tent. WOW. I actually hated the colored stuff sacks and decided that all I really needed was a big sack with a top pocket for keys wallet tp lighters etc.

There are times when being able to pack up and leave in ten minutes matters. Like when a 500 pound bear walks through your camp or a blizzard hits. On one snowy trip I told my friend, a slow packer, to holler at me in the morning when he had everything in his pack and was ready to get out of his tent. When he did, I rolled out of my bag, pressed the warm air out of it and shoved it into the bottom of my pack. I pulled on my jacket and packlite pants over long underwear, deflated my down air mattress and shoved it into the pack. The I pulled on my boots and stuffed everything else into the pack and crawled out of my tent. I yanked the stakes and rolled the tent and put it into its over sized stuff sack, lashed it on the back of my pack, hoisted it and walked over to my buddies place where he was still packing up his tent.

I should have waited a while before rolling out of the sack, I got cold waiting for him. If you can jump up and go you don't need to put on warm layers, you just put on hiking clothes, otherwise you have to stop half a mile up the trail to take off your insulating layers and adjust your hiking clothes. My friend told me that he would spend as much as 40 hours preparing for a canping trip, longer than we were often out for. I think he used a list, but he never took less than 50 to 60 pounds of stuff, so he "would be prepared". I save all the weight of stuff sacks, in fact the only stuff sack I every carry is the sort of thick one that my stove came in, and the one for my tent.

Jim S

8:04 p.m. on January 18, 2010 (EST)
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This is something I had trouble with for a long time, and something I wish to discuss, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

I used to be so bad I would dump everything back out if I discovered I had not put something in it's 'proper' place.

6:39 p.m. on January 19, 2010 (EST)
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Got more time today,

I used to be chronically methodical about packing my pack, I attribute a lot of that to thinking there was some sort of 'absolute right way' to do it, mostly because I had read it someplace. I would be the last one ready to break camp in the mornings, with the others asking if they could help in some way.

I remember thinking to myself: "There's no way I'm letting those guys pack my gear after watching them cram their stuff like that! How do they find anything?"

More than once while packing up I remember unrolling my tent to double check to make sure I had zipped all the doors, panels, and flaps.

I just couldn't wrap my head around how someone could pay for good gear, and then just cram it in their pack like they had no sense of organization at all. I was so organized!

Well, after several years of packing up this way I slowly realized I was being too picky, and too concerned about things that didn't matter really. At first I almost had to make myself be a sloppy packer, I actually had to put effort into being lazy, go figure.

I simply had too many categories, all bagged up in nylon sacks, and I had a special way to pack it all that I would not deviate from.

In the past 3-4 years I have consolidated my gear into just a few categories. I have combined my First Aid kit with my backup / emergency gear all in one small plastic container and that goes in the lid of my pack. I have combined my toiletries kit with my cooking kit and that has worked out well for me. I still keep a small amount of toilet paper handy in an outer pocket with my map and compass, funny how sometimes when you stop to take a break and look at the map or trail guide you also get the urge to go.

I also am experimenting with the idea of wrapping my Ridgerest pad around my tent before putting it in a new bigger sack, I think this will work for me and save time, giving me one item instead of two for packing purposes. I can take the new larger sack for the tent & pad and now use it as a bear bag, thus eliminating a sack. I line my bear bags with a heavy trash bag so transferring odor to the tent should not be a problem. Any thoughts you guys might have on that would be welcome.

Anyway...that's where I'm headed. Fewer nylon sacks & fewer categories of gear to be packed separately because I'm too tempted to be overly organized. For me being organized is like a hobby, it comes in handy at work, but gets in the way of packing fast.

Am I the only one?

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks Jim for bringing this up!

9:15 p.m. on January 20, 2010 (EST)
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Trout, I simply would not camp with you sorry. I suppose you put right foot socks on the right side of your bag and vice versa? Giggle. Do you iron your underwear too, and FOLD it? Anyway I noted your comment

********************

"I just couldn't wrap my head around how someone could pay for good gear, and then just cram it in their pack like they had no sense of organization at all."
*********************************I get it Trout. When I finally got an expensive goretex jacket I had to really take care of it. Then you get a few more pieces of gear and they all have to come on each trip because you spent a lot of money on each. After a while they aren't so shiny and you suddenly have three jackets five tents, three sleeping bags and six stoves. Now you can't take everything and what you leave at home is more important than what you take. Then you realise that if you left half of the other stuff at home your pack would be lighter and you never used half of that expensive gear anyway, and it takes less organisation. By then its a bit worn and it becomes "the stuff you take cause you need it" not the very expensive gear that you have to take care of when you go camping because its all you have. It becomes like a dirty scratched old 4x4 that you can drive through brush and not worry vs never taking the new 4x4 anywhere that it can get dirty. When it dawns on you that you do not need all of that stuff and being able to find what you actually need when you want it is more important than carrying everything you own, you learn to carry a handful of bomber gear and just cram it in the pack. When you get to camp you pitch your tent and pour it all out. Anything that has to be organised or immediately available is in the top pocket of your pack and there's a photon mini light permanently attached to the top pocket so you can find stuff including your headlight. If you have so much stuff that it takes hours to put it into bags, you have too much stuff. Its not about the gear, its about having fun with the least complexity you can.Jim

11:20 a.m. on January 21, 2010 (EST)
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I respectfully disagree. Based on my own experiences I would say that organization helps dramatically. I am all for organization and taking care of gear. I believe that just because a tent is "bombproof" doesn't mean you have to drop a bomb on it. All of my gear is laid out on a shelf so I can see at a glance what I have and what I'll need for my coming trip. I organize my gear in different bags based on its use or the time I might need it. All my cooking stuff in one bag, water treatment in another, and fire-starting and cleaning in another. It's nice to know that if I need my lighter it's in the blue bag etc. I keep my tent organized and my pack organized. In the morning it takes me all of 10 minutes to pack everything up. I try to take the best care of my gear that I can. I clean everything after I get home that includes hanging up the tent and sleeping bag, washing the cook kit, and doing the laundry. Call me anal. Maybe I am but after the small fortune I spent on gear I think it's fine. I'd like to get the most use out of my gear as I can. After two years of nearly continuous use my gear still looks brand new.

That is just what works for me. I've tried it both ways and this is what I've found works. On the other hand I have a buddy that does exactly what I do but he takes nearly a hour to get packed in the mornings. What a great way to start your day...

By the way Jim, I'm the kind of guy that buys the new 4x4, takes it off-roading then drives back into town and washes it off. I'm not above getting dirty every once in awhile.

2:30 p.m. on January 22, 2010 (EST)
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MLuna

I'm glad you get out in your 4x4. :->

I've been thinking about this. We've had the discussion fold or roll your tent? I think its agreed that folding on the same lines is bad, causes the waterproof layers to come off. Some manufacturers recommended stuffing your tent, I prefer to flip the edges over and roll, but its always random, and then I put the tent into its stuff sack, which is the only stuff sack I use besides the one for the stove because it has sharp edges.

As far as sleeping bags, I would never use a stuff sack or especially a compression sack on my WM sleeping bag or marmot sleeping bags with goretex or dryloft shells. They are 15 to 20 years old and just about like new and I attribute some of that to never stuffing them into a stuff sack.

Besides that my pack IS one big stuff sack so I push my sleeping bag into the bottom with down air mattress, down jacket, pillow, socks and other clothes, and fuel bottles and then press it all in with my feet. I don't think using separate stuff sacks is less damaging, in fact I think small stuff sacks are more damaging. Then my food - in a plastic grocery store bag goes in on top of the soft stuff, with the stove next to it in its bag. My goretex rain shells and water bottle go on top where I can get to them and the lid closes. The stuff in the pack expands to fill the space, and everything I really need to find goes into the top pocket. I have a net bag in the top with little things that might get lost and a photon flashlight permanently attached to the top pocket so I can always find a light.

So anyway I don't think my method of packing is less respectable to my gear, probably better for it than a lot of little sacks. I also carry very few individual pieces of gear, maybe half as many individual items as a lot of campers, so I do not require organisation to find it.

Jim S

5:19 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
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It sounds like Mluna is talking about staying organized on two different levels. One is being organized on the trail and the other is being organized at home where you keep your gear when it's not in use.

At home I am definitely on board with keeping my stuff clean, organized and un-stuffed (I even keep my tent hung up until my roommates start to complain).

However on the trail everything changes. My sleeping bag, tent, and the rest of the lot gets thrown in so that it is compact. I think that is a good compromise. Quality gear will last a long time if it's taken care of off the trail. It can take a beating for a week at a time every once in a while and still be fine.

8:48 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
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... It becomes like a dirty scratched old 4x4 that you can drive through brush and not worry vs never taking the new 4x4 anywhere that it can get dirty....

Jim,

You may recall that one of my volunteer jobs with the local Boy Scout Council is Forestry Chair (we have 2 camp properties in the Santa Cruz Mountains, each with about 300 acres of redwoods that we are required by Calif State Law to "maintain a healthy forest" and to keep the fuel load down so that CalFire - new name for CDF since you moved to Oregon). We have a certified professional forester (CPF) who does the actual preparation of the paperwork and all the formalities of the paperwork. Joe's practice when he buys a new replacement 4x4 is to drive it up to a logging road, find a big stick, and smack several strategic places on the body work to christen it. Then he doesn't feel bad when the inevitable scratches, dents, mud, and dust are deposited in the normal process of his job.

Our current 4x4 was christened in the parking lot in Utah by an unknown other vehicle during a major blizzard, with a second christening by my tele skis deciding they did not like to be leaned against the side of the vehicle, thence describing a perfect arc as they slid down the side, pivoting about the heel of the skis.

On extended expeditions that I go on, first thing is that I take the minimum I have to have. This means that the only changes of clothing I have are the 2 pair of long johns (light for the lower, warmer part of the hill, and expedition weight for the mid part, using both for the cold summit day) and 3 sets of socks (one for the climb to high camp, one for summit day, and a clean dry set for the descent and exit). The insulating layers (including down parka and down pants) and WW layer (eVent jacket and bibs) aren't changes, but additions as I go up and put back in the pack as I go down. There are some duplicate items - extra gloves and mittens, extra balaclava (actually there are 2, a light one and a heavy one, so not really an extra), and an extra pair of goggles or glacier glasses.

Organization of the pack - the clothing not being worn, eating utensil (yes, singular), and such get shoved in the pack body, with sleeping bag (has to be in a compression sack, since it wouldn't fit otherwise) and inflatable in the "sleeping bag compartment" along with the spare gloves and mittens that I may need to get to quickly, and the foam pad and tent share (you always split the tent with your tent partners) get strapped to the outside. Food and cook gear (and other group gear) either goes in the sled or shoved wherever it fits in the pack.

Yes, on the trek, the tent gets stuffed into the stuff sack - that's by far the fastest way to get it down and into the bag when the wind is blowing 30 knots. Same with getting the sleeping bag packed in the morning. You move more slowly at 17,000 feet, but you can still get all 3 of you in the tent up and packed in 20-30 minutes, including eating breakfast, with an extra 10 minutes for getting crampons on and into harness (the rope and climbing harness). One of the main things is that you only have something out of the pack (or duffel when you are hauling the extra 50-60 pounds of food, fuel, etc on the sled) when it is actually being used. Otherwise it gets put away immediately.

But the tent, pads, sleeping bags, etc get opened to dry thoroughly when getting home. and the sleeping bag stored in a large "laundry bag", not stuffed.

9:58 a.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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I think it takes a healthy combination of both. Do you want to be organized enough that the weight is distributed evenly throughout the pack? Yes. Do you want to be so obsessive compulsive about it that every little thing needs to be in a particular order and arrangement and it takes that much time away from the trail? Not in my world. I know the expense of a lot of this gear we collect, but it's also meant to be used for a specific purpose. I agree with EVRNjayhawker's philosophy.

At the same time, the world of obsession compulsion is also why I'll never be an ultralight backpacker. I respect the fact that if that's someone's interest then so be it. But personally I just can't get into trying to shave every little ounce off every little thing.

1:42 p.m. on February 25, 2010 (EST)
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At home, I have a 4-drawer unit:

- Top: 1st aid, survival, electronics, map/compass equipt., lighting
- 2nd: Water & drinking such as filters, collapsing bottles, etc.
- 3rd: Tenting/sleeping items such as cords, brooms, spare stakes
- 4th: cooking & eating

On the trail, I group in major categories:

- Sleep ware: such as silk pj's, thin socks, cap, lights. Nice to slip in clean items
- Kitchen:, try to put in bear can
- navigation: maps, compass, scales, pipe cleaner (for bending around map lines to measure), reading
- Clothing: packeted in 1-day units
- On-hike: drinking, snacks
- Health care: sunscreen, lip care, hand wipes/sanitizer, potty paper
- 1st aid, foot care

3:45 p.m. on February 26, 2010 (EST)
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I think it takes a healthy combination of both. Do you want to be organized enough that the weight is distributed evenly throughout the pack? Yes. Do you want to be so obsessive compulsive about it that every little thing needs to be in a particular order and arrangement and it takes that much time away from the trail? Not in my world. I know the expense of a lot of this gear we collect, but it's also meant to be used for a specific purpose. I agree with EVRNjayhawker's philosophy.

At the same time, the world of obsession compulsion is also why I'll never be an ultralight backpacker. I respect the fact that if that's someone's interest then so be it. But personally I just can't get into trying to shave every little ounce off every little thing.

You get my vote rocklion!I have been storm bound with obsessive annal folks and was ready to bury him in the mountains!I think the question here is to make shure that who ever you chose as a partner for climbing,skiing or backpacking you need someone generally on the same page.ymmv

10:18 p.m. on March 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I wanted to reply to this thread, but when attempting to organize my thoughts on paper, realized there were many angles to the topic, each with it own list of attending details. Before I knew it the outline I jotted down to guide my writing was two pages long. At that point I realized my comments were too verbose, and no one would have enough free time to read it, not to mention ponder a response.

SoInsteadIJustPostedMyResponseAsAStreamOfConscious,Random lyEnteringOneThoughtAfterAnotherWithMinimumStructure.ButThisH adDrawBacksToo,TheLackOfOrderRemindedMeOfAttemptingToRetr ieveMyDownJacketFromMyPackWhenIWasDeleriousFromHypother mia.VeryConfusing.ThusIConcurOrderIsDesireable,AsIsSpeed.NowI PackExpressoToAidSpeed,ButContinueToGoAboutPackingInAStruct uredManner,SoIWillBeLessConfusedDiggingThroughMyKitNextTimeT heRiggorsOfTrekkingHaveMeAddleBrainedAndExhausted.
Ed

12:25 a.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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hah hah hah (:->) [grinning] I am amused at the responses, I think whomeworry may be a bit too anal (:->) and skimanjohn I can relate fer sure. (:->)

While I do take very careful care of my stuff and it seems to last forever, its just stuff and I mostly just stuff it, into a big single compartment pack. It doesn't seem to hurt it, it never cries out at least. But the point is, its just the stuff I take along to help me enjoy my time out in the woods and, folding it away carefully would be like folding tee shirts - wouldn't it??? I mean they work so well when you just pick one up out of the pile of freshly laundered clothes in the corner of my room, you know the pile of clean socks, underwear and tee shirts, besides it saves time and drawer space so I can put my "junk" in them. (:->)

Jim S

2:14 a.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Jim:
I am whack, but not anal! My post was primarily for laughs. We camp mostly to have fun. If one is irritated by the pace of fellow campers doing the various things we do out on the trail, then perhaps use this as criteria when selecting pals for the next outings.

But I did mean to imply order sometimes is a good thing; regardless I generally pack with minimal order. My hypothermia story was real. When pushed to the very edge, one gets so addle brained it is hard to tell the difference between a poncho and ground cloth. I have also seen hikers so exhausted they were unable to find their cook kit, even though they were holding it in their hand. Thus if I may add my two cents: order is a personal issue, but becomes a necessity when group safety depends on it, or when the itinerary imposes extraordinary physical or environmental demands.

Ed

9:51 a.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I didn't spend time reading all the posts, but to respond to your original post Jim, couldn't you have stayed warm by simply helping your friend pack up his stuff?


As far as all the other posts ( I just skimmed through). I agree with Rocklion completely.

2:12 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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im going to attempt a 220 mi hike shore to shore in Michigan this summer. im 65 and in good shape. ive been walking 2hrs a day for 15 mos. ive never backpacked any advice is welcome

7:11 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Bobby Bruce:

Get a weighted pack incorporated into your walks, using the footwear you intend to employ.
Ed

10:12 p.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Bobby,

There's a lot of good information here and at other forums. READ all you can. ASK questions, we will assist you. (:->) After all there are many very experienced people in this group, in fact it is top heavy with experts, all of whom have separate and distinct methods. I guess I want to say - there's a million ways of doing things wrong, and a dozen or so totally different ways of doing anything right.

I would say though, keep it light and simple. Do not start off with the thought "how much cool gear can I get into my pack?, instead start with "How little cool gear is just enough?"

Jim S

Whome? With less gear, organisation becomes much simpler. I carry very few individual items as I find it infuriating to not be able to find the right piece in a pile of stuff, much of which is unnecessary. Everything is either in the top pocket, or the main pocket of my pack, and when I set up my tent, the pack goes into the left side along with any "gear", with the flash lights and necessary items near the door on the left side, and all clothing items go on the right side. At that point the lighter goes into a right hand side coat pocket, and I collect all of the cooking gear into one pile and lay it out on one of those blown plastic grocery store food bags. BTW I carry my food in these bags too and use them to haul out my garbage or around my socks as vapor barriers.

When I pack, the sleeping bag and pillow go in first, then warm "camp clothes" then any misc, then food, water filter and cooking itms and then on top are rain shells and finally my foam pad strapped under the top pocket. Though I carry my food inside my pack and I leave my tooth paste etc in the top poket, I have NEVER had a bear or any other animal come after any of it.

Jim S

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