Let’s Pack – Packing Tips

12 sleeps to Scotland …

Our Scotland adventure to walk the Arran Coastal Way and climb Goat Fell Mountain is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the actual packing – putting stuff in stuff. We have our Let’s Pack – Toiletries and Let’s Pack – Clothing lists and now we can go from lists and piles to actually packing it into a pack!

I have learned a few tricks over the years about the actual packing part and thought I would share them with you for your next adventure.

Roll It

Yup roll everything.

There are some folks who try and say folding everything nicely and all flat like is the best way. Nope! Actual science has confirmed rolling is the way to go – and my science I mean myth busters. Each little clothing roll takes up less space than a flat fold and you can tuck and squish and jam the rolls into little nooks and crannies in your pack (or luggage).

Don’t believe me? Try it! Pack flat and then unpack and do it all again rolled – yup told yah! Oh and if you are worried about wrinkles from the rolling, I get that but don’t think you need to worry too much. In my experience the wrinkle count is about the same with a roll or a flat fold and there is no getting away from the things. That’s all part of travelling I guess – being wrinkly and not giving one hoot cause you are on vacation!

Tip: half fold and then tight roll. What? For a shirt, for example, fold it in half with the arms laid flat over it – then roll it from the collar to the bottom. This will keep the arms all nicely tucked and the roll tight. For pants you flatten/fold the legs one over the other and then roll from leg bottom to waist band.

Stuff it

Quite literally stuff all the stuff! Have you heard of compression sacks, or light weight dry sacks or stuff sacks? These are magic bags! You jam them full of all your stuff (in rolls of course, see tip above) and then you roll or tighten the closure to suck out all the extra air and compress your stuff.

Here is a photo of the clothes I am bringing to Scotland:

Now here are all of those clothes, less my fleece, that have been rolled and compressed into my 8L lightweight stuff sack:

My fleece doesn’t go into the stuff sack because it will be coming on the plane with me as a pillow or shawl or blanket or maybe just a fleece as it was design to be. However I put it in this photo so you can use it to see just how small that stuff sack is – and it has all my clothes in it that were in the previous picture. I probably could have compressed it even more too!

You don’t need a heavy weight stuff or compression or dry sack for packing – something lightweight does the trick! So do not go out and buy those heavy duty water proof boat bags or anything – that will just add weight. We are focused on lightweight for backpack packing. Not only will these sacks help reduce the amount of room your clothes take but it also creates compartments of sorts in your pack or luggage to keep you organized.

Caution: using stuff sacks does not give you permission to pack more than you need! Just because there is a bit more space does not mean you need to fill it with that ‘just in case’ extra dress or that shirt ‘I hoped I would actually like on vacation’. Leave the untested and maybe items at home. Enjoy the space, not the extra stuff!

Ziplock It

As you have read in my past few blog posts – I love me some Ziplock magic!

I encourage you to put all your potentially messy and goopy stuff like shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen in Ziplocks when you pack it – both for the plane and on the the trip. I have been the gal who has a shampoo explode in her suitcase and can still get grumpy thinking about the mess lol

Ziplocks are also good for compression and compartmentalizing your stuff. The Sea to Summit or similar stuff / dry sack pictured above can be a bit tough on the budget – you will only ever have to buy em once and use them for every trip you will ever take in your life but they are not cheap. So if money is a consideration as I imagine it is for all of us – there is a back up Ziplock solution.

Grab some big Ziplocks to pack you clothes in. Maybe a Ziplock XL Freezer size for your shorts and pants, a XL for your shirts and Buffs, another L for undies and swimming costume. (I love that word)

Once you clothes are all nicely rolled and tucked into the Ziplock, you will want to push out as much air as possible and close the zip almost all the way. Leave about a 1inch section of the zip not closed. At this gap you are going to literally suck the air out of the bag and then close when it’s all gone. No joke. This really works!

Group It

Did you notice a theme among all these tips? I am big on grouping like items with like items and suggest this for anyone packing a bag, a pack, a suitcase.

Grouping your travel stuff basically mimics the organization you have at home. This will make finding things and re-packing things while abroad so much easier for you. Don’t be the person who has to un-roll and un-stuff everything to find that one thing – pack in such a way that you know where all the things are! This will save you time, reduce stress, keep your travel companions happy, and get you to the tourist stuff faster – the reason you packed all this in the first place!

There are a few different trains of thought for how to group items for your different stuff sacks, compartments or Ziplocks. Some people stuff by outfit – so they will have a roll for each day (bottoms, top and undies all rolled together) and out all those daily rolls in one stuff sack. I don’t bring enough tops and bottoms for each day so this never works for me but I do like the idea in theory. Some people may put all the tops on one sack and all the bottoms in another. This doesn’t work for me either because then I have to open both sacks each time instead of just one for the whole ensemble.

Finding the way that works for you may take a few trips or re-packs but once you do  – wow, the heavens will sing for ya!  Here is how I will be organizing for this hiking trip:

  • Big Stuff Sack: all my hiking clothes (not undies, socks, or outdoor layers like jackets)
  • Med Stuff Sack: all of my extra bits like pajama, city tourist clothes, train/plane clothes
  • Med / Small Stuff Sack: undies, sports bras, socks and liners, Buffs, toque
  • Med /Small Stuff Sack: all the dirty clothes

When I am on a non-hiking holiday, like a trip to a hot destination, I will have a large stuff sack for evening destination wear, a sack for daytime beach wear (bathing costume and cover-ups), a sack for my running gear, and one for all my undies, pajama, etc. So a bit different than my backpacking or hiking pack grouping but same idea.

Organize It

Roll it, stuff it, group it  – got it! You got the basics if you have all that well in hand, but  I figured I would dazzle you (ha ha I am probably the only one who is dazzled by packing ideas) with some additional packing / organizational tips to consider…

  • Shower Caps: use these to cover the bottom of the shoes you pack. You can use a shoe bag or Ziplock of course but when those aren’t available a shower cap works to cover the dirty sole of any shoe – the little elastic around the edge keeps it nicely secured. I steal every hotel shower cap I can get my hands on! Flip flops can go in one cap sole to sole and boots one cap per sole.
  • Make-up bags or pencil cases: back to grouping again here! Never leave an item loose! If you have some pens, highlighter, and a journal – put them all in a zippered case! Make it big enough for your wallet and passport too. If you have some toiletries you need on the plane (lip chap, hand cream, floss, etc) – put them all in a wee make-up bag or better yet the 1L clear plastic security bag at the airport. Little, light zippered cases will save you digging around trying to find stuff – from believing you have lost the 4th lip chap of the trip – and can add some personality to your pack. I have a pencil case for my toiletries that has a world map on it, I feel like such a globe trotter when I pull it out.
  • Extra Ziplocks and some elastics: toss a few of each in a case or extra Ziplock and bring them along. These are great for storing left over snacks, leaky tubes of face cream or whatever might bring en route, or soggy socks. Elastics are great for closing chip or crisp bags, keeping your journal closed when it’s full of train tickets and receipts or other ephemera, etc.
  • Carabiners: grab a few of these and attach them to your pack or your cases inside of your pack for the trip. A small one and a couple mediums should do the trick. These are great for clipping items into place in your pack or on your pack (like when you need to dry your socks you hand-washed that morning). I also use them to close the zippers on my city-tourist day pack so the sneaky pick pockets have to work a little harder. I use them to hand my towel or toiletries in the shower so my stuff does not sit on the floor wet. So many amazing uses for these things. Oh and you do not need to buy the rock climbing grade Carabiner – they should only cost you a couple bucks each for the ones you need.

Well that is my approach to packing the things in the things – now I am off to get some training in! With just 12 sleeps left I want to get as many miles as I can in every day – today I am touring downtown Victoria with 30lbs in my pack (aka my entire John Grisham novel collection) and my sneakers.

Next week we will talk about packing documents for your trip. Yup, even this subject is worth a whole blog post my Running for the Gate friends!

Brande 

2 thoughts on “Let’s Pack – Packing Tips

  1. Pingback: 10 Sleeps and 10 Things | runningforthegate

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