Gear Gathering Rituals

So, I'm heading off to Mt. Whitney next week with Brian Green and Ben2World and have been procrastinating/flip-flopping about which gear to bring.

There's a scale at the trailhead where everyone takes pictures of their pack weight so I could shoot for the lightest pack.

On the other hand, I've been to Whitney before and have a pretty good lay of the land.  It's not that difficult of a summit so I could bring some luxury items like a video camera, small tripod, etc. and bring back some good content.

Or, on the third hand (need to see a doctor about that), I also have some cool gear to field test that would add to my pack weight but would be fun to try out.

Hmm...questions, questions.

In the course of assembling some of the gear I think I want to take, I realized something:  I don't have a gear gathering ritual.  Some people make detailed gear lists, some people always start with the same basic stuff and go from there.  I have nothing.  I feel like I start from scratch every time and carry a completely different set of gear based on memory and whim.

So, I ask, do you have a gear gathering ritual before a trip?  What is it?
Gear Gathering Rituals Gear Gathering Rituals Reviewed by Jason Klass on August 15, 2011 Rating: 5


Ben said...

As I dont get out that often by gear gathering can last a while and goes like this:

1 Start with my standard detailed list
2 Start to place gear in pack of choice.
3 Check items off list
4 Change mind about pack and empty collect gear on to floor.
5 Collect more gear not on list and put in new rucksack
6 Throw away list
7 A day before trip forget what is at bottom of pack, throw everything onto floor.
8 Night before trip - pack for real.

Anonymous said...

I gather all the gear I own in a pile and take out what I need, checking it off on my master inventory spreadsheet as I go. When I'm done, I have the weight and cost of everything I'm carrying for posterity and possibly insurance claiming purposes. Noting the cost also makes me a lot more careful with my pack than I used to be.

Stephen Bunker said...

This is what I do for an extended trip. About a week before my outing, I'll designate a collection point -- the corner of a room or an empty cardboard box -- to assemble the the gear for the outing. I'll work from a mental packing list.

Rather than decide all at once the day before the event, this week-long collection time allows myself time to ponder and pace all the little gear decisions.

About 2 days before the outing I start making the final gear decisions. At this point I'll test/tinker load my pack which invariably requires some further refinement to my equipment choices.

I may pull out a printed equipment list to further check to see if I've forgotten something.

On the other hand, for the quick weekend outing, I use a different method. I try to maintain what I call a ready to go overnight pack; something that is essentially ready (other than tuffing my sleeping bag).

To maintain this ready to go pack, I have to allow myself 2-3 days following an outing to clean, dry, repair and repack.

Aaron Propst said...

I keep an excel spreadsheet with weights of pretty much everything I use. I tweak this thing endlessly, putting stuff in my "pack" (adding or removing items from my total) while I sit at work dreaming of my next trip. I also use that gear list when considering new gear purchases or optimizations.

Then when I'm home I just work through that list. I also keep almost all my active, non retired gear in a single tub in the garage, so I mostly work from that.

I do that a day or so early, then continually throw in extra little stuff I've forgotten for the next 24 hours.. (which blows those wonderfully quantified numbers ; )

Brian said...

I am so looking forward to our trip! With regards to a ritual, I start with the big three which are typically the usual suspects, then choose gear in the following order based on the trip: Clothing, bad weather gear, cooking & fire starting, and other items. Food is nearly always the last thing I work on mostly because it's the least sexy section of gear in my mind YMMV.

peter said...

Because I don't usually get out more than once or twice each season, for me, gear list and pack planning is a big part of the fun. I usually start assembling my gear list several weeks in advance to plan out what I'll take. Using my custom spreadsheet complete with weight and descriptions, I can see what my pack weight will be and also remind myself of what other gear options I have available.

Anonymous said...

Lists, lists lists. Normally written from memory and then ticked off as I go - Ive found if I dont do this, I forget stuff like cameras, hats or sunglasses.
I then collect everything into the spare room, with two or three different size packs, and work out what I 'need' to take and what I can leave behind. I try for the smallest pack I can as that forces me to go lighter.

Carl Lenocker said...

Hey Jason -- be sure to get us some good video from Mt Whitney! Have been wanting to do that one myself next year!

flatblackcapo said...

yeah I pack about 45 lb of crap in my 6 lb pack ,strap another 8 lb of crap to the outside of said pack and hit the trail for a good long overnight trip. I can see you cringing . haha

Anonymous said...

Nice liitle app for trip planning can be found at Several versions available including one for camping/hiking.

Lance said...

I'm trying to start my inventory spreadsheet from scratch, and am not sure where to start. Would someone be willing to email me a sample of theirs? Email is! I would really appreciate it!

Jason Cravens said...

I usually have purchased or made something between each trip, so my priority is always trying or using something new. Field testing is a big part of my gear gathering.

BearPaw said...

I start from scratch also. It is funner that way. It makes me really think about where I am going and what I will need. You do not always need a water filter or a spork ect... You learn the area better if you have been there before by constantly replaying the fun time you had before in your head. You realize what you didn't use and therefor do not need. Making your pack lighter each time you go.

Jerry Schleining said...

My kit is pretty standard all the time,with a couple exceptions based on weather and trail.
So I dump everything out on the floor. Spread out all the stuff sacks and ditty bags and makes sure everything is there and in good condition. Pick the sleeping bag I am going to take, then put it in the pack.
Then I adjust clothing based on conditions, load it. Then repack the rest. Add food on the day of the trip and done.
I think the ritual part comes from the dumping of the gear and then sitting and tinkering with stuff until I pack it all back up. Sometimes just sitting in the pile of gear is the best part of the ritual.

Anonymous said...

For me, the gear planning is part of the fun!

I start with my basic list, categorised with weights.

I then go through each category and pick what I need. At the same time I drive my wife insane by playing with every bit of kit I own ;)

I'll pack close to the trip, decide it's too heavy, then go back to the List!

The night before, the weather report will completely change, then I'll go through it all again!

Boblbee hardshell backpack said...

Really I load up about 40 lb of junk in my 4 lb load up, band another 7 lb of junk to the outside of said load up and hit the pathway for a excellent lengthy instantaneously vacation. I can see you cringing. Normally published from storage and then ticked off as I go - Ive discovered if I do not do this, I ignore things like camcorders, less difficult or eyewear. I then gather everything into the extra area, with two or three different dimension packages, and perform out what I 'need' to take and what I can depart behind. I try for the tiniest load up I can as that makes me to go light.

Anonymous said...

LOL, I totally relate to number 4. I actually keep all my hiking equipment in my gardening shed. I don't do as much gardening anymore, haha. I find that keeping all my stuff on shelves is easier and hanging my backpacks up on nails.

Also as I sometimes write in my backpacking blog, I like to break out my kitchen scale so that I know exactly how much stuff I'm taking. It's easy to say how much you'll bring when you haven't even put the pack on yet.

The Camping Trail said...

You need to make a checklist of what you need. You cannot be too lax with your gear gathering. One must know the dangers of going outdoors unprepared. It just is not done to go without making sure all the necessities are there. Civilization’s conveniences will be too far off by then and its too late if you forget anything.

Morgan said...

This was a funny post, I always wondered if I was the only crazy one that obsessed over packing and lists and weights as much as I do! Like many of the commenters above I rely heavily on making a list (although a excel spreadsheet is appealing to me now). I have my basics, that I always bring, then depending on the trip I can choose from specific items (i.e. the espresso maker is always a loved luxury).

Anonymous said...

Espresso maker?! How do you have the luxury of that? I'm so jealous! Lol. Through my many Scottish episodes,I haven't had the luxury of such items, but I wish I had mate ;-) I've recently gotten into bikepacking and it's surprising what people carry!

Alex said...

Haha, I think I am running a much lighter backpack!

Recent Comments

Random Posts