Dale, great list. I like the idea of forum-compiled faqs and mini-tutorials here. Right now, we’ve got a lot of good info often buried just a little too deep. My 3 cents:
- Efficiently integrate all clothing and sleep insulation. Consider fit, relative breathability of each layer, & where moisture is likely to accumulate from external AND internal sources. Some items can be packed together to increase simplicity. Packing other items together, you run the risk of squeezing moisture from one insulative layer into another, otherwise drier layer.
- Experiment with the drying time of your action layers. It has been said elsewhere here that being dry is overrated. Sometimes true. If you rain-soak a thin, very breathable windshirt earlier in the day, it is easy to ‘hike it dry’ with nothing more than the body heat of continuous exertion (even in cold weather). If in a similar timeframe you soak your windshirt in rain, then have to don your hardshell over it as conditions deteriorate, take care to dial back your exertion level: just enough to maintain body heat and continue drying the windshirt inside, but not so much as to overheat and further soak your underlayers with sweat. This beats packing or air-drying a soaked windshirt. Eventually you’ll be confident enough to allow some wetting out when you’re still a few hours from camp. But… allow this to happen right before crawling into your sleeping bag, esp. w/ down fill when temps are cold, and you may still dry that windshirt overnight. However all that moisture will simply displace into an even worse location, the bag! Synthetics can mitigate, but do not totally solve, this problem. Experiment.
- On longer trips, food weight can easily outweigh gear. Pay as much attention to the nutrient-density of your meals as you do to the performance:weight ratio of your equipment.