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#159416 - 01/01/12 07:58 PM What do you do with your stuff?
HeikeDog Offline

Registered: 12/07/11
Posts: 19
Loc: South Texas
Inside or outside the tent at night? I don't mean food, which might attract animals if inside the tent, but the backpack itself and all the contents? Is there an unwritten honor code among backpackers that you don't touch someone else's stuff even if it appears to be unattended?

Along those lines, do you set up your camp and leave your stuff there if you want to do day hikes in an area, or do you take all your stuff with you (tent included?) everywhere you go? When T and I go to Big Bend in March, we'll only be hiking 6-7 miles a day between campsites at a sedate, scenery-enjoying pace, but there are shorter hikes off the main trail that we'd like to do. It would be nice to be able to hike to the location for the night, set up the tent, leave our stuff and then backtrack to do some of the shorter hikes. Generally speaking, would it be safe to leave our stuff unattended in the backcountry?

#159419 - 01/01/12 08:07 PM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
oldranger Offline

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Generally, the further you are into the back country the safer your stuff will be if left unattended. Generally,I have left things like the tent and sleeping bag, stove, etc. unattended with no problems but bear in mind that I am speaking of past conditions and I was well back in areas where there were very few people. Be discreet and careful; if there are a fair number of people around, I would not take too many chances. Keep the really good silver teapot secure.

#159421 - 01/01/12 08:13 PM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
Banjopickin Offline

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 58
Loc: NC
At camp I always keep everything inside my tarp just in case I need something quick or if it rains. Unfortunately crime happens everywhere and if you leave something sitting out unattended theres always a chance someone or something will take it. I always camp way off trail away from established campsites. This seems to help me avoid all that negatives associated with established campsites. IMO, established campsites are just giant latrines covered in sooty ash from countless fires, and with people passing by you increase the chances of a negative encounter. There is no "unwritten code". Honest people will leave your stuff alone and dis-honest folks might take it. My advice is camp well off trail and out of sight of others. If you stash your gear and leave it unattended, make sure no one will find it other than you. If your in an area that only allows camping at established campsites then I would just carry everything with me all the time, rather than taking a chance. But the choice is really a personal one. When I do come across random gear sitting on the trail, I take a picture/detailed description and leave it be. Good luck to ya

Climb the Mountains and get their good tidings...
-John Muir

#159438 - 01/01/12 10:26 PM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If I'm in a hammock, the pack and extra clothes get hung from one end. There's usually not much left once everything's set up for the night.

In a tent my pack goes at my feet and extra clothes go in a stuff sack to be a pillow.

The 10 essentials usually stay with the pack either way. Pot and stove sit out ready for breakfast. Shoes go in the vestibule or on the ground alongside the hammock, waiting for me to swing my feet out into them. Light usually goes in my sun hat, with my camera, wallet and biner that carries my Micra, whistle and emergency LED light on it. If I have fishing gear it usually sits out too.

I only worry about theft in very heavily used areas, such as Yosemite between 4 - 15 miles from the trailhead. And the trekking poles never get put on the ground anymore, since the marmots chewed off the handles once. They dangle from the hammock suspension or some convenient branch.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

#159443 - 01/02/12 12:38 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
Steadman Offline

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 514
Loc: Virginia
My system is not as advanced as lori's, but...

If I'm leaving camp, everything gets secured so that it won't get wet.

Night, same thing. I've been gathering up most gear and putting it in my pack - pack usually is outside the tent for space considerations. Light is inside the tent, shoes are in the beak of the tent, or inside.

Bearbag gets hung away from camp.

#159449 - 01/02/12 01:23 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
aimless Online   content

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3187
Loc: Portland, OR
My system is purely my own. Everyone develops their own way of doing this stuff.

I have a solo tent without enough interior space to bring my pack inside along with me. What does go inside, aside from the sleeping bag and pad, are my clothes bag (used as a pillow), a variety of small items I might want in the night or morning, a water bottle, my book and headlight, and a few more odds and ends. My shoes go right outside the tent door, inside the vestibule.

This leaves very little still inside my pack. I have a super-sized sil-nylon dry bag that can be used as a pack liner on wet days. I generally place my entire pack inside that bag and leave the pack about 100 feet from my tent, in case small animals come investigate it and make small animal noises to bother me (they never gnaw on the outer bag for some reason). This protects the entire pack from dew or rain.

#159450 - 01/02/12 01:57 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Online   content

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Looks like we're all different. I use my pack as part of my pillow. Of course food/smellables are outside in my Ursack. My shoes are just inside the door, because I normally have to make several trips outside during the night (what old age and childbearing do to us females!). I also like to keep the vestibule/beak tied back for more ventilation and views unless it's pouring down rain. Unless it's horizontal rain, the vestibule stays at least halfway open anyway. As a result, there's usually no place outside to keep my shoes dry. My headlamp is in my shoes, easiest place to find it in the dark. Other items I need in the tent (headlamp, reading material, reading glasses) are alongside my pack/pillow.

My dog's pack (minus food/treats stored in the Ursack), often both muddy and hairy, is stuffed into a plastic trash bag and stored at the foot of the tent. My dog sleeps either at my feet or alongside of me, depending on whether or not I'm sharing the tent with a grandchild.

If I'm not moving camp and am dayhiking during the day, everything (except the Ursack) is secured inside the tent and the tent is closed up completely. I usually want my trekking poles for a dayhike, so I take them out, collapse the tent and put rocks on top so it stays on top of my gear inside.

I try to camp in isolated spots well away and hidden from trails or popular camp sites, and I never leave valuables (camera or things like money/ID/credit cards) in the tent when I'm gone. Nor do I leave my pack alone (especially since it has my money/ID/credit cards in a special inside pocket that Six Moon Designs put there for this purpose). I treat my pack as though it were my purse; it goes everywhere with me.

Edited by OregonMouse (01/02/12 02:03 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#159456 - 01/02/12 08:23 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Offline

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I bring everything except perhaps the food bag and, maybe, the stove and pot inside the tent. (IMPORTANT NOTE: I hike and camp mostly in southern Ohio and Indiana, where there have not been bear sightings. If I'm in one of the spots in those areas where bears have been sighted, or in Kentucky or Virginia, I will hang the food, stove, and pot.)

I use a small solo tent (MSR Hubba or Carbon Reflex 1) and a 45 or 50 liter pack (Osprey Kestrel 48 or Talon 44.) If I'm using a 48" sleeping pad, the pack goes under my feet and lower legs, to extend the pad length. (This doesn't work with trampoline-style back pads like the Osprey Atmos series and a number of other packs have.) If I'm using a long pad, the pack goes crosswise in the tent as the base of my pillow, like OM describes. My shoes go on the door side of the tent, lined up along the edge of the pad. This keeps them handy for those nocturnal strolls (age is equally unkind to males, OM) and incidentally keeps the pad from sliding around as I roll or wiggle in my sleep.

Used as a pillow base, the pack's shove-it pocket holds my inflated Dromlite as the main pillow. The pack also makes a convenient "closet" for empty stuff sacks, the rain suit, and any extra clothing I've brought (down or pile jacket, for example.) My headlamp and glasses go in the little pocket on the side of the tent, and other gear stores in the small spaces left around the pack. The reason this system works for me is that there's not a lot of other gear to stow. The first aid kit stays in the lid of the pack, along with my wallet and car keys. The toilet paper and trowel, water bottle, water filter, and map case are all that's left, and they easily fit in the little nooks and crannies between the pack and the tent walls.

Securing a campsite is rarely a problem, since I tend to arrive near dark (no little side hikes after making camp) and stay only one night. I simply pack up in the morning, and my pack never leaves me during the day (again, like OM...well, maybe I don't think of it as my purse...)

#159458 - 01/02/12 09:34 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
Blue_Ridge_Ninja Offline

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 98
Loc: North Georgia
Since I'm a hammocker, storing gear inside at night isn't really an option. My pack hangs from one end of the support ropes under the rain fly. Headlight and weapon (if I'm carrying one) are the only things I keep inside with me. Boots stay in one of the attached pockets under my hammock bed. If I'm away from camp, I'll store my gear in my hammock so it looks like it's occupied.

#159461 - 01/02/12 11:30 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: Blue_Ridge_Ninja]
balzaccom Online   content

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2100
Loc: Napa, CA
Food and smellies are in a bear can, since we usually hike in the High Sierra, and the National Parks there require them.

Everything else is in the pack near the tent, with the following exceptions:

Shoes are just outside the tent, under the flap-0just in case, as OM suggested.

The kitchen: pot, stove and dishes, are carefully washed and clean. Left out on a nearby rock ready for breakfast the next morning.

Clothes that have been washed are drying on bushes or rocks nearby.

And if I plan to go fishing early the next morning, the fly rod is ready to go, leaning on a tree.

So basically the whole campsite looks like the Joad Family Goes Hiking.

And if it looks like rains, we'll put everything in the packs, and toss the packs down at the very end of our tent.

Except the bear can, of course.
Check our our website:

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra;

#159467 - 01/02/12 12:26 PM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: balzaccom]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
Much of my gear is multi-functional. My pack is used as a pillow base, extra clothing stuffed in the sleeping bag stuff sack and used as a pillow. Cook gear and stove are left at my cook area, and I have a bright colored light-weight zip bag that I put all those little loose things in so nothing gets lost (TP, maps, ditty bag minus smellies, etc). Water bottle and chapstick go just outside the tent door. I am parinoid about leaking water bottles. Shoes go at foot of tent inside. All food and "smellies" go in the bear cannister. Trekking poles get hung up. Marmots also will chew up your pack if it is left out.

When I go out for a day hike, I take just about everything with me except tent and sleeping bag. My regular backpack has compression straps so that it doubles as a day pack. Be sure to zip down the tent fly and check that the tent is securely tethered to the ground! I always tie each end to a VERY big rock, in additon to the tent stakes. People have come back to camp finding that their tent blew away during a storm!

I have never worried about theft, but I hike in pretty remote areas.

In general, the less stuff you take, the less you have to worry about. Think carefully about each item - do you really need it?

#159473 - 01/02/12 01:38 PM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Online   content

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6765
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Hooray, finally someone else who uses the pack for a pillow!

I know quite a few who put their packs under their legs so they don't have to carry a full-length sleeping pad. My pack doesn't have any padding at the back (I use the dog's CCF sleeping pad there), so it would just be two thicknesses of nylon, not much padding! Anyway, I sleep on my side curled in the fetal position, so my feet are still on my short pad.

I forgot to mention that my tent is held up with my trekking poles, which is why I have to collapse it when going day-hiking. I agree with wandering_daisy that it's vitally important to stake the tent down extra well--you never know what will blow up while you're gone. If your tent is free-standing, always stake it down securely! I read one potential horror story (I think it was on this forum a few years ago) in which a tent blew off a cliff in the Canyonlands area with all the owners' gear inside, fortunately just a few minutes after the owners had removed their baby from it!

My current tent fortunately uses the trekking poles with the handgrip at the top. I far prefer this configuration; I've always been worried about a porcupine coming to gnaw the salty handgrip while I'm asleep!

Edited by OregonMouse (01/02/12 01:39 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#159509 - 01/03/12 12:24 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: HeikeDog]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3973
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I have an $800 pack - I decided it was worth an extra pound of tent weight to have the room for my pack inside with me {with all of my gear in it]. Turns out it probably didn't take an extra pound.

Anyway depending on where you are and what you are doing, your life could depend on that pack and gear, and leaving it outside, to my way of thought, is just asking for an epic trip. I know people who hang everything in a tree and turn their pack out for the animals to have their way with. My stuff including first aid kit, tooth paste, suns screen and lip balm stay next to me.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#159513 - 01/03/12 01:21 AM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: Jimshaw]
bigfoot2 Offline

Registered: 09/17/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Eugene , Oregon
"My stuff including first aid kit, tooth paste, suns screen and lip balm stay next to me.

You've just been lucky not to have run into trouble doing this. Luck eventually runs out, though... frown

BF cool
Hammockers aren't stuck up, they're just above it all.

#159615 - 01/04/12 04:54 PM Re: What do you do with your stuff? [Re: bigfoot2]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Hey, Bigfoot2 is back. Good to hear from ya.

I put all my stuff under something in case of rain.

Sometimes I want to leave my stuff and go explore. If the campsite is out of the way, then I usually just hide it in a bush and make it rain proof. Sometimes I really try and hide it. Most backpackers I have met are very honest and won't touch your stuff. But, I just don't trust anyone, so I hide my stuff if I plan to leave it.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.


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