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Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning
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Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 05/31/2010 22:51:32 MDT Print View

Okay, I think that I have my gear dialed in for me.

What I am interested in what people are doing the night before to save time in the morning to help them get started on the trail that much quicker.

Here is what I do:

Once I am in camp and have my shelter setup, I collect 4 L of dirty water in my Platypus water tank and use my Sawyer gravity filter to filter 1.8 L of water to reload my hydration system, to which I add a few Nuun electrolyte tablets, for the next day. The excess water I use to have water to drink/cook/brush my teeth with that night.

After dinner and washing my MSR Titan Kettle, I will refill my 4 L water tank with some dirty water that I can filter to allow me to tank up on water before leaving camp, which also eliminates the need to go trekking off in the morning to get water.

Before going to bed or sometime after dinner, I fill up my MSR Titan Kettle with filtered water and place my Fuel Canister on top of the top of the Kettle with my MSR Pocket Rocket loosely screwed on to the canister. I place this next to my bivy and I have my mini bic lighter/fire starting supplies in the waterproof bag that comes with the BPL Mini Fire Steel kit inside my bivy above my head.

(I am a bit paranoid about accidental loss of fuel, so I don't completely thread it on til I am cooking).

When I tie up my UR Sack away from camp for the night, at the top of my OP Oder-proof sack that is inside the UrSack, I have my oatmeal breakfast bag and bars/trail mix for tomorrow's journey at the top of the bag for easy hunting for food in the morning.

Also above my head in my bivy are my Sea To Summit Ultra Sil Sacks, which I use as ditty bags, dry Sawyer gravity filter, extra clothing is also in this pile, in case it gets cold at night. On top of this pile I have my headlight and glasses, for when I need to go to the restroom at night.

When I wake up in the morning, I unzip my MLD Soul Side Zip, pull on my Montbell Thermawrap jacket and reach over to my Canister Stove and with a few turns I finish screwing on the Pocket Rocket, I am ready to fire up. I pull out my little fire starting kit baggie and pull the mini bic and light my stove and put the Kettle on top of it and pull my shoes one, which are under my bivy for use as a pillow, and get my UR sack which has my food and is a short/safe distance from where I was sleeping.

I return to my bivy and pop my shoes off and get back into my sleeping bag/quilt & bivy for breakfast in bed.

After my water is heated up, I turn off my Pocket Rocket and open up my URsack and pull out my snack baggie of oatmeal and pour it into my Kettle and pop the lid back on to allow it to cook up.

Depending on if I think I will want to have a hot drink later, I will either break down the stove or leave it for the next round of hot water.

I will then attach my Sawyer gravity filter to my water tank of dirty water to allow me to filter water for a hot drink or simply to tank up before heading out on the trail.

Breakfast in bed.

After breakfast, I will use some of the dirty water in my water thank to wash my Kettle and Spork all while laying in my bivy.

Fire Starting Kit/Mini Bic and headlight goes back into my ditty bag.

Depending if I have room in my UrSack, the Kettle, Stove, and Fuel Canister may get stored in the UrSack. If not, it goes in the pile at the head of my bivy bag with the other stuff that will be packed away.

I also pull out the snacks and bars that I will be eating up til lunch time.

I will then pull my Jam2 pack out from under my bivy, which I use to supplement my Gossamer Gear Torso and Thinlight Pad.

From my Jam2, I will pull out my compression bag for my quilt/sleeping bag and while kneeling on my foam pads with the bivy unzipped all the way, I will pack my bag/quilt into my compression bag and toss in my pile at the head of my bivy.

Next I will put my torso pad in a garbage bag and pack it in my Jam2 against my back. (I find that the plastic bag allows me to more easily side things into the pack with out getting snagged on the "sticky" foam pad.

I will then roll up my thin light pad and pack it on the outside of my Jam2 on the left side, vertical. On the right side, outer pocket of my Jam2, I will place my empty 1 pint water bottle for use with the Sawyer filter for filtering water on the go on the trail and I place my bars and snacks in the pocket for easy access on the trail.

Change into hiking clothing/remove insulating layers...thermals.

From the top of my bivy I will stuff the front pocket of my Jam2 with the ditty bag and some extra clothing that I might need later on the trail- insulated hat, wind shirt, gloves, and rain gloves.

Compressed sleeping bag/quilt goes into the bottom of my Jam2. UrSack packed away next to sleeping bag.

(I tend to pack thing in my main bag in horizontal layers vs. columns).

Bivy is about empty...put my shoes on.

Pack up bivy and tarp, if used.

Note: If I have used the tarp, I will reconfigure my MLD poncho tarp into a poncho vs. having to fumble around with doing that while it starts raining on me. To help with this, based on my friend, Cameron's suggestion, I have used different colored nail polish to color coordinate which pairs of snaps goes together. I learned that on a very windy trip to Mt. Whitney, I was hopeless unable to figure out how to get my tarp converted into poncho mode due to the high winds.

Tank up on water from water tank, using the Sawyer filter as a straw to filter on demand.

Empty water tank and store in front pocket of Jam2.

Suck Sawyer filter dry and wrap in small all purpose wash towel and pack in front pocket of Jam2 for easy access on the trail.

Remove Thermawrap jacket and place in the top of Jam2 with Platypus hydration system. (Water, Rain Gear/Poncho Tarp, insulating jacket are always at the top of my pack for easy access).

Grab poles on the ground and start hiking!

Anyway, this turned into a bit more than what I do the night before, but you get an idea of what I do to get setup the night before and in the morning.

I like being able to have breakfast in bed with just about everything at arms length.

I especially like being able to pack up almost all of my gear from inside my bivy...helps keep things clean and dirt free.

Please feel free to share your best practices or what you do once you are in camp.

Always looking for ways to doing things faster/smarter.



Edited by Valshar on 05/31/2010 22:56:25 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/01/2010 02:05:30 MDT Print View

Hi Tony

> I am a bit paranoid about accidental loss of fuel, so I don't completely
> thread it on til I am cooking

That just might be a BIG mistake. With some stove/canister combinations, having the stove screwed half-on can result in the canister valve being pushed just slightly open, without the benefit of the O-ring seal. If you hear a faint brief hiss as you screw your stove on fully, that's gas escaping for this reason. So screw the stove on fairly fast.

Personally, I would recommend either completely removing the stove, or leaving it screwed on properly with the valve shut. I much prefer the first option, btw. (Edit - for the same reasons as Tony mentions below.)


Edited by rcaffin on 06/02/2010 15:52:18 MDT.

Tony Beasley
(tbeasley) - MLife

Locale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
Re: Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/01/2010 03:16:00 MDT Print View

Hi Tony and Roger,

>Personally, I would recommend either completely removing the stove, or leaving it screwed on properly with the valve shut. I much prefer the first option, btw.

I did some tests a few years ago where I left a stove tightly screwed on a canister overnight for a few nights and weighted the canister each morning, a few grams of gas was lost each night.

I always remove the stove from the canister after cooking and the stove has cooled down.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/01/2010 04:48:32 MDT Print View

I discovered early in my UL career that time was an important factor in being able to cover many miles per day. Originally, I thought that 10-15 miles per day was my distance limit. Then I found time-saving methods to be able to get out of camp an hour earlier in the morning. If you keep your gear minimal, you don't have much to set up when you reach camp in the evening. I discovered that I could eat lunch without even breaking stride on the trail, but that I needed some lunch food two or three times per day. I used to hike until after dark. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was very inefficient in camp duties when it is dark. Headlamps go only so far.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: camp ritual on 06/01/2010 07:38:03 MDT Print View

Sounds like you have your stuff pretty dialed. Other than possibly cutting down on stuff (anything you don't need?), I have only one suggestion.

Don't eat breakfast in camp.

Pack everything up and get on the trail straightaway. Much a few bars for the first 3-4 hours of hiking, then find a scenic spot, stop, and brew up. Have "breakfast" for brunch.

Breakfast in bed does sound luxurious, though I'll never do it around here (Griz country). Getting out of bed on a cold morning can be a big source of slow, and having immediate packing as a part of protocol can be more efficient. I find I'm motivated to get stuff done so I can get moving and warm up. Stopping to eat later also serves the dual function of letting you chill out at a new location that is hopefully worthy of further introspection, and providing an off the feet break when it is beneficial to the cause of further hiking that day.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: re: camp ritual on 06/01/2010 09:03:06 MDT Print View

+1 on David's suggestion. It's usually below freezing where I go in the morning and I need to be on the trail quick to get warmed up. I do eat about 500 calories of no cook snacks as I packing up.

You can also save some time and cold fingers by loosely packing your bag inside your bivy and stuffing it in your Jam2. It nice if you take your bag out to dry later since you can pull the bivy and bag out together. Also, the bag gets less compressed and can grow as your food supply dwindles.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning" on 06/01/2010 09:21:12 MDT Print View

Hey Greg - I don't want to hijack this thread too much (sorry Tony), but I'm just thinking out loud.

What if you have a Neo Air pad in the bivy? I know you could remove the pad and roll it up separate. I don't think you want to stuff a Neo Air, right?

When I had my bivy out for the first time, I had it rolled up with the Neo Air inside of it and the whole thing fit in the Neo Air stuff sack.

But I like your idea.....

I like the idea of skipping/delaying a formal breakfast.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/01/2010 09:43:54 MDT Print View


Craig Wisner and I did a 3 day, 2 night trip this past weekend. Although we did not discuss methods, and had never met before, we both operated in a similar method. Total time from wake up to walking about 30 minutes, which included cooking breakfast. Craig usually doesn't do breakfast, but he accomodated me, as he is respectful of his elders. Since I am near twice his age, he is nice to old people :)

Day 1:
Filled up 4 liters of water 1 mile before our campsite destination. Craig purified with Aquar Mira drops, I used tablets. We both had about 1 liter of already purfied water, so we could drink it without waiting for the chemicals to kick in. Water temperature at fill up was very cold (snow fed spring).

Night 1:
No bears, so no need to prep for that.
No chance of rain, so no shelter.
Lay out polycro sheet.
Lay out sleeping pad.
Lay out sleeping quilt to fluff up.
Lay out equipment for efficiency.
Put on puffy jacket.
Lay quilt over lap while sitting on pad.
Boil water for freezer bag dinner (Craig cooked and simmered his dinner).
Boil water for hot choclate and whiskey. Craig brought a little wiskey. Good man!!
To left of my bed water bottles, shoes, hat, and misc items in shoes (sun glasses, mircro light, camera).
To right of bed, leave Caldera Cone set up.
Put puffy jacket in cuben sack as a pillow.
Put all remaining gear and food in pack, place back under legs (NightLight pad is only torso length).

Morning 2:
Sit up and put on puffy jacket.
Boil water.
Place all gear in pack, except pad and polycro sheet.
Eat oatmeal and drink coffee (Craig ate cold meal).
Pack stove up and place in pack.
Place pad and polycro sheet in pack.
Start hiking.

Night 2:
Hiked for 14.5 hours. Arrived at campsite at 9:00PM.
Campsite had spring.
Craig had enough water to cook dinner.
I had enough water to drink.
I filled up water bottles for dinner and next day's hike.
Same routine as prior night.

Morning 3:
Quick breakfast of coffee and cold food.
Broke camp at 6:30 am. Craig filled his bottles, mine already filled.
Hiked for 8 hours to our vehicles.

I could pack a little quicker, since I had a little less gear. Keep in mind we did nearly 60 miles and Craig's base was around 6lbs, and mine just under 4lbs. If we did not have breakfast, we would probably pack in the same time. Craig cooks fresh food, and I boil mine.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/01/2010 10:21:00 MDT Print View

"Don't eat breakfast in camp."


My favorite times to hike are right after I get up and after dinner. I consider both of these periods to be "bonus" hiking periods, meaning I'm not trying to cover miles but rather just strolling in the mountains.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: "Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning" on 06/01/2010 11:02:11 MDT Print View

I haven't played with a neoair so I dont know how flexible it is. If it's flexible then maybe you could stuff along with bag/quilt. I just pull my ridgerest out and pack seperate.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/01/2010 11:10:36 MDT Print View

Best way to save time in the morning... Get out of bed! Your bed anchors you, physically and mentally (IMHO, of course).

I get up & dressed, stuff my bag, pad, and most clothes, set up my stove, grab my food, start the coffee & breakfast. While breakfast "cooks" I tear down the tent & pack it up. I take off my poofy layer & pack it. When I'm done eating I clean the pot, toss the food & cookgear in the pack. My midlayer comes off, goes in a small dry sack w/first aid, etc. Time to hit the trail.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
breaking camp on 06/02/2010 09:08:28 MDT Print View

Unless I'm camping with my girlfriend (then I'm in no rush to get up), I like getting up and moving quickly. So, I can really relate to your question.

You seem to have a system that works well for you. As several others have mentioned, I find that in addition to organization and having a good packing method, the best way to get out of camp quickly is to get out of bed and packed as quickly as possible. For me, this means not eating breakfast at camp, but hiking a mile or two and breaking out a breakfast bar or a Pop-Tart. Boiling water and cleaning up in the morning doesn't make sense to me IF your (read: my) goal is to get out and get moving fast.

I save the hot breakfasts for "slow days," when it's raining heavily or there's a really nice view from camp or for some other reason I'm in no rush.

Edited by vinovampire on 06/02/2010 09:09:19 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: "Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning" on 06/02/2010 12:10:20 MDT Print View

Hi Greg,

The Neoair is not stiff in the least, it basically drapes like a piece of fabric. I wouldn't "stuff" it willy-nilly, but it would roll nicely along with a bivy or quilt, so long as you started at the opposite end from the valve to evacuate all the air.


Rick (not a morning person)

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/02/2010 15:29:23 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses to everyone.

Still would like to hear what others do once they get into camp to make life easier that night or for the next morning.

Will definitely leave my stove either all the way screwed on tight for use in the morning or just leave it unscrewed and next to the canister to assemblem in the morning.

The idea of just getting up and hiking a few miles, munching on a bar for a snack and then stopping along the trail for breakfast to give the feet a rest does sound like a great idea...will have to see if the other(s) that I travel with would want to give it a go.

Yes, I could save time all together by skipping the hot breakfast, but I have to admit that I enjoy having a hot meal and drink in the morning to warm me up and get my hydrated. (My little luxuries).

All of this reminded me of someones idea/suggestion of using their bivy bag as a waterproor/resistant pack liner inside their pack.

Duel usage, sounds like a pretty good idea.

Any other good ideas out there that people have to share?


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/02/2010 15:43:24 MDT Print View

We often just cook up an extra large dinner, and have the leftovers for breakfast, but we don't hike in bear country. We just leave the leftovers in the pot on the stove, ready to light, so only one round of pot cleaning. We have a separate 3 cup pot for brews also ready to go with water in it. We don't need to filter water either, but have full 3L bladders ready to go before bedtime. Other than that, we're not usually in a hurry to get moving in the mornings, unless it's a winter trip and daylight is short. I'm not a fan of a cooked breakfast on the trail as the bugs can eat you alive in just a few minutes, plus we never know when rain is just around the corner. Better to eat in the tent for us.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/03/2010 00:22:52 MDT Print View

The idea of just getting up and hiking a few miles, munching on a bar for a snack and then stopping along the trail for breakfast to give the feet a rest does sound like a great idea
Does this really save time? You lose the ability to overlap heating your water with getting packed.

When I used to lead canoe trips in Canada for 13-14 year olds, getting going was important. Skipping or postponing breakfast was not one of the options :) so my solution was that their ticket to breakfast was having their personal gear all packed. That worked quite well.

-- MV

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/03/2010 00:26:52 MDT Print View

Does this really save time? You lose the ability to overlap heating your water with getting packed.

Agree! And for me a hot breakfast is a great way to start the day.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/03/2010 06:22:49 MDT Print View

Tony. You could just take a few less photos, lol! What's the rush? Out hiking is the only time I can have breakfast in bed.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
"Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning" on 06/03/2010 06:29:52 MDT Print View

If your goal is miles, then eating becomes an act of only fueling the engine and the enjoyment of eating becomes secondary. I prefer to enjoy each minute and if the miles come great, if I only make 10 in a day but have made some great memories, even better.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Best Practices: Saving Time in the Morning on 06/03/2010 09:17:08 MDT Print View

>Does this really save time? You lose the ability to overlap >heating your water with getting packed.

>Agree! And for me a hot breakfast is a great way to start the >day.

I agree that a hot breakfast can be a great way to start the day, but the general theme to this thread is "how to save time in the morning" and not heating water/eating a hot meal does save time.

Why does eating a breakfast bar a couple miles down the trail at a natural rest stop save time over making a hot breakfast in camp? That can be answered in two different ways - theoretically and experientially.

In theory, eliminating the time of preparing a meal, heating water, eating, and then cleaning up has to take more time than not doing any of these activities. Even if you do all these things quickly, if you hold everything else equal, you still take more time than not doing them at all. And, even if you eliminate the time of heating water by packing while the water is getting hot, you still have the other steps. Also, maybe I'm overly careful, BUT I would never leave a stove running unattended, so I'm not sure how one would pack and cook at the same time.

In practice, I've seen that when people (including me) cook in the morning, they tend to take their time and enjoy it. That's fine, but it won't get you out of camp and on the trail quickly. In reality, in rushed or emergency situations most people will skip breakfast if they need to get on the trail quickly for whatever reason.

There are plenty of reasons to take your time in the morning. Last weekend, I was out with my GF and we took our sweet time for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, however, you will need or want to get moving quickly. So, I think this is an important topic.