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#189381 - 02/25/15 06:51 PM Organization
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 235
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I'm not overly obsessiveness about things, but.....
My pack is very well organised. At least when I start a trip. However, as days go by things just seem to get thrown in the pack. I do keep snacks and rain gear in reach and my sleep bag is on the bottom but i often have to dump too much out to get what I need. Is there some secret formula for staying organized? I have thought if I used special colored stuff sacks that might help, but I never got around to it and then again a plastic bag is lighter in most cases. So my dry warm clothes sit in a lumpy white plastic garbage bag. My pot and stove and cup get shoved in where ever they will fit, same for the Theremorest (c) pad. My firstaid kit fills a fare size freezer zip-loc (c) bag (I'm an EMT and my friends seem to rely on me for extra supplies in that regard, even thought they shouldn't). And that is always in the lid of the pack, so that is where I can find it.
Jim
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Jim M

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#189384 - 02/25/15 07:51 PM Re: Organization [Re: Jim M]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
Is there some secret formula for staying organized?

The only pre-existing structure for keeping things organized in your pack are the pockets it has built into it. Ultralight packs often incorporate fewer pockets, since these require more fabric for a given volume. Beyond that you can add your own stuff sacks, Ziplocs and various ditty bags to help keep items organized. These also add weight.

So, the first decision will be how much weight is it worth to you to collect items into groupings, which are bagged up together so they can be more easily stowed and then found. A pile of loose stuff dropped into one big pocket is never going to be very organized. At the other extreme, putting every item in its own bag would be insane because it gains you nothing. You need to strike a happy balance.

For example, all the clothes I won't need during the day are in one stuff sack, which doubles as my pillow. First aid is in its own kit. Small emergency and repair items are together in a Ziploc. Food is distributed in gallon ziplocs with all my lunches together, suppers together and so on. Items I'll want quick access to go in the pack's lid pocket. And so on.

Then it becomes a matter of developing good habits. I tend to repack my pack from scratch each morning during a trip. This doesn't take as long as it sounds, because once everything has a home, I don't need to think about where it should go. I just grab it, stow it, grab the next thing and stow it, etc. I'm usually done in five minutes.

I hope this helps. smile

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#189385 - 02/25/15 08:30 PM Re: Organization [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'm a big fan of "Next week I've got to get organized," but after 79 years, next week has not yet arrived. laugh

I do have a checklist (it's the spreadsheet I set up years ago to keep track of the weight of individual items in my pack) that I religiously use when packing up at home before the trip. Any time I've taken a shortcut and not checked everything off, something important gets left behind. I more or less by instinct shove the stuff into my pack in approximately the same order every morning. Of course, as Aimless mentions, in a single compartment pack, things tend to migrate a bit. On the other hand, the only things I might need to get at during the day that aren't in an outside pocket are my insulating clothing (in a dry bag) and first aid. Those are at the top of my pack's main compartment. Anything else I might need during the day is in the pack's outside pockets (full-length on each side and on the front of the pack) or the added-on hip belt pocket.

I do try to keep all my stuff together in the tent. I get out what I need for the evening and toss the rest (mostly odds and ends) back into the pack. In that regard, I'm still more organized than my going-on-15-year-old grandson, who normally spreads his entire pack contents all over the tent floor and has to be reminded to make room for me!

I try to keep stuff sacks/plastic bags to as few as possible, j to keep the weight down.

In other words, I manage to be sort of organized without worrying too much about it. Since one of the reasons I backpack is to reduce/eliminate stress, that's important to me. Your Mileage, of course, May Vary.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#189386 - 02/25/15 08:43 PM Re: Organization [Re: OregonMouse]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Napa, CA
We stay pretty organized, but that's for three reasons:

1. We don't take a lot of stuff. When there is less stuff, there is less stuff to get messy.

2. There are two of us, and so we each have 1/2 the stuff---and it always goes in the same place.

3. We do like stuff bags etc. The food goes in the bear can. The sleeping bag and pad go in the bottom of the pack. The water bottles go in the outside pockets. Tent in one pack, cook kit in the other...

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check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#189391 - 02/25/15 08:54 PM Re: Organization [Re: aimless]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Bring fewer items, not all needs to be in a bag, maybe just small items, store gear in the same place all the time in your pack. I use stuff sacks for my shelter and sb usually, a freezer bag for matches, eating utensils, fire/lighting stuff and a freezer bag for toiletries/FAK and another for TP. The TP could go in the utensil bag on weekend trips. On weekend/o/n trips, food can go in the pot, longer trips, I may use a plastic grocery bag if in areas where there is little bear activity, if bears may be around, a canister. My summer packs have 1 to 4 pockets, my winter pack 3 if you count the front pocket which is deep. Some of us did a 12 item trip last Summer in Lassen VNP, fun trip, did not shake people down to see what they had, I'm sure not all adhered. smile
Duane


Edited by hikerduane (02/25/15 08:57 PM)

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#189394 - 02/26/15 08:20 AM Re: Organization [Re: Jim M]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I use colored stuff sacks, but since I got them all at Wal-Mart I have at least two of each color.

That helps a little, but it always seems the one I want is under all the others. cry
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#189396 - 02/26/15 10:25 AM Re: Organization [Re: Jim M]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I'm sort of an obsessive sewer of little and medium size bags. I make them from left-over scraps of silnylon and no-see-um netting. I make the silnylon bags in several colors (color coding) and use a micro-cord-lock on the drawstrings of all of the bags.

I keep my small cooking stuff in one silnylon (water-resistant) bag, my FAK in another, my bug and sun stuff in another and so on. I then use the mesh bags to coral the smaller bags. The mesh is light, transparent and amazingly sturdy. I can see the contents in each mesh bag so there is no groping for an item. I cary one mesh bag in the pack for items used in camp and another in an outside pack pocket for stuff needed during the day. So, all of the little stuff is contained in one of two mesh bags. And, in fact, I don't really carry that much "little stuff".

I am also obsessive about keeping things put in their assigned place while on a trip. This saves me the frustration involved in looking for small stuff and also the annoyance of loosing small items because they are scattered around camp. Total weight of the bags is a bit over two ounces.

All of the other gear has an assigned place in my pack. On longer trips, as food is consumed, the placement of various gear items in my pack will change. I suspect that this approach sounds a bit Teutonic to a lot of folks but it works for me.
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#189397 - 02/26/15 10:30 AM Re: Organization [Re: Jim M]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
If you're not a fan of purely theoretical thought exercises, you can skip this post.

My degree is in computer science. One of the things we learned is what's called a binary search. Basically, the idea is that, when you're looking for an item, you can find it most quickly, on average, if you can eliminate half the remaining possibilities every step of the way. What this means for packing is you'd be most efficient packing exactly half your items in one sack and the other half in another. Then within each of those big sacks, the items are further divided into exactly half in two smaller sacks, and so on, down until the point where you only have two items in each sack.

Of course, in real life, this doesn't really work out so well because of the overhead of opening up (and repacking) extra sacks, but if you're going to be packing things in individual stuff sacks anyway, it might (?) pay off to alter your packing scheme, just ever so slightly, with this principal in mind.

Anyone feel like trying it?

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#189398 - 02/26/15 10:38 AM Re: Organization [Re: 4evrplan]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Pika was writing his reply at the same time I was, so I didn't see it until after I posted. His packing scheme does sort of use the binary search principle, since he's using groupings with bags within bags, but he's not going overboard to the point where opening extra bags kills any advantage. And, the idea of using see through mesh for the larger bags is genius. I like it.

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#189406 - 02/26/15 12:38 PM Re: Organization [Re: 4evrplan]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Napa, CA
Well--we start with two packs---so that is binary right from the get-go.

And then we go to inside the pack, or outside the pack (pockets, bungies, etc.)

As an FYI---we put no small things inside the pack--those all go in an outside pocket of some kind, so that we are never digging around in a large space for a small object.

And then top of pack or bottom of pack...

And it gets pretty easy at that point!
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#189420 - 02/26/15 09:33 PM Re: Organization [Re: 4evrplan]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
I have no problem with a good organizational plan to start with. The problem is putting everything back where it belongs on a regular basis! The biggest culprit is getting in a hurry- like they say "the hurrieder I go the behinder I get". One big issue with me is keeping the bear canister organized. I pack it with each day's food in a layer. But then I decide that I really do not want to do rice and beans that I had planned, so I dig for macs and cheese and do not put things back in order. It all works out in the end. Maybe it causes me to be a bit slower in camp, but so what. One thing I do religiously, is to thoroughly check the campsite before I leave to be sure I have not left anything behind.

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#189433 - 02/27/15 12:11 PM Re: Organization [Re: Jim M]
beber Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/15
Posts: 20
I know this is sacrilege on this site, but I'd rather have a few extra ounces of stuff sacks and such to be organized. I have stuff sacks for sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, clothes, food, kitchen, general small items, and an empty plastic peanut butter jar that is my first aid/emergency container. I bet that is 3/4 lb in organization. crazy

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#189434 - 02/27/15 12:18 PM Re: Organization [Re: wandering_daisy]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
I have no problem with a good organizational plan to start with. The problem is putting everything back where it belongs on a regular basis! The biggest culprit is getting in a hurry- like they say "the hurrieder I go the behinder I get". One big issue with me is keeping the bear canister organized. I pack it with each day's food in a layer. But then I decide that I really do not want to do rice and beans that I had planned, so I dig for macs and cheese and do not put things back in order. It all works out in the end. Maybe it causes me to be a bit slower in camp, but so what. One thing I do religiously, is to thoroughly check the campsite before I leave to be sure I have not left anything behind.


Been there, done that. Many, many times!
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#189438 - 02/27/15 01:58 PM Re: Organization [Re: balzaccom]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'm really careful about checking the campsite before I leave, but I did once leave an important--and expensive--item behind. I had just had one of my expensive bouts of dental work done, and part of that was a partial denture. I was on my first backpacking trip after getting it. The last morning, I laid the denture on top of a stump while I washed the rest of my teeth. Being in a big hurry (wanting to get back to my air-conditioned car at the trailhead before the temp got into the upper 90s), I cut things short and, guess what--left the denture on the stump! I didn't realize this until I was almost back to the trailhead, and, despite the $$$ involved, I wasn't about to hike back 6 miles and 2,500 feet elevation gain in 90-degree temperatures. (It got up to 99*F that afternoon.)

Fortunately, through the then-new portlandhikers.com forum (now oregonhikers.org), I found someone who was going there a few days later. He found the denture where I'd left it and we arranged to meet after he returned from his trip. That's the best argument for a local hiking network that I can think of!

My dentist thought this was really funny and no doubt told all his patients. blush

A couple years later, two crowns broke off that were supporting the partial denture, so I had to get another one. I really wish I'd had everything pulled to start with and gone to complete dentures--the amount of money I've spent on restorative dentistry, only to have another crown break off within a few years, is horrendous. And I do take good care of my teeth!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#189443 - 02/27/15 05:09 PM Re: Organization [Re: 4evrplan]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By 4evrplan
One of the things we learned is what's called a binary search


What a great way to describe that. My colored pairs of stuff sacks work that way, though I'd never thought about it like that.

Dark Blue (1) Tent stakes, tie offs, ect.
Black (1) Clothes.
Red (2) FAK or Toiletries.
Blue (2) Snacks or Small Gear.
Green (3) Lunch/Dinner or Kitchen or Tent.

I can narrow down which of the those colors I want by feeling them.

Like W_D, points out, the trick is forecasting what you'll want on top the next time you dig in your pack and bags for stuff. I'm not very good at that.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#189483 - 03/01/15 11:03 PM Re: Organization [Re: Jim M]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I like climbing packs with one large compartment and "top pocket".

I start by pushing my down air mattress, down sleeping bag, down coat, and foam pillow into the bottom of the pack. Then gloves hats and tent. On top of that goes my stove and cookware, not in any kind of cases, and the food on top and maybe rain gear above the food. Everything is put in, in the order in which it will be needed. Sometimes the tent goes outside the pack, or on top, so it can be removed and set up in case of a blizzard without having to open the pack to the weather until its inside the tent. I used to have an huge 8 ounce liner bag for a northface pack, so you would leave a frozen pack outside or in the vestibule and pull the clean dry liner bag into your tent. it doubled as a bivy footsack.

Everything else gets tossed into the small pocket on top of the pack (and its mostly empty). And no I don't have even one stuff sack.
Jim
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#189638 - 03/12/15 05:51 PM Re: Organization [Re: Jimshaw]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
A couple years ago I bought a front pouch and a couple pouches for my hip belt. All the little stuff went into those little pouches. The only things left are big (sleeping bag, tent, cook kit, food (snacks for the day are in the little pouches out front), clothing. I do what Jim does and stuff it in at a certain order. No stuff sacks.
I really like the front pouches because I don't have to "dig" in my pack until I get to my next camp or lunch time. Lunch and rain gear on top, so not much digging there either.
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#189640 - 03/12/15 08:00 PM Re: Organization [Re: finallyME]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I have a problem with hip belt pockets in that I tend to forget what's in which pocket. I don't know how many times I've opened both pockets searching for something small like a lip balm stick. Fortunately only my day pack has this feature.

My backpack dates from before hip belt pockets became popular, so I bought a separate one from Mountain Laurel Designs and sewed it to my pack's hip belt. I also have a shoulder strap pocket (for camera and sunglasses) from ZPacks. With one of each, no problems!


Edited by OregonMouse (03/12/15 08:02 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#189841 - 03/25/15 06:24 AM Re: Organization [Re: wandering_daisy]
KyHiker40 Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/09/12
Posts: 14
Loc: Louisville, KY
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
I pack it with each day's food in a layer. But then I decide that I really do not want to do rice and beans that I had planned, so I dig for macs and cheese and do not put things back in order.

Ah-hah! I had this problem until I found a perfect solution (for me anyhow.) I now pack my dinner's separate from my breakfast and snacks, allowing me the flexibility of choosing a dinner each evening. So now packing food becomes easy. I just grab 1 breakfast and 6 snacks for every morning on the trail, putting every morning into a separate gallon size zip lock. I eat my breakfast, place the 6 snacks in my hip & shoulder pouches, then move on for the day. When I get to camp at night I remove the food bag with all my dinner choices and get to pick what i'm in the mood for. Works well for me.

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