Dodging floods on a Derwent Water circular walk
Derwent Water is one of the most picturesque areas of the Lake District, but at the time I went I had to carefully plan a route to avoid recent flood damage.
Dreaming of taking on that next expedition? GetOutside Champion James Forrest gives us his top 10 genius tips and tricks to help you travel like a pro.
There seem to two types of ‘packers’ in this world: the last-minuters, who leave everything till the eleventh hour and end up frantically throwing all their gear into a bag in a three-minute, panicked blur of chaotic disorganisation; and the packing geeks, who diligently start getting organised a week in advance, making spreadsheets, obsessively laying out neat piles of kit, and refining and re-refining their set-up OCD-style until perfection is achieved. Which one are you?
No matter which camp you’re in, packing for an expedition is an important stage of your journey: it’s when the excitement and anticipation of your trip should kick in. Whenever I grab my Osprey Rolling Transporter 90 and Archeon 25 day pack (as pictured), I start to get excited about the adventure ahead. But, sadly, the stress of deciding what to take (and what not to take) often puts a dampener on many people’s pre-getaway buzz.
Fear not, however. Whether you’re off backpacking around the world, away for a weekend in Snowdonia, or spending a week touring Scotland, we’ve set out a list of 10 genius tips and tricks to help you travel like a pro. These expedition packing hacks cover everything from organisation, security, waterproofing, freshness and much more. Follow them and the only thing left to do is let the adventure commence!
This is the most difficult thing to get right. You don’t want to forget something you’ll end up really needing, but equally you don’t want to be weighed down by a bulging duffel bag full of stuff you end up never using.
In truth, you are probably more likely to over-pack (most people do) – to avoid this simply lay out everything you think you need, and then halve it (it sounds drastic but it works!).
A classic mistake is thinking ‘I’ll take this just in case’. It leads to over-packing. Remember that it’s highly unlikely they’ll be a heatwave in Scotland in February, or a cold snap in Morocco in summer. Ditch anything that’s a ‘just in case’ item and reduce any multiple items (pack three pairs of pants, not six). And if you’re absolutely desperate, you can always buy something during your travels.
One of the best ways to ensure you don’t forget anything is to make a packing list. Brainstorm everything you need first and then, when the time comes for packing, tick things off as they go into your bag. Keep a separate last-minute list (put it by your door) to ensure you remember those last minute essentials – keys, wallet, phone, etc – before you leave.
It’s sod’s law that whenever you need something from your bag, it immediately migrates to a hidden, unreachable crevice of your duffel or the darkest, deepest depths of your backpack. Avoid this infuriating phenomenon by using packing cubes – lightweight sacks for storing and separating your gear, enabling you to find things easier. They also fit neatly, Tetris-style, into your bag.
For pro-level packing cube organisation, use colour-coded cubes for easier identification; pack the kit you need first at the top of your bag; keep heavier packing cubes at the wheeled end of your duffel bag/suitcase to improve stability and prevent crushing other items; and fill any dead space in your bag with smaller items (e.g. socks) to avoid items moving around in transit.
Using every last bit of space is a crucial packing skill. Save space, for example, by rolling up socks and placing them inside your shoes. Another space-saving tactic is to use vacuum compression packs, from which air can be squeezed out, thus enabling you to pack more efficiently in a compact space.
It’s pretty annoying when you’ve packed crisply ironed clothes, only to arrive at your destination to discover a million creases. But you can dodge this bullet by rolling rather folding when you’re packing. It’s a tried-and-tested crease-avoidance tactic. Another strategy is to mostly pack travel-friendly clothes made from crease-free fabrics, rather than woven fabrics like cotton which are prone to wrinkling.
One risk of putting everything in the same duffel bag is that unsavoury odours from some items (e.g. your trainers) can be transferred to your clean clothes. Help to keep your bag and clothes smelling fresh – just like a ‘summer breeze’ or ‘lavender fields’ – by placing tumble dryer sheets in your bag. Alternatively use potpourri sachets or scented drawer liners
Set aside a plastic bag, laundry bag or tote bag for your dirty laundry. Place a couple of tumble dryer sheets inside it and seal it, thus separating your clean and unclean gear, and avoiding any bad smells contaminating the rest of your stuff. If your duffel bag or backpack has a side compartment, use that for a further barrier between the clean and the dirty.
This list of packing tips could be seemingly endless. Everyone has their own little hacks and strategies to get the most out of their travels. So here is a quick hit-list of other top tricks:
James Forrest – aka ‘Mountain Man’ – is the record-breaking adventurer who climbed every mountain in England and Wales in just six months, the fastest ever time. Solo and unsupported, he walked over 1,000 miles and ascended five times the height of Everest during his 446-peak challenge. And he did it all on his days off from work, proving it is possible to integrate an epic adventure into your everyday life.
His debut book ‘Mountain Man: 446 Mountains. Six months. One record-breaking adventure” was released 2 May 2019.