Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Seems like not that long ago...

That I was packing my kayak to make sure all the gear would fit for Alaska. This was a test pack I did before switching to a tapered dry bag. There are a few other pieces of gear that got changed out before that trip as well.

packfast from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.

Frequently on big trips people will stop and watch me load my boat, and more often than not people will say something along the lines of "I didn't think it was all going to go in there!" I remember as a student on my first NOLS course being really nervous packing the boat. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to get all the gear that was my responsibility into the boat. I still sometimes get nervous - usually on the first few days when the load is at its biggest, but I also find it really exciting to see how much I can get into the boat. One of the reasons I picked my delta was because of how much gear it could carry, and still be a lot of fun to paddle even when empty. The only boat I have seen carry more is the Prijon Kodiak which is an absolute monster in terms of storage.

I do break a couple of rules. A lot of people will say use a lot of little dry bags. I tend to use bigger bags because they are easier for me in terms of organization. (The argument is that if you use smaller bags you end up packing less air). I also don't put a couple of things in dry bags that most people do, My tent and sleeping pad I don't put in dry bags. My tent is usually wet anyway - because I tend to paddle in cold wet places - and my sleeping bag has never come out of the hatch wet.

There is also the debate of 'compress it really small, so it takes up less space' vs. don't use a compression sack so it is a little bigger, but is softer so it can be molded into the available space. I favor the latter. I only use a compression stuff sack on my sleeping bag.

Historically I have liked sealline dry bags, particularly the kodiak window with the air purge valve. It is a great dry bag, and a little slippery so it is easy to get it into and out of the boat. But recently I have been using more and more Sea to summit dry bags. It started with the compression sack for my sleeping bag. Then the taper bag. Then I started using a small sea to summit bag as my deck bag - a suggestion from a reader, and I will never go back. People really need to design better deck bags! - And then finally the bags I bought for the three 13 pound ration bags were sea to summit.

A big part of my kit is trying out different things and seeing what works. I always watch the way other paddlers pack their gear or organize their gear looking for new ways to do things. Everyone has something to teach.