As I concluded a nice three day trip to Cape lookout in eastern North Carolina I had some time to reflect on the prep for the trip. Prep for a trip like this for me is pretty simple. My gear is almost always the same and that makes it easy for me to slide gear into bags and then into my boat. But what I realized was that isn't the case if you haven't done this a couple of hundred times. I fielded many text messages, emails and event he occasional phone call before the trip as people were curious what to pack, and how to pack it. I've gone over my gear list before so I thought it would be a good time to talk about 'how' I pack, some of it may surprise you.
The first surprise is that I use fewer drybags than you would think. I have a 35 liter taper bag that gets all my clothes. the system I used to use for clothes was two 20 liter drybags. One full, the other half full. They would both start out as bags of clean dry clothes, and then over time one would become 'clothes that were wet', and the other 'clothes that are dry'. On long trips I put a white garbage bags in my taper bag for 'wet clothes' to help segregate them from the dry clothes.
I have a ten liter drybag with all my personal goodies. A book, a headlamp, toiletries, batteries, iPod, things like that.
A five liter drybag that is my deck bag. Compass, powerfood, chemical light stick, sunglasses, sunscreen. Any little odd or end that I may need while paddling.
My sleeping bag is in a waterproof compression stuff sack to get it as small as possible. My first aid kit is in a dry bag. Five drybags, that is it. The following items are in their regular stuff sacks:
Tent (poles separate)
stove (inside my pot set)
Table - yes I pack a little table
If it is raining these items are going to get wet or be wet anyway. If they get wet in the boat and it isn't raining they will dry quickly in the sun. If you stuff the tent well, the waterproof floor will encapsulate the tent body and it stays dry on the inside. I am toying with putting the tarp and my tents fly in compression stuff sacks to make them smaller, but they will then also be hard (because they are compressed) which will make them harder to fill in spaces with)
The only thing that is left is food. For close to two decades I have been using a small gym duffel with a waterproof liner inside. I don't use the ziploc closure I just twist the top closed. I like the large opening for finding things inside it. Those liners are getting hard to find. I think I am going to switch to a dry duffel bag from NRS. I know many people that don't use drybags at all, just contractor grade trash bags inside stuff sacks. It works surprisingly well.
I should point out that the great Gordon Brown says to use lots of little bags instead of big bags. His reasoning is that you pack less air and more gear. He is right, but I am not organized enough to have many little bags. I prefer the big bag method, but by all means do what you think works best for you. All this gear fits in my two over sized mesh duffel bags. One for the bow, one for the stern. They are the last things into the boat, and the first thing out of the boat.
Here is all my gear waiting to get loaded into the car.