Packing Method 101

July 20th, 2010 | Posted by john in At the Walk

I originally planned on writing this post about what I packed for the 3-Day. I thought about it and thought about it and didn’t really think it was that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people that need some help thinking of what to pack for the 3-Day for the Cure, but I think that there are quite a few sites that have all sorts of lists of what you should bring and it doesn’t really make for much reading. I promised a list last week and I will not go back on what I promised, but I’m going to start off a little differently. I want to start off with how I pack my bag because I think it’s equally important to know how to get all of that stuff into your bag as it is to know what to put in there.

Are You Going to Put a Body in There?

Last year, Ryan Sparks, one of my teammates had this MAMMOTH bag that everyone called the body bag. It was huge and that’s saying something, because I always thought my bag was big. Making sure that you have the right bag for your packing is one of the most important pieces of being able to pack. I prefer a bag with a large main compartment and decent sized front and back compartments. Also, wheels are an absolute must. There is nothing so fantastically bad as finishing a 20 mile walk and then having to lug your bag half a mile to your tent. I may exaggerate when I say half a mile, but after 20, it seems like that.

When I bought my bag a couple of years ago, I had a hard time finding one that I thought was adequate for all of my criteria. I was probably looking in all the wrong stores, but where I ended up was at the luggage section of Academy Sports and Outdoors. I never new there was a luggage section there and it took some looking, but they had several large duffel bags to choose from when I found it. I’m sure that there are plenty of places that I just missed, but if you find that you are having trouble, then take a look there.

It’s Kind of Like a Nesting Doll

Now that you have your bag, it’s going to feel kind of like you are putting together a strange nesting doll with all of the other types of bags you will be dealing with. Keep in mind that moving forward, just about everything you put in your bag should be in another bag. A plastic bag. Here’s a rundown of the different types of bags that I use:

  • Garbage Bags: great for storing your large items like sleeping bags and air mattresses. If there is not room in your tent to put your duffel bag when you get to camp, you can also use two of these bags to put your duffel in outside of your tent so that it doesn’t get wet over night.
  • Gallon Ziploc Bags: Ziploc has in no way compensated me for talking about them in this post, but if they would like to make a donation, I think it would be great. I use the gallon Ziploc bags to store medium sized items like clothes and toiletries. I recommend the bags with the actual zipper mechanism in them, I’ll explain why later.
  • Sandwich Bags:
  • I use sandwich bags for storing all of the sandwiches that I take on the walk. Not really. I use them for smaller items like electronics: flashlights, battery packs, etc.

Make sure that you have plenty of bags and I always pack an extra few just in case I forgot a bag for something.

You Can’t Go Naked

You will need to pack clothes. That goes without saying. When I pack, I choose to put each walking day of clothes in a separate bag. So, for Saturday I will have a gallon bag with underwear, walking shorts, bra (because I’m wearing one as part of a fund raiser) and if I were wearing a shirt it would also be in there. It may seem like a lot of stuff to put in a gallon bag, but I assure you that it can be done. I did it last night. The key is in the rolling. I roll up everything I can so it takes up the absolute least amount of space. Underwear, great. Shorts, great. If you’re taking a bra with underwire, not so much. Once you have everything in the bag, zip it most of the way up and then squeeze it. As long as it is zipped up most of the way this will squeeze out and keep out most of the air, making the bag take up less space in your duffel, which is a very good thing. When you get to camp, you can pull out the bag for the day and keep it in the tent with you overnight so that in the morning you are ready to go without having to search for anything.

You probably noticed that I didn’t include socks on the list of things for walking day clothes. That wasn’t a mistake, thought I make plenty of them. I put my socks in one bag. This is personal preference. Since socks are a very important part of walking in the 3-Day for the Cure, I put them in one bag so that I can select and not forget them.

Let’s Get Packing

Hopefully by now, you have everything in their own respective bags, bet it garbage, gallon or sandwich. I recommend waiting until all this is done before you really start packing. It’s never fun to pack everything and then realize that you need to put something in a bag that is at the bottom of your duffel. When I started this, I mentioned that I had a duffel with a large compartment and two decent sized pockets. When I pack, I try to keep related items together. So, in the main compartment I will put my air mattress, the battery operated pump for that (both in the same garbage bag), my sleeping bag (or sheets/blanket), and pillow. In one of the pockets, I will try to put all my walking clothes. In another pocket, I will put miscellaneous items, like extra panchos, tarps, flashlight, toiletries, etc. Then I finish off the main compartment with my extra shoes (sometimes these will fit in the miscellaneous pocked), camp clothes, after shoes, and this year a plush Energizer┬« Bunny.

The List

As promised, now that I have shared some of my thoughts on packing, here is the list of things that I will bring in my duffel bag on the 3-Day for the Cure. Keep in mind, this is what is in my bag and may not be suitable for you but will hopefully give you a good starting point.

  • Air mattress – I prefer this to camp pads or thermarest and you can get one with a battery pump for $15 at Wal-mart.
  • Sheet and Blanket – This is the first year I am not packing a sleeping bag. The weather in Boston promises to be much hotter than when I have walked in Dallas, so I’ll take a sheet and blanket here and a sleeping bag to Dallas.
  • Camp Pillow – found one from Coleman that folds up pretty nice
  • Flashlight – I use a normal one, but most people recommend a headlight so you don’t have to worry about dropping it in the potty.
  • Energi to Go Charger – I’ll use this to charge my iPhone overnight.
  • Two Tarps – one for on top of the tent and one for under.
  • Emergency Blanket – and let’s hope you don’t have to use it
  • Extra panchos – I use the cheap wal-mart kind that doesn’t take up much space, but they are pretty much single use
  • After Shoes
  • Second pair of walking shoes
  • Toiletries – toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, body gel (I hate carrying soap in those little containers), deodorant, etc.
  • Socks – at least six pair of walking socks, but if it plans to rain, maybe more
  • Walking Clothes – I’m including shorts, underwear and bras in this.
  • Camp clothes – Probably a short sleeved shirt, some jogging pants. Really something comfortable and weather appropriate for you to wear around camp.
  • Batteries – extra batteries doesn’t hurt if you’re bringing an air pump for your bed.
  • Clothespins – to hold the tarp to your tent
  • Energizer Bunny – if you haven’t looked that the gallery on the site you should and then you’ll understand what this is

I think that’s it, but I really don’t have my bag sitting in front of me right now. If I get home later and notice that I’ve missed something I will definitely add to the list. What about you, what packing methods or items do you use that you think people should know about. Comment below!


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