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Packing Notes!

Hello again Dragons!

It was wonderful to see you all in the webinar a few days ago. Thank you for joining us and for all of your great questions. We look forward to taking this first virtual meeting live and in person in just a few weeks!

Whether you have your bag packed and sitting by your front door already or if you’re still thinking packing is a task for the distant future, we wanted to follow up on our conversation to reemphasize the most important points. As a reminder, the packing list on page 27 of your Course Preparation Manual is your best and most detailed guide. The following considerations are also important to keep in mind!

PREPARE TO BE OUTSIDE! We’ll be outside for almost the entire course in a variety of different climates. Weather in the southwest is known to be unpredictable. Make sure you have the appropriate layers for temperatures ranging from cold, wet nights to hot, dry days.

PREPARE TO BE DIRTY! As important as it is to make sure you have the correct clothing and gear for activities across the seasons, it’s also important to get yourself into the mental mindset that we will be quite dirty and a bit smelly most of the time. We’ll have infrequent access to showers and machine laundry, so prepare to be re-wearing clothes quite often. This is all part of the fun! It’s also just part of everyday life for those of us who spend a lot of the time on the road and in the backcountry. I think it will start to feel quite normal to you soon, too. But we know it’s something that can be out of many students’ comfort zones in the beginning. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

KEEP THINGS LIGHT AND SIMPLE! Minimalism is key here. Stick to the packing list and avoid any extras. This is also part of the fun! It is wonderfully liberating to be able to carry everything you need for a long stretch of time on your back!

Some more specific reminders:

  1. One bag limit: Please make sure that everything you bring fits comfortably in your trekking pack, which should be 55-70L. Any pack in this range is appropriate as long as it fits your gear comfortably. If you’re having trouble getting everything into a 70L pack, you’re probably bringing too much. When you’re all packed up, take a walk around your neighborhood for a mile or two to see how it feels. As a general rule of thumb, your personal trekking gear (sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad (if inflatable), bowl, and warm/rain layers) should fit in the body of your pack with at least 1/3 of the space left for food and group gear. This 1/3 should fit the rest of your front country clothes and supplies when we are not trekking.
  2. Sleeping pads: We recommend a foam sleeping pad instead of an inflatable one. The inflatable pads are more comfortable but they often pop. On the fall course, 10/12 popped at least once and they can be difficult and a bit annoying to fix! Foam pads are also usually less expensive. If you do bring a foam pad, you can pack it by strapping it under the “brain” of your pack, the part that clips on top. If you decide to go with an inflatable, bring a patch kit and watch some tutorial videos to make sure you are familiar with how to find and repair holes.
  3. Sleeping bags: We strongly recommend a 0˚F-degree sleeping bag and no less than a 20˚F-degree. A 20˚F-degree bag might be a little uncomfortable at times and anything less will be potentially dangerous. We also suggest bringing a sleeping bag liner which can add 10-15 extra degrees of warmth.
  4. Camp chair: There is one exception to our one bag rule and that is a camp chair! We will be doing a lot of lessons outdoors and recommend you bring a crazy creek chair. These will not fit in your pack and that’s alright! Everything else should!
  5. Masks: Please don’t forget to pack 2-3 masks to bring with you on course. We will wear them together until we have gotten our negative Covid-19 tests and officially formed our pod. After that, we will where them whenever we are in a public space (outdoors doesn’t count) or engaging with anyone outside our group. We recommend wearing an N95 or double-masking on your flight. Please bring masks rather than using a buff or bandana. Please also make sure these masks cover your nose without slipping.

PREPARE YOUR GEAR! After you have all of your gear ready and assembled, make sure to familiarize yourself with your set-up! If you try something out and it doesn’t feel quite right, you’ll likely be able to exchange it for something more suitable. Most gear shops have generous return policies for this reason.

  • Boots: This means going for a walk in your boots to break them in and make sure they feel comfortable and correctly-sized. Shoes that are a little bit too tight in the front country can be annoying. In the back country, this can lead to lots of pain and blisters that can negatively impact your experience of the hikes.
  • Tent: Practice setting up your tent! Try sleeping in it outside or in your house for a few nights. Do you feel comfortable setting it up and taking it down? Is everything feeling comfortable?
  • Watch: Make sure you know how to use your watch and set your alarm. Some watch alarms are also not very loud. Make sure it actually wakes you up! Since you won’t have your phone with you, this piece of gear will be important. Try using it a few mornings at home first.

And remember, these are all things we’ll be talking about and practicing even more during orientation and on our first hike. You certainly don’t need to be an expert when you arrive! But taking the time to experiment is a good way to make sure you arrive with gear you’re happy with. From there we can learn how to best utilize it!

Stay tuned for a video in a couple days for more information about this! Maddie is going to show everyone what she’ll be bringing and how she likes to pack her bag.

If you have further questions, please feel free to send Maddie an email at [email protected]!

With anticipation,

Your Instructor Team