Tag Archives: packing

Left Behind

There are many factors that make an adventure experience enjoyable. The places you go, the people you go with, the interactions with the locals, and even the equipment you are using.

For me though, the simplicity of equipment, or perhaps more specific…..the simplicity of access to the things you need. I hate pulling into a potential camping area, getting to a hotel or crash pad, or simply pulling over for a lunch stop, and rearranging the entire back of my rig to get to a tent, clothing, bag, or cooler.
Obviously part of this is an organizational problem. Knowing where to store and pack your items. Having a specific place for an item. Knowing which bag, box, or compartment that something is stored in. Having a spot that the bag or box needs to be placed in each time. We have solved part of this by constructing shelf, box, and drawer systems for our rigs. This takes time, a bit of creativity, a small monetary investment, and basic woodworking skills (and in my case, first aid when a drill bit goes through the finger).

Something that is much more controllable is taking what you need and only what you need. Many of us have a tendency to over pack. While there are idioms out there such as “take half the clothes and twice the cash” are helpful, they really don’t address what is truly needed to be taken, or more important what not to take on a trip.

I use a two-step process that requires a few shakedown trips (hey…more travel opportunities)…
First- I keep a list in my journal for that specific trip of the items I need to pack, the items I had to buy because I didn’t pack but needed, and most important the items I did not use. Things like first-aid kits or other essentials get a free pass if you didn’t use it though. A bird watching book, a novel, a spare jacket, etc that never get pulled from my pack are placed on the list of things I didn’t use. Searching for a store open at midnight that sells deodorant at midnight in London because I packed a new brand that dies after the first hour gets an annotation in the list of things to pack for the next trip.

The other technique is when I get home, I divide my bag into two piles. Stuff I used and stuff I didn’t use. I find that on the next trip, I can reduce the size of my bag. Speaking of bags, I should probably mention that I limit my bag size and then make tough choices to only fill 80% of the bag. This allows for space when you find gifts and souvenirs in the sook or market area.

I should probably mention recovery day packing. My wife is a trooper. She has followed me on multi-day mountain bike trips, put-up with a week in a frozen tundra, explored trails in 100+ temps for days at a time….but at the end of roughing it…she needs a hotel, a restaurant that offers valet parking, and room service. For this we pack a recovery bag. We keep a separate bag that does not get rained on, cross-pollenated with field clothing, and stays in the rig packed well away from everything we use on the trail. Whether its just Melissa and me, or if Abby is along, we place all of our clothes, shampoo, soap, socks, and shoes, even swim suits into the recovery bag. This makes the trip home more enjoyable and relaxing. When Abby and I did a section of the Continental Divide, we forgot her pants for her recovery bag. We wound up having to wash her pants in the shower and dry them with a hair dryer. A big plus for Exofficio clothing!

Sometimes leaving something behind is a tough choice. Reducing your load will help you in staying organized and take stress out of your trip. Nothing can beat experience, and I strongly recommend doing several shakedown trips prior to your major adventure.

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Luggable Loo

Ok…so here we are going to talk crap. This blog is not for the meek….we are going to get personal in this post. We are talking about doing your business in the woods.

When talking with people who at the most, have camped in an RV or a campground, and not taken a multi-day trip completely self-supported, the primary question I get asked (usually in a very quiet tone) is where do we do the business of doo….its an honest question, because at some point in your travel, you have to download.

This can be problematic not just for those who have not had the experience of finding a special spot to squat. Add in weather, children, lack of flora and fauna, maybe a stomach bug. Having a place near your camp that is sanitary, convienent, and private is important.

This last year during the Idaho Overland we kicked off our test of the Luggable Loo by Reliance. We already had a history of using many of their products. They build great consumer grade products that ar reasonably affordable. Because Abby is now getting to the age where she needs a bit more privacy and she was the only girl on the trip, I wanted a solution that offered her a place to do what she needed to do. I also knew that our trip was going to take us through a few barren areas that did not offer concealment. We were also not using any kind of established camp grounds, we were totaly self-supported.

The Luggable Loo was one part of this equation (a privacy shelter that I will do in another blog was the other). The portable unit is a toilet seat with a locking lid to help control odors. It is designed to be attatched to the top of a 5-gallon pickle bucket. You can either by the unit alon or with a bucket. Since I have plenty of buckets like this, I opted to use my own.

For waste collection, I used two thick trash bags that I pre-lined with cedar shavings. I pre-set six of these double-bagged sets for the trip. As we pulled into camp each night, we would set up the privacy shelter and the Luggable Loo. Each morning, it was the last item to be packed and the waste bags were tied and secured with a zip tie, and placed into a third bag, which was desposed of when we came to a dumpster or collection site on the road. Opting to not carry the waste in the Jeep, they were held for transport in a Trassharoo, which is a trash container that hooks up to the spare tire on the back.

For backside cleaning, we kept a couple roles of TP stored in coffee cans along with baby-wipes. Be sure to store your TP role in a ziplock bag when not in use, even in dry seasons, the roll will absorb any moisture in the air. We also would “flush” the bucket after the bags were removed with a squirt of vinegar as a sanitary precaution.

We were very happy with the Luggable Loo. the only downside for us in a tightly packed Jeep is the space it takes. Unlike other prtables I have used, it sits high enough from the ground and places you in the proper “buisiness position”. in fact, its comfortable enough, youo can even take a book or the morning paper with you to read….

Reliance also has a collapsable toilet it sells that we are hoping to test soon.

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