Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Trip Preparation

Since I have a couple Sierra pack trips coming up later this summer, I’ve been thinking about my process for getting all of the necessary gear assembled and ready to go. (See the Equipage section for many, many more details about this process.) My approach goes something like this, at least for a trip long enough to require more than a couple of hours of last minute scrambling:

One week or so before the trip – I begin to go over food and equipment issues – but not in any organized way and often primarily while daydreaming. At this point I’m forming a “back of my mind” mental list of things to think about, gear to check, and menus to plan. I may take out a few key pieces of gear and double check them, but other than that no specific, organized preparation is happening yet.

Three days before the trip – I’m still not really getting organized, but a couple of important things are beginning to occur. At this point I recognize that I really do need to accomplish some serious organization and planning very soon, and I also start to take care of certain city things that must be handled before I can go.

Two days before the trip – Time to start locating gear and going over checklists. At this point I may start writing things down, making lists of equipment that needs to be purchased. I probably am still not actually making food lists, but I am starting to develop a basic meal plan in my mind.

One day before the trip – For a longer trip, a good portion of this day is devoted to serious planning and organizing – though I may find ways to stall enough that I don’t really get to work until afternoon. On this day I locate all of the gear I need and get it out and organize it. As I work I write out a shopping list that includes the inevitable last minute gear purchases, and a checklist of non-backpacking gear than I need to bring along. I develop an actual food list; it begins as a meal list and then evolves into a grocery shopping list.

I print out my standard packing list and look over my piles of gear, checking them against the list. As I do this I actually put my hand on each item to make sure that I have it – if I don’t, I either find it right away or add it to the to do/shopping list. Once this is done I make my final run to the stores – typically an outdoor store for one or two last items plus a grocery store for the bulk of my food.

Once I finish the shopping I should have all the food and equipment that I’ll need. The next step is to assemble and pack the food ingredients. Since I don’t rely primarily (or sometimes, at all) on prepackaged backpacking meals, I spend some serious time in the kitchen measuring and bagging lots of food. Once the food is ready to go I assemble everything in one place, go over my lists once more, and start packing. Once packed, everything is either collected together by the front door, ready to go, or else packed into the car ready for an early getaway.

If I’m lucky, I get to this job before it is too late. Usually I’m not lucky… :-)

Midnight or so the night before – Finally time to get to bed.

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July 17, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary

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