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Yaking about Packing

Dear Dragons of the Rio Grande,

Let’s get yacking about packing! Please note, this post is not the official packing list! That info can be found on page 27 of your course preparation manual. That will tell you pretty much everything you need to know but we’ve added a couple of things here that are also important that we’d like to bring some extra attention to.

  1. We know it’s not listed on the packing list, but please bring a lightweight backpacking chair. We will be camping a lot on our trip and a proper seat will make our days and nights at camp much more comfortable. There are many models that work well but we recommend one that collapses. Rei, Helinox, and Big Agnes all make popular versions. Check out Aaron’s post about discounted and second-hand gear for some ideas on where to find this stuff for cheaper.
  2. Pack light, pack light, pack light! We will be spending almost our entire program camping and living outside. Each time we move campsites, you will have to fit all of your stuff inside your backpack! We suggest that you practice packing your stuff and getting your system down before our trip. The more familiar you are with your gear and setup beforehand, the easier it will be to dive in when we meet in El Paso. It is totally reasonable to wear the same pants and shirts for multiple days! We recommend keeping your city clothes and fashion wear to a minimum- you won’t need it. We will primarily be dressing to camp, hang out at camp, hike, drive, and work on farms.
  3. Pay special attention to warmth and sun protection. Don’t skimp on warm layers and sun layers, Ensure you have at least the minimum recommended temperature ratings for your sleeping bags, pad, etc. because it will be COLD at night in the desert. Reach out if you have questions about this or any trouble securing this gear. On the other, prepare for some sun scorched days with hats, lightweight long sleeves, sunglasses, etc.

A couple of other Q & A’s…

Q: Will I have to carry all of my stuff on our treks?

A: No. We’ll be able to leave town clothes and other non-essentials behind when we’re backpacking. That being said, make sure that all of your gear fits neatly into your pack without undue strain. When we’re moving around, it’s very helpful for you and the whole group to only have one bag to pack and carry. When we trek, the space created by the belongings we leave behind will be used to pack food and group gear. Do a quick test and load up your pack with your trekking gear and make sure there’s some room to spare!

Q: How much should my trekking gear weigh?

A: That will depend a little bit on the gear choices you make and your own comfort level. A good rule of thumb that many backpackers use is that your total pack weight (with food and water) should not be more than ¼ to ⅓ of your body weight. Personally I recommend trying to make sure your base weight (weight without food and water) is no more than 20lbs. or so. If you’re having trouble, reach out and we’ll help you with a “shake down”!

Other questions or concerns? The gear list can be intimidating! Do your best, keep asking us any questions you have here on the Yak board, and keep breathing. Really, it’s only stuff. YOU and your willingness to be flexible and learn are way more important than anything you’ll find in a store.

Happy packing,

Your instructors