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10/01/2020 3:11 pm  #1


I just made a big change to my packing list, and I wanted to share in case it helps somebody else.  I'm sure others have better methods, and 100% there are some of you who are able to just keep a pack ready to go except for food all the time.  I can't do that because I am master of the entire family's gear.  Trips are sometimes solo, sometimes any mix of people you can think of.  Sometimes I need to put gear together for one of my kids to go on a campout.  So, I store all the storm whistles together, and all the kitchen stuff together, and pack what I need when I need it. 

My new packing list shows everything that could go on a trip.  I cross stuff off that isn't relevant, and worry about quantities trip-by-trip.  In the past, it has taken me hours and hours to pack for a trip.  All the gear is stored in my bedroom closet (rubbermaid bins), and I basically selected what I needed, made a big pile, then figured out how to pack it.  This list/method will change that.  As soon as something is in my hands, I KNOW where it goes right away. 

What really changed my list and packing method was the purchase (last year) of a Granite Gear Portage Pack (Superior One).  This is a giant sack - no compartments.  I started packing (nearly) EVERYTHING in stuff sacks...and it made sense for my packing list to be arranged by stuff sack category.

The list below is high level.  My real list is extremely detailed, noting items that are located in the garage, items that are consumable so I know to verify what I have before a trip, notes for things that need maintenance, etc.

Non-stuff-sack items falls into these categories: 
Trip and Travel Related:  clothing in the car for return trip home, cash, passport card, reservation stuff.

Boat related: Canoe, painter for canoe, paddle, spare paddle, bailer, life jacket.

Separate Items: Backpack, tent, tarp, camp chair, camera, first aid kit (separate inventory list), sleeping bag (compression sack #1), mashable daypack - has pack cover and rain pants in it on travel days.

With Me: storm whistle, knife, headlamp, matches, glasses strap, park map, jacket, hat, toilet paper, footwear, water bottle.

Stuff sack or compression sack items:
Clothing - General clothing:  socks, shirts, pants, etc. (compression sack #2)  (Also keep a small dirty clothes stuff sack)

Clothing - Cold Weather/Sleeping:  balaclava, neoprene socks, sleeping bag liner, etc. (compression sack #3)

I used to combine the above two, but found it is easier to divide and conquer, plus two smaller bags are easier to pack.

Kitchen: blue stuff sack.  Nested cooking set, utensils, stove, gas, matches, etc.

Food Bag: the other blue stuff sack.  knife (for peanut butter), food line, "food" - broken out separately.

Orange Box & Mesh Bag:  these two (small) containers hold all meds, toiletrees, spare batteries, ear plugs.

Fire Prep Kit:  a very small stuff sack with water bucket, fire starter, lint, matches, etc. (I got stuck without ability to start a fire one time, and 30 years later I remain paranoid about it.)

General Gear:  the orange stuff sack.  compass, clothes line, water filter, Spot, bear spray, bigger knife, toilet paper, digging trowel.  (I wear suspenders rather than a belt, so I can't really carry the bear spray or bigger knife on me.)

There is some redundancy on my list, but it makes intuitive sense, at least to me.  I keep matches in the kitchen bag, in my pocket, and in my fire prep kit.  Generally speaking, I only use the ones in my pocket.  I keep toilet paper in the General Gear bag, but also in my pocket.  I use what's in my pocket, and replenish as necessary.

I guess the short version is simply to say that my packing list is now arranged by where it gets packed - and for me that will be much more efficient.

But I'll still find a way to make packing take forever.


10/02/2020 1:28 pm  #2

Re: Packing

We use a similar, super thorough list organized by destination bag, and it’s made packing so simple. Things don’t get forgotten unless you ignore the list!


10/02/2020 4:33 pm  #3

Re: Packing

I am one of those people who has tried the lists and spreadsheets but it never fails, from the time I make the list to the time I pack, something has changed.
No 2 trips seem to be the same. Lightweight to tandem on an access lake, Do I take the 4 or 2 person tent or do I take the hammock. What packs do I use. Don't even go near the kitchen, it is entirely dependant on what I packed for meals and then what it gets packed in. On an access lake with Bev I have been known to use a rubbermaid container that doubles as a great end table between us in the 4 person tent.
Other than forgetting T.P. one trip with Bev I have been pretty lucky not forgetting anything.


10/08/2020 12:54 pm  #4

Re: Packing

Rob - I also find that something always changes.  If two tents were required, I'd have to add the second tent to the list, and maybe I should just put it there so I can cross it off the printed list when it isn't needed.  I do have both "very cold-weather base layer" and "moderately cold-weather base layer" on my list.  I'll cross out the one I don't need.

My reference to the kitchen was to my "kitchen" stuff sack, and it is a good example of why I rearranged my list.  There are certain items that will be in that bag every single time no matter how many in the party:
Nested cook set
Pot Handle (lives inside the set)
Measuring Cup (lives in side the pots)
blah, blah, blah a half dozen other things

In the past, for storage, I would disassemble the kitchen sack and all the kitchen-related stuff would go in one of the rubbermaid bins.  I'd have to (re)construct the kitchen bag for a campout.  From now on, I won't disassemble that kitchen bag - the "every single time" items will remain stored there.  My other kitchen stuff will be stored in the same rubbermaid bin in case there are other people for a particular campout.  Going forward, all I need to do for a solo trip is haul out the blue kitchen bag, confirm that those seven or eight items are in there, and I'm good.

But wait, there's more.  The matches and fuel are identified as consumables on my list - so I know to check them before packing.

But wait, there's more.  I left this off my initial description, as I felt it was too complicated to describe, but maybe not.  My list has six columns under each of the headers mentioned in my original post. 
"David" (that'd be me)
"notes" which is blank for me to write stuff in,
"Packed" so I can check stuff off
"status" which is where I note something as consumable or requires maintenance or there's a breakout list like first aid or the food. 

The important part here is "Gear" vs "David".  Gear is general camping gear, like a camp saw or fire making stuff.  "David" is where I list anything that is personal gear - clothing of any kind, meds, camera, etc..  If I have other people coming along, I can insert a column for each person, to make sure they've got their personal gear squared away.  It is imperfect, but when I'm the tour coordinator trying to get things set for several people, it is necessary.  By hiding a few columns and rows, I can print off a pretty solid personal gear list for an inexperienced camper.

Another of my posts that wasn't supposed to be so looooongggg.  I write too much.....

     Thread Starter

10/08/2020 1:49 pm  #5

Re: Packing

Dave, would that be something you'd be willing to share?
My problem is that over the years I have collected to much stuff, like you I have it in bins marked for what inside, I spend a lot of time searching threw the bins and picking out the equipment that I need.
If I can borrow some of your ideas on a organized list it may make my life a lot easier when planning a camp trip......No sense trying to reinvent the wheel.

Last edited by Cadman_705 (10/08/2020 1:50 pm)


10/08/2020 3:27 pm  #6

Re: Packing

absolutely - it is an excel sheet, I'll send you a PM.  If I can't attach it there I'll give you a way to contact me.

     Thread Starter

Board footera

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