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Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing
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Justin Marney
(gotascii) - M

Locale: Shenandoah
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/09/2009 20:57:37 MDT Print View

I was wondering if anyone had any tips/tricks they use to minimize the time it takes to go from gear organized on the shelf to packed up in the car ready to go?


Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/09/2009 21:19:47 MDT Print View

I store all cooking gear in plastic bin,,clothes and stuff sacks in plastic bin,shelter and sleep systems in another bin and have the 10 essentials ready to go in my pack..Food is the last thing I pack..Everybody has different systems but this one works for me..I can be ready to go on a hike in 30 minutes or less...Preparing for a hike is almost half the fun!!!!

James Patsalides
( - MLife

Locale: New England
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/09/2009 21:22:15 MDT Print View

Well, I just keep my base gear packed in my GoLite Jam at the bottom of my closet... ready to go on a moment's notice... just add food, fuel & water... ;-)

Edited by on 09/09/2009 21:23:14 MDT.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/09/2009 21:44:38 MDT Print View

Usually, I backpack every week. My main strategy for reducing my packing time is to never unpack.

When I return from a trip, I dump everything out and separate what needs to be washed and all the food. I clean everything, then once it's clean I put it back in the pack instead of on a shelf. My tent/tarp, sleeping bag and pad are taken out, and aired out in the "gear pile". Usually my pack sits on the pad, the sleeping bag lofts next to it and my tarp is draped over it all.

For food, I essentially do the same thing. I take out my bear bag, clean what needs to be cleaned, then put all non-perishable food back in the bear bag and leave it on the pantry. Leaving the bear bag in the garage attracts cockroaches where I live. If i'm at the store and I see something I want to bring hiking, I put it directly in my bear bag when I get home. I usually also have multiple plastic bins where I keep my extra hiking food in. I try to force myself to take food from the bins instead of buying new food. Though usually it's food that I don't want to eat that is sitting in the bins.

The night before I leave for a hike I spend less than an hour, putting everything in stuff sack, efficiently packing my pack, getting my food bag together and making sure it's all there.

I recently lived in a house with five other fanatic hikers, pretty much everyone used this system as it's the fastest and keeps your stuff in a small pile. Obviously our garage was full of these piles and other assorted drying gear. One day I counted 26 backpacks in the garage!

This makes me want to go hiking!

Larry Sullivan
(150mph) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Gear lists on 09/09/2009 23:36:08 MDT Print View

I also keep my gear on shelves, organized in see-through plastic boxes. I use two gear lists and check off each item one by one:

Backpack gear list - everything I'm carrying/wearing on the trail - checked off the night before.

Supply/car camping box list - In a separate box, I keep everything for the road, extra supplies, comfort items, food and a complete separate shelter/sleep/kitchen setup for the night before I hit trail, after I've driven to the trailhead, often a long drive. (I've got an extra tent, bag, pad and stove) I like to keep my checked off backpack gear separate so I don't accidentally leave something critical out - easy to do when repacking at the chaos of the car trunk the morning I hit the trail, especially in messy weather.

Justin Marney
(gotascii) - M

Locale: Shenandoah
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/14/2009 08:31:01 MDT Print View

Good suggestions! I'm going add more plastic bins to my current storage system. Re-packing all the items that don't need to loft/dry will also save me some time. Thanks!

joseph peterson
(sparky) - F

Locale: Southern California
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/15/2009 16:22:00 MDT Print View

I also keep everything but my down Items packed in my pack and ready to go. I keep my down stuff in a plastic bin next to pack.

Before I pack I have my gear list handy to make sure I have everything there.

I always have a stock of food ready. Many of my trips are hatched in my head Friday at work. I come home, shower and pack, and am out the door within 20 minutes, and hitting the trail an hour later.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
reducing time on 09/15/2009 18:31:44 MDT Print View

The best advice I could give you on reducing packing time is to know what you need and know how to pack it.

Besides the main categories (bag, pad, tent, clothes, food, water, cooking gear, rain gear, etc.), you also have the miscellaneous gear which is what I was always afraid of forgetting (thus I used to take forever when packing also). I have put a lot of thought into paring down my miscellaneous gear so it fits in a small ditty bag, which is where it always stays now. As long as I remember to bring it, I never find myself on the trail realizing I've forgotten some small essential item. For illustration, I'll list the items below.

Toothbrush/toothpaste, various fire starters (in plastic bag), spare compass, headlamp (plus a spare micro LED), first aid kit (bandaids, sterile/antibacterial wipes, nail clippers, tweezers), pencil and some paper, extra guy line (with mini carabiner at one end), water treatment, toilet paper and a small chamois towel

Edited by artsandt on 09/15/2009 18:36:16 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/15/2009 18:37:37 MDT Print View

All my big gear that goes on most trips is in plain sight on a wall rack, my shelters are hanging elsewhere on a rack, and everything else lives in my "everything bag".

I grab a pack, bag, pad, jacket, and pants from the wall rack, select my shelter from my shelter rack, and toss the red everything bag into the pack.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/15/2009 19:00:24 MDT Print View

What I find helps me out is my "48 HR Rule" after returning from a trip.

Within 48 hrs of returning from a trip, I have all my gear washed, cleaned, bottles of sunscreen, hand sanitizer, soap, etc...reloaded. Sleeping bags, bivy, tarptent, insulated clothing has been washed, aired out, and then stored properly (uncompressed).

Then I re-pack my backpack with everything except sleeping bag, water, food, bear vault/ur sack, and insulating layers.

That way, when I take a trip, I don't really have to worry about finding stuff and having come right back from a trip when I clean and re-pack, I am aware of what worked and did not work and try not to foget anything.

In my gear closet, I do have plastic boxes/bins that are clearly labeled with stove/kitchen stuff, tent stuff, food stuff, misc stuff.

So for anything that I need to use on an upcoming trip, they are easily available in one wondering where I put something from the last trip or around the house.


Jesse H.
(tacedeous) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
packing on 09/15/2009 22:46:16 MDT Print View

hello fellow bay area backpackers... seems like a lot of us pack the same

I keep everything packed except down items, food and clothes... the only "multi-use" non backpacking item is a headlamp... all extra gear that is not just for summer weekend get-aways, is in clear bins that are marked...

ready to go, just stop by safeway for salami and jameson ;)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Tip on 09/16/2009 01:26:18 MDT Print View

One strategy that is working well for me is to have camping specific items as much as I can.....items like toothpaste, toothbrush etc.

By having a specific toothbrush for hiking, you can keep it ready to go in your stuff sack with all your miscellaneous gear. The same goes for deoderant, tooth paste, contact lens solution etc. These are the things that tie you down as you're trying to get out the door because they're easy to forget otherwise and even if you do remember, you can't pack them until the last minute because you need them in your day to day life.

A lot of these things you replace anyways as you go ultralight, but still....the more hiking only gear you own the easier it is to have ready.

I store my stuff like this:

1) 'Essentials' Stuff Sack - Ton of Misc Items including spork, toothbrush, knife, bear bag rope, first aid etc. It's all in the sack and ready to go

2) Pack and Sleeping Quilt hanging in the closet right above the bin with my gear in it.

3) Clothes sack pre-loaded with socks, undies, xtra baselayer, rain gear. Just need to add my insulating layers because unfortunately I use these in my day to day life as well.

4) A few misc items I keep right in the hipbelt pockets in my pack like compass, water pills, knife etc. My platyBottles stay in the side pockets ready to be filled.

So when the time comes to hike, I stuff my quilt in the stuff sack, stuff that in my pack, drop in the essentials stuff sack, toss my insulating layers in the clothes sack and toss that in and then I'm ready to add consumables.

Consumables are probably the hardest part. Meal planning is a tough one....depending on how much you get out. I have a few favourite meals but often I need to just wander the grocery store for a while before each trip and that really wastes time. If I had pre-made dehydrated meals all ready to go that would save a ton of time.

Edited by dandydan on 09/16/2009 01:27:22 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Tip 2 on 09/16/2009 01:31:19 MDT Print View

Another tip is to get all that gear that you never use out of the way. I have a huge stuff sack full of gear that I'm almost never ever going to use (ie. the 3 lbs flashlight I got for a present) and then another large stuff sack of stuff that I might use (ie. extra fuel canisters, different pots etc). Only my regular gear stays loose in the bin and even then it's normally packed ready to go in the proper stuff sack. My gear bin has my tent, my stuff sack full of all my small random gear, my stuff sack with clothes in it and then an empty stuff sack for my quilt. That's about it Everything else is packed away in these large stuff sacks. This makes it a lot easier to find that sleeping quilt stuff sack or whatever it is that you need.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Tips on reducing time taken preparing/packing on 09/16/2009 09:03:41 MDT Print View

I use 3 different bins that are organized by how often I use the gear (e.g. every time, sometimes, rarely) I also have a stuff sack that holds the refills of all of my non food consumables (e.g. fire starters, sunscreen, alcohol pads) I find it helpful to keep them all together so I don't forget to refill.