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Thread: How do you organise your backpack?

  1. #11
    Guide Arrowolf's Avatar
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    In the main compartment I pack it in order of what I'll need to set up camp. First thing out is ground cloth, then tent, the sleeping gear.




    Sleeping pad in outer pocket.


    Side Pockets.




    Food goes into it's own sack, personal gear into another. I pack it the same way every time. I can put my hands on whatever I want in one try because I know exactly where it will be. It took me awhile to develop a system that works for me. I pack my dry bags for the kayak/canoe in a similar manner.

    When I'm onsite, I use another tarp/space blanket to put my gear on so that it stays collected in one place. It stays cleaner and small objects are less likely to get lost on the ground.

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  3. #12
    Scout PineMartyn's Avatar
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    I too would welcome some tips. I donít have the problem you describe on day trips and seldom on backpacking trips just because the gear we bring for those is minimal, but I do have the problem you describe when on a canoe-camping trip.

    Our canoe camping trips are usually about 5-10 days, so that means bringing quite a bit of gear, which must be packed carefully in order to be able to fit all of it our canoe packs, but that careful organization is quickly undone just a few days into a trip as gear often has to be repacked before moving on while some gear is still in use. For instance, Iíll begin packing up everything I can on a cold morning while my wife is making breakfast under the tarp, so the tarp, cooking pots, stove, etc, and extra clothing layers canít be packed up, but eventually need to be packed up before climbing into the canoe and setting off for the next camp. The result is that things are no longer where they were (often in a different pack entirely), and so finding things later when we make our next camp can involve a lot of rummaging.



    There are some things that are never a problem: Our ditch kits are always on our persons, the tarp and rain gear are always at the top of a pack for easy access in case of a sudden downpour, and a few items (headlamps, water filter, etc) are in small dedicated pack pockets, but the rest of the gear can end up anywhere.

    Fortunately, the situation improves towards the end of the trip because once the food barrel is significantly emptied, the cook kit, stove, and fuel bottle, is moved to the food barrel and that frees up a lot of room in our packs, making it easier to pack things back where they Ďbelongí.



    Regarding checklists: Iím a huge proponent of those. I can boast that we have never forgotten to pack a single piece of gear in years of tripping, but thatís because my memory is poor and so I have to rely on our ever-evolving checklist before every trip. For me, it takes all the worry out of packing.

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin

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  5. #13
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    I must be mad! I enjoy the "limited chaos" that my trips bring. Having said that, I have to be very organised in my day job and with the strict times for my meds etc so Im in no rush to get anywhere or do anything. I go at my own pace and if things take longer to get sorted thats what happens! I love it!

  6. #14
    Scout PineMartyn's Avatar
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    Tristar777 raised a good point about not being in a rush when out in the bush. One shouldn't feel one needs to know where everything is in order to save time.

    I'm happy to say I seldom feeling rushed when I'm in the bush, and I'm often reminding other outdoor enthusiasts that they don't need to spend a lot of money for a stove or fuels that will boil water in the least possible amount of time (unless they are mountaineers hell-bent on summitting and can't afford to waste any daylight); nevertheless, when canoe-tripping I am often very tired and weary from hours of paddling in hot weather and portaging over rough terrain by the time I arrive at camp, so when I need something from my pack, it makes me groan when I'm not sure where it is in my pack or even what pack it's in and I must empty half my pack to get what I need. It's even worse when you're still en route and you have to repack after...ugh.

    It's not such a big deal when backpacking, because one usually has only one pack, and one strives to bring as little as possible, but when canoe-tripping, there's usually 2 large packs, both crammed tight and 1 or 2 food barrels, so not being certain where something is can be a real pain.

    Any other advice or pointers would be welcomed.

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin

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    another idea.
    use a drybag to store your food. if a drybag will keep water out, it will sure keep odors away.
    if animals are a concern, you can lock it shut and use the strap and rope to hang it in trees to keep bears away.

  9. #16
    Scout PineMartyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by almac View Post
    another idea.
    use a drybag to store your food. if a drybag will keep water out, it will sure keep odors away.
    if animals are a concern, you can lock it shut and use the strap and rope to hang it in trees to keep bears away.
    Thanks for the suggestion almac.

    We use dry bags to hold our food for our backpacking trips. On backpacking trips, which are usually shorter duration, the food quantities are much less and a dry bag weighs a tiny fraction of what a barrel weighs. However, neither dry bags nor barrels are odor-free. Once you put food in either, animals will absolutely be able to smell it if they happen to be close by, which is why it's advisable to hang one's food bag or barrel. Doing so reduces the likelihood they will find themselves close enough to smell the food and and makes it harder for them to get to it if they do smell it. When using a bag, it's imperative that one hang up one's food because a bag can be gnawed through by a rodent or other critter in seconds. A barrel is harder to get into (though even a mouse can gnaw through that sort of plastic). A lot of camping stores and outfitters used to market dry bags and food barrels as preventing odors from escaping (they do lessen the escape of food odor, of course), but then they also sometimes marketed food barrels as "bear-proof", which was also incorrect. The only thing that makes a food barrel hard for a bear to get into is making it as inaccessible as possible. Canoeist who travel through barrens - where there are no trees - are forced to stash their barrels on the ground, far from camp, and they try to hide them amidst rocks and in shrubs so bears won't spot them, investigate, and smell food inside them. Once a bear can get a whiff of your barrel, it will go after it. And if it can get it's teeth onto your barrel, say goodbye to your food. Black bears can and do break into cars parked at trail heads to get at the snack foods they smell inside them. [Edit: added this sentence]: A plastic barrel doesn't block sent well enough and it won't keep out a bear. Our dog always knew which of the two barrels contained his dry dog food. A bear's sense of smell exceeds that of a dog's.

    The reason we use barrels when canoeing-tripping is that those are invariably longer trips and the quantity of food we need to bring is such that dry bags won't do it - there's just too much food to carry at the beginning of the trip and would put undo strain on a light dry bag - unless one were to use the heavy, rubberized SealLine dry bags, or else divides one's food among many bags, necessitating hanging up multiple bags.

    We actually find that the barrels, though heavier, are easier to carry with the harness system than a dry bag carried in the hand, and the fact that the barrel is a solid container makes it easier to find things in than a dry bag. But the dry bags, being lighter than a barrel, are, admittedly, a lot easier to hoist back up in a tree, and they take no time to seal back up. A barrel's a bit of a bother by comparison. Barrels are completely impractical for backpacking.

    Hope this helps,
    - Martin
    Last edited by PineMartyn; 01-21-2013 at 09:01 AM. Reason: bad spelling corrected,

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    Great topic that most think is elementary, but a lot of it depends on the individualís experience and activities. My wife and I are planning a 200 mile section of the AT later this spring. Iíll only be able to do about half (due to my work schedule), but we have been practicing on shorter hikes with our packing lists and weights.

    Weíre using a dedicated dry bag for food and will hang it using the PCT method. The standard packing methods are often the heaviest items closest to your back mostly for balance and keeping it closest to your center of gravity.

    My military background influences the way I pack. The top of my pack is often reserved for my layered clothing and rain protection. Additionally, I like to have my tarp and suspension at the top as itís the first thing I put up once we choose are overnight spot.

    As already mentioned, I like to pack how I set up camp and then reverse pack when breaking down. Clothing and food and stove are often at the bottom followed by sleeping pad, hammock and tarp.

    There are some items I like readily available such as the first aid kit, water filter, collapsible water containers, fire kit and my layered clothing (including hat, gloves, etc.).

    It does depend a lot on what we plan on doing, but the above is our current ďSOPĒ

    ROCK6
    Last edited by ROCK6; 01-21-2013 at 08:51 AM.

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  13. #18
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    I would love to be able to have standard packs set up for every length and type of adventure, but it just doesn't work, Canoeing or Camping? Hiking or Car camping? One night? Two night? four Night? Week long? Weather? If Canoeing portages? If hiking mountainous? Fishing while hiking? or fishing while canoeing? My thoughts have gone toward a matrix where each of these are issues and somehow I can organize taking all these into account.

    Comfort level could mean three separate matrix, desired quality of food etc. These all create complexities in the flow chart and the matrix.

    I think about starting that matrix soon, but right now I'm just writing lists of everything for the next adventure.

    So far a journal for different trips is as deep as I can go, it would be interesting to see what items of equipment make the cut on all adventures.

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    Tracker Chiral's Avatar
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    Some really useful into in this thread. I am a chronically disorganized packer so this really helps Thanks!

  16. #20
    Guide Bush Class Basic Certified dwightp's Avatar
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    Good thread!

    Several people have mentioned making checklists to make sure you put the necessary things into your pack.

    I go one step further and leave a contents list in my pack. That way, I can look at the list and know what the pack
    contains. Almost every trip I look at the list and have one of those, "Aha, I forgot that I had one of those in here!"
    moments, and then begin rummaging around looking for it. Otherwise, you end up coming home and finding something
    you needed on the outing that was hiding in the bottom of a pouch.....something you needed, and had the whole time.

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