packing clothing

2:23 p.m. on November 1, 2008 (EDT)
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Anyone have any advice on packing clothing for backpacking trips. In the past I have used Zip lock bags and rolled the air out of them to save space. I am wondering if there are better alternitives?

3:01 p.m. on November 1, 2008 (EDT)
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Several companies make "compressor" bags (not the same thing as the sleeping bag compression stuff sacks). In another thread here on Trailspace, I listed a couple URLs that described these. Eagle Creek and Outdoor Products make them, among many others. Look on the Eagle Creek site http://www.eaglecreek.com/accessories/compression_bags/ then click on any of the packages, and go to the enlarged comparison photos to see how this works. The way these work, you fold the clothes enough to put them inside the bag (there are multiple sizes), zip the closure, then roll from the closure toward the "bottom" of the bag. The bags have a 1-way valve that lets the air out. I have used these bags on international and expedition travel and found that fleece and down compress very well, then rebound nicely when taken out of the bag. These are sort of like a ziplock, but the closure is much stronger. I find that the ziplocks will let loose if you stuff them into your pack. However, the ziplocks work well enough to pack everything separately inside your pack to keep things waterproof if you don't try shoving too much into one of them (use 1 ziplock per item, works best for me). Silcoat dry bags work ok, as well, but it is a lot harder to squeeze the air out, then try to close them with one hand while the other hand is trying to hold things compressed. The Pack-Its get around that with the 1-way valve.

7:10 a.m. on November 2, 2008 (EST)
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We all have different ways of doing the packing, and we all swear that to be the best. However there are certain basics to the job.

First order. There must be a system that makes you find the thing you want when you want it.
Second ease of packing. As all backpacks are long the most effective is that the things you pack are also in long tubular packs. That way it adopts to the tubular shape of the backpack.

Myself I pack in these netbags http://bergans.no/sider/start_produkter.asp I have a number of them in different sizes, but the one shown is most used. One net is filled with underwear(including socs), one net is the midle layer and one net is for outerware(rainclothes, mitts, caps). On longer trips I pack a "tube" with extras (Overmittens, face protection, reserve caps, aso) The nets are easy to open and you find what you seek for they are see-through.

/Otto

8:43 a.m. on November 2, 2008 (EST)
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It's funny how people who have been at this a while(backpacking), and who live in different areas, generally come to similar conclusions on the basics of packing.
I guess experience is the best teacher, and we all end up with the same findings, although we fine tune things differently.

I use nylon sacks of different sizes and colors to organize my stuff, I've done it enough that I can pack efficiently and know where everything is, even in the dark. I'm sure everyone else here can as well.

I am planning some gear changes soon, I am interested in a lighter tent, sil-nylon bags for packing gear, and some clothing changes.
I'm sure there will be some adjustments I will make with regards to packing, but the basics always seem to be the same.

Well, with the exception of what I like to call "Express Packing".
I have witnesses this method a couple of times on the Apalachian Trail.

These guys leave their sleeping bag in the tent along with their sleep apparel and stuff the whole mess in a large compressor bag and shove this in their pack, then dump in the smaller items on top, and VIOLA, they're off!

Being the overly organized type, I find this rather amusing, they claim it is "Unorthodox, but highly effective".

Have any of you guys/gals witnessed this type of packing?

11:37 a.m. on November 2, 2008 (EST)
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Otto -
I assume the net bags you are referring to are the ones shown a "mesh bags", like the 205, 209, etc. I sometimes use this type of bag for items that are ok to get wet, or for wet items to let them dry out. The question, if you are putting separate bags for each layer group of clothes, is how do you keep things dry. No pack is completely waterproof, after all, and if you stop for lunch on the trail, for instance, rain can get into the pack and soak the clothes (much of my time in Norway was spent in rain, lots of rain, so I know you get rain there).

The plastic compression bags I referred to (like the Eagle Creek Pack-it) are transparent enough to see what you have in the bag and are waterproof. The dry-bags are waterproof, but you can't see through them to see what is inside. Ziplock bags are see-through and waterproof, plus inexpensive, but the closures tend to come open, which lets water in.

"Express packing" --- hmmmmm. Well, I have done this, but only when I had to bail out or move camps fast (storm situations). You still have to pack the tent poles and pegs separately, or you bend or break them, or poke them through other things. It took longer to set up at the next campsite the few times I did this that we did an intermediate "exit" camp, but I think all but one or two times, we headed all the way to the trailhead. I don't see doing this as standard packing practice, especially on a long trek. Oh, I forgot about the usual practice of young scouts when leaving summer camp or the last day on the trail - the "horse to the barn" phenomenon takes hold, and the kids who were so slow getting going the rest of the trip are suddenly moving with lightning speed (might be the pizza awaiting them after we get back to the cars and on the road).

4:16 p.m. on November 2, 2008 (EST)
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I usually don't pack any clothing, wearing it all instead. The only thing is that I wear zip-off pants and wear layers on top like a tshirt,long sleeve shirt and rain coat. If I take anything off it is strapped under the top pocket. The only thing I pack is my sleeping bag,tent and cook gear. My Therma-a-rest is on the top rolled under my top pocket. I keep my flashlite,first aid and maps in the top pocket. And two full water bottles in the side pockets, plus two extra bottles empty for extra water in camp if needed. In spring/summer and fall I usually have no more than 12 lbs of packed stuff besides water and food.
I use ziploc bags to repack my foods in re-using them until they wear out. Freezer bags last longest. I rarely use a compass, just the sun and moon for bearings or a tree shadow for directions.

1:44 p.m. on November 3, 2008 (EST)
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Gary says he mostly uses

... just the sun and moon for bearings or a tree shadow for directions.

I did that until my first summer in the norther part of Alaska. I had no problem with the 24 hours of daylight. But for the first week or so, I had a hard time telling directions, since the sun could be anywhere around the horizon. But I learned that it always went around the sky in the clockwise direction ....

UNTIL I went to Antarctica. For much of the first week, things felt unbalanced and out of whack. Then I realized that the sun was going the opposite direction - COUNTERclockwise (or as the Brits term it, ANTIclockwise). Once I realized that, I started noticing that south was where the sun was lowest in the sky (except at the Pole, where it stays at the same height pretty much within a 24-hour period). Oh, and in the Arctic, the sun is at its low point as it passes True North (as opposed to the Antarctic, where it is lowest as it passes True South).

6:06 p.m. on November 3, 2008 (EST)
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Right, I am sure the Alaskan natives could tell directions with e the moon, sun and stars. In alska was where I learned that moss often grows thickest on the north side of trees as well as the bramches. And if on is lost you can tell diections in the early morning even in Alaska. Unless one is in a hurry to move he can wait till morning.
But rarely when I am living in the outdoors am I lost, because I am usually wandering off trail or following game paths.

11:13 a.m. on November 4, 2008 (EST)
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The best option I have found is to use a compressor bag, or a backpack liner. I would recommend the Sea to Summit UL sack. Depending on the size, it is under 3oz. I have found that if you put everything into little bags, you end up with little balls or tubes rolling around in your pack with alot of dead space between.

I pack my sleeping bag in a UL compression sack, one bag for the small loose items (head lamp, tooth past, lighter, etc.) and one ziplock bag for food. Everything, except the food goes in the UL sack. If I bring extra cloths, and I always bring at least a spare set of socks, they are used to fill the voids.

If extra cloths get wet, I just put them in the bottom of my backpack, outside of the sack.

Total pack weight for most of my three season hiking is around 11 to 13 oz, depending on weather The extra weight is due to the compass. Ha Ha

11:05 p.m. on November 13, 2008 (EST)
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gearjunky, I just got my UL sacks in and must say, great recomendation. I bought a couple diffent sizes, figured i could find some use for them if I don't use them on the trail. Haven't tried them on the trail yet but I like how they work already. Definatley better than ziplocks for sure!

12:17 a.m. on November 14, 2008 (EST)
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unless you're worried about the clothes with a '2 day funk' just roll them up. don't fold, roll. Much more efficient in terms of space and you'll get far fewer wrinkles in your clothes. I frequently iron my clothes before coming to work, roll them, stuff them in my bicycle panniers and unroll the uncreased items when I get here. It has worked on 1 week business trips and 2 months backpacking trips just as well.

for the stinky items, pack them in the top of your pack in a mesh bag. pull out the mesh bag when you get to where you are going and hang it up somewhere - it minimises the smell by letting your clothes air out and gives you a handy spot to throw your dirty laundry so it's all ready to go when you want to do a wash. It also keeps curious people away from your pack!

10:13 a.m. on November 14, 2008 (EST)
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Get a Sea to Summit eVent compression bag. They come in several sizes, are waterproof, and compressible. I think they run about $40, but its well worthwhile. It's definitely better than using a pack liner because it compresses and you can use several different ones to stay more organized. I just bought the biggest one and now use it for my sleeping bag and clothing.

July 23, 2014
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