Have you ever experienced a gear bomb?
You’re looking for that one simple item in your pack, and you’re sure you knew where it was, only to find it at the bottom of your bag. Unfortunately now you’ve sacrificed what little organization you had after tearing through your gear and spreading it all around your campsite or on the trail. Now it looks like a bomb has just gone off in your pack. Gear bombs have happened to all of us at some point, but they’re completely preventable with a little planning and savvy packing.
Items that are common for overnight or multi-night treks are a sleeping bag, cookware with stove, utensils, and food, extra clothes including a rain jacket or warmer shell, hygiene items, navigation tools, and other personally preferred miscellaneous gear. All of these pieces of kit can clutter and take up a lot of room in your pack making it difficult to sort through when only one item is needed at a time.
Organize your pack and give your gear extra waterproofing by compartmentalizing like items in waterproof stuff sacks and compression sacks. Most all sleeping bags come with a large storage sack and smaller stuff sack; use the stuff sack to compress your bag so that it doesn’t take up much needed space. The same goes for your tent. Then designate another stuff sack as your “kitchen” bag to store all your cookware and food in. And instead of filling your pack with spare clothes keep them all in yet another stuff sack or compression sack. I like to pack my extra clothes in a compression sack according to the order I will most likely need each article. I usually pack socks at the bottom and then shorts, pants, and shirts then thermal pants and shirts, and finally gloves and a beanie depending on weather and climate. This way once camp is set and the air chills I can grab warm clothes first leaving other unneeded articles undisturbed.
Usually jackets and rain jackets are the only gear items I leave out of a sack so they can be retrieved easily and efficiently without digging through the pack and then a sack while getting everything else wet in a sudden rainfall. I store navigation tools like compasses, GPSs, and maps in a zip bag with my wallet, phone, and paper permits in the top pockets of the pack for easy access. The same goes for hygiene items like a small toothbrush, lip balm, and sanitizer, but I usually keep these along with my med kit in the outer pocket on the back of the pack. Other items like cameras and a rain fly for the pack can be kept in the top flap pocket as well if there’s room or where it’s convenient for your particular pack design. And to save room inside your pack, strap your ground pad to the bottom of it or to the side using the built in straps on your bag.
Remember, if you take care of your gear it will take care of you.