OK--for those who may have too much time on their hands...
Of course you want to fold up your ground sheet into as small a package as possible, but there is also that old physics/math problem: you can't fold any piece of paper (or other material) more than seven times.
Here's our solution for getting your ground sheet into a nice, tidy, and small package.
First make sure it is dry and clean. In the rain, all bets are off. Stuff and go.
The first fold is across the longitudinal axis--making it half as long, but still as wide.
The second fold goes the other way, so that now you have two edges that have folds on them, and two that do not. That's important. Keeping those unfolded edges clear is how you make sure you fold all the air out of your ground sheet.
Fold one more time, again, back along the longitudinal axis.
You now have a ground sheet that is roughly 1/8 the size of the original. Good.
Now the truly tricky part. Fold the thing in thirds, folding first the side with the open edges and then the side with the folds on the edge. This gives you a long strip of ground sheet, almost like a tube, and the only open edges are at the end of the long strip.
Now the second secret. Begin to fold this long strip from the folded end towards the open edges end. Fold over about 1/5 or 1/4 off the ground sheet. Smooth out that fold, and do that again. This forms a nice, tidy block at the top of the strip, and still leaves the open edges at the bottom.
Now begin rolling from the folded section towards the open edged end. It will roll into a very tidy package.
Stuff it into your pack, and look for a way to wash your hands. It's too late, You've already packed everything up, the ground sheet was what you used to keep everything clean while you folded and stuffed everything else into your pack.
But everybody is waiting for you.
Time to hit the trail.
Next up--how to get your tent back into the bag it came in.
And since backpackers do it intents...the real challenge is getting the tent back in the bag.
Start by laying the tent out flat on top of the ground sheet. Fling all the guy lines into the middle of the tent--don't leave them hanging around outside.
The next step is easier with two people, but I do it on my own all the time--fold the two sides of the tent in towards the middle, so that they meet in the middle. Now you have a tent that is half as wide, but still full length.
Fold the right half of the tent over so that it just covers the left half of the tent. Now you have a tent that is 1/4 as wide, and still full length--it should be about the same width as your tents poles, once they are taken apart. If it's not, adjust the width of the tent now with a little more accurate folding.
Take one end of the tent and fold it about 2/3 of the way up towards the other and of the tent. and place the tent poles about six inches in from this fold. They should be just about the same width as the tent is now.
Slowly roll the tent up around the tent poles. If you need to, fold in the edges as you roll to make sure that the finished roll isn't much wider than the tent poles. By leaving the far end without any folds, you allow all the air to escape the tent, and it will roll up nice and compactly.
Follow the same technique with the rain fly, if you have one. fold in the sides towards the middle, and repeat until it is the same width at the poles, Fold one end up towards the other end, at least halfway. 2/3 of the way it better.
Place the tent roll on the folded end of the rain fly and start rolling it up .
Once it is rolled up, slip it into the bag. It will fit. It helps to have a second person hold the tent bag, but again, I've done this lots of times on my own. Stuff the tent into your pack.
Oops. Forgot the tent stakes. Put them into their own little bag and shove them down into the tent bag. If you can't reach that, then just shove them down into your pack. Either way, hope they don't poke a hole in something important.
When you are done, your hands are filthy, but don't wash them, because you have to fold up the ground sheet next.
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
"Next up--how to get your tent back into the bag it came in."
Ah, yes--looking forward to this one!
You can find lots of videos online on how to setup various models of tents. I sometimes watch them before setting a tent up the first time; usually never again after that. What is hard to find is videos on how to fold the tent back up. I found one for my tarptent and I watch it before every outing with that tent. Without watching the video I don't stand a chance of getting it back into the bag.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
My ground sheet is plastic, so if I fold it this way, it will trap air and make it bigger. My solution is to fold only in one direction repeatedly until I have a long thin strip. Then I fold in a flap at one end, just a few inches. Then again and again, like rolling, only it's flat(ish). I squeeze the air out with each roll/fold, so it pushes out all the extra air as I go and ends up much smaller.
The journey is more important than the destination.
And now an old favorite: Packing you r bear canister
It's not a science, but more like an art.
Step One: First you have to get all of your food together: the freeze-dried dinners, the soup packets, the instant oatmeal and cocoa, the energy bars and the gorp, the dried fruit and salami, bread or crackers. It all has to go into that little plastic barrel.
Step Two: Take everything out of its prepackaged wrapper. Pour the freeze-dried dinners into zip-lock bags, so they take up less room. Open the dried fruit packages, squeeze all the air our of them, then re-seal them with their finger seal. Remove all extraneous paper wrappings, cardboard, etc. If you are taking bread, squeeze it down into a much smaller dimension, and then put it in the freezer over night. It will take up less room, and stay fresher that way.
Step Three: take the first night's dinner and set it aside. It doesn't have to go in the can, nor does the first day's lunch or snack. Whew! That makes it a little easier.
Step Four: imagine all of this fitting into that little plastic can. And imagine how you are going to use this stuff. Start by putting a couple of days' breakfasts and dinner down into the bottom of the can. You won't need these for the first few days, and it's better to get them out of the way.
Step Five: Now stack all those energy bars around the side of the can. This is the most efficient use of space for these bars, and this way they are more or less easy to grab. As you stack them in there, use more breakfasts or dinners to hold them in place.
Step Six: now it's time for the stuff in the middle. Take your salami, cheese, and anything else you are going to eat for lunch and pack it in the middle of the can. You'll need to access this stuff every day, so there is no point putting it in the bottom.
Step Seven: Toss in the last breakfast--that's what you'll need first thing in the morning on the second day, and it makes sense to put this on top. Hooray! It all fits perfectly!
Step Eight: Inform your wife that the bear canister is now packed for the trail. She asks if you want to put the toiletries in there as well.
Step Nine: Take the sunscreen, moisturizer, insect repellent, toothpaste, and face cream from your wife. Go back to the bear can and start shoving it in. With a little bit of luck and some brute force, you'll be able to wedge this stuff in between the salami and the cheese, and maybe shove one down the side with the energy bars. That last tube of face cream is just going to get mashed on top...and let's hope it doesn't jam the lid when you try to unscrew everything
Step Ten: Inform your wife that the bear canister is now packed for the trail. She asks if you remembered the bread.
Step Eleven: Take the bread out of the freezer. Unpack the entire can and start again, shoving things together even harder. Forget trying to keep the noodles in once piece. Sacrifice the crispy crackers and turn them into powder to gain more space. Mash the bread into a solid ball, then shove the final toiletries on top and jam the lid in place. Slowly screw the lid down, listening for structural failure in the bear can.
Step Twelve: Inform your wife that the bear canister is now packed for the trail. She asks if you remembered to put the soap in.
Step Thirteen: Put the soap in a side pocket of your pack, along with the last two energy bars, a tube of neo-sporin, and the raisins your wife just bought at the store.
Step Fourteen: Inform the ranger at the trailhead that all your food and odorized items are in the bear can.
Step Fifteen: Start hiking. Hope for the best. Inform your wife that next time, we'll have take less stuff.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Essential tool for packing bear can: a hammer or mallet. Use it on your pasta and anything else that can be reduced to crumbs.
Re pasta: Believe it or not, cous-cous is a form of pasta, saves the smashing, and is so much more packable. Once you've gone through the pasta-smashing and crumb-eating bit, you'll remember to buy cous-cous for your next trip! Unlike rice and quinoa, it hydrates instantly in hot water!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
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