Monday, August 24, 2009

Tips for Staying Organized While Backpacking or Bicycle Touring

I'm a pretty unorganized girl in my day to day, but I really hate being unorganized on big trips. There is nothing like pulling into camp, sitting down to eat your bean/ soup/ something canned dinner to discover you forgot your can opener or that it is in the very bottom of your backpack. How about having to completely empty out a pannier to find your sunblock? Yup, I think we've all been there before.

Our Camp

Recently, I've been finding that I am getting better and better at staying organized on big trips. Here are some ideas that have been working for me lately:

Put Things Back in the Same Place Every time

After years of throwing things around camp trying to find the what's-it-majigger I've found this tip to be the most helpful. When I take out my headlamp from my front pocket, it goes back in my front pocket. Same with all those frequently used goodies.

Bike Touring

Keep Similar Items Together

I'm betting that we all sort of know this theory, but it is a great one in action. All the cook stuff sticks together in one spot. Repair kits and first aid things all together. It can be a little tricky keeping all the food together, since this typically weighs the most and you need to spread it carefully in your backpack or panniers, but for everything else I find it helpful to group them together.

Use Small Lightweight Bags to Keep Organized

I like to have a few small bags organizing my things. For instance my cleaning up stuff (toothpaste, etc). This can be tricky though because each little bag adds more weight and if you have too many bags it actually doesn't help you stay organized at all. So think a few small bags for things. And also, one can never have too many ziplock bags.

Ortlieb Panniers On the Road

Pringles on top- always

Watch Out for Sharp Objects

This can be a real rooky mistake, but be careful where you keep your camp utensils- even your spoon. These items can easily rip through the many plastic bags you have waterproofing your sleeping bag- just setting you up for disaster. I try to keep all sharp things in a small pocket away from anything really important.

Think About Your Day

This is sort of odd but if you think about how your day will go- types of areas you'll be crossing (gaiters?), weather that may roll in, etc. it can help you pack better. I try to always, always, always keep my rain gear right on top. It really is much better than emptying your whole bag while it is down pouring.

I also like to keep a fleece near the top too for unexpected stops or weather. Food, sunblock, camera, are also all things that I like to keep accessible.

Backpack and Boots

What About You?

So what works for you? Any tips that will help the rest of us disheveled folks stay organized?


Red Bike said...

The best thing i've found has been dry bags.

bettymountaingirl said...

Dry bags are a sweet idea. I only have one and hardly ever think to use it for these types of trips. Several of the ladies that rode with me on the bike tour in Maine used dry bags loaded on the back of their bikes.