How to Pack like a Pro in 9 Simple Steps
Having done a few adventures in my life, I’ve come to know a thing or two about packing. From being overly prepared and carrying a blow dryer that I never used, to being woefully unprepared and not bringing enough socks, I’ve tried everything. It wasn’t until I received a professional packing lesson from my guide friend, Cole Kramer, in Alaska that my packing style changed forever.
Let’s start with the pack. For reference, the one I use is an Osprey Aura 50 and it can hold everything I need for a multiday trip. I’ve also been able to use it as a carry-on item for flights which is highly recommended.
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Tip 1: Grab your travel bag or pack a week or two ahead of your trip and start a packing pile. My dad taught me it’s best practice to start the packing process early and add items to your pile as soon as you think of them. Once you’re a few days from leaving for your trip you can then go through the pile and decide what’s absolutely necessary. (If you’re like me, it’s narrowing down your pant/legging collection from 10 to 2-3.)
Tip 2: On that note, you only need to bring about HALF the stuff you pack originally. Bringing “just in case” items add weight and often unnecessary clutter. If you ever find yourself packing something as a “just in case”, chances are you won’t use it. (Hence, my above-mentioned blow dryer dilemma.)
Tip 3: Stuff sacks are a lifeline. The stuff sacks allow you to stay organized and compartmentalize your pack. Try to find a few different color sacks so you know exactly what is inside of each one. This eliminates the issue of having to rummage through your entire pack looking for something, but instead can know exactly what is in each one. This style of packing also makes it easier to get started when you have an early morning. (Hugely beneficial, since I’m usually the only girl on trips and it’s expected that I take longer than others. This was a game changer.)
Tip 4: Rolling your pants, shirt, and socks helps to save space. You’ll find that you can fit most of your clothing into a smaller space, like a stuff sack, than if you were to fold and stack your clothing.
Tip 5: Go carry on when you can. If you’re not carrying something that requires tons of space like a sleeping bag, helmets, multiple pairs of shoes, etc., see if you can fit your belongings into your pack, or carry-on size luggage. You can also wear your boots on the flight to save space.
Tip 6: Speaking of boots and shoes, they take up a ton of space! Capitalize on this by stuffing things like phone chargers, batteries, socks, etc. inside of your boots to save space.
Tip 7: The ONE “just in case” item to always bring is ziploc bags. I’ve used them for everything from storing food to wet clothes and covering dirty boots. From storing toilet paper to keeping your phone dry, they’re incredibly useful to have around. (Pro tip: If hotels or huts don’t have carry out for that tasty Euro style breakfast…definitely keep ziplocs around because pastries should never go to waste.)
Tip 8: Have a name tag on your bag! This is extremely important as oftentimes packs and duffels fall under the same traditional colors of brown, green, moss, gray, etc. and can easily be mistaken. Whether it’s the airport tracking your luggage or a guide loading up everyone’s packs together, or worst-case scenario you have an accident, it will be much easier to identify if your name and contact info are located somewhere within the bag.
Tip 9: Always carry a shell. Weather will always always always be a trip’s biggest unknown. Carrying a waterproof shell is one way you can always be prepared for whatever the weather. This is also an item that is easily packable and should go in your carry on.
Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of travel, and I hope that these tips will make it easier on your next adventure.
Until next time, Happy Adventuring!