Use A Gear List For Your Trips

by Andy Amick on March 21, 2012

in Bikepacking, Gear

In the last few days, I came across a couple of articles on gear lists for backpacking trips.

Brian Green – Gear Lists – Not Just For Gram Weenies!

Andrew Skurka – Gear Lists – Past Trips

Both of these articles have great information on how and why to use a gear list.  Here are 3 of my thoughts on the same topic.


1. Learn

Get ideas from other people's gear listsYou don’t have to be a spreadsheet or a data geek to use a gear list.  Yes, it does help, but the best way you can learn from these experienced hikers is to read through their lists and try to pick up a few good ideas.  The lists from Brian and Andrew are broken out by categories which makes it very easy to read through a few of the categories where you want to learn more.

You could pick up a few tips on their clothing and shelter choices.  Or maybe you learn about a product that you had never heard about.


2. Be Prepared

Use a gear list to help you prepare for bikepackingEven if you are not trying to eliminate weight and go ultralight, gear lists are still useful.  As Brian mentions in his post, it’s a great tool to make sure you don’t leave anything at home.  Think of it as your packing list instead of gear list if you want.


If you are trying to reduce your gear weight, the lists are handy at trying out different gear combinations to get a total packing weight.  Organizing the list by category is another good tip so you can view your clothing or all of your shelter gear together.



3. Evaluate and Modify

Evaluate your gear list after each tripNot only is the gear list ideal to prepare for your trip, it’s very useful to evaluate your gear during and after your trip.  Put the list in a zippered bag and bring it with you so that you can take notes during the trip.  Make notes on how the gear worked, how you packed it, and if you ended up not using something.   You can also take notes on what changes you want to make for the next trip.


When you return home from each trip, review the notes from the trip and add any notes that come to mind as you are unpacking.  If you’re a spreadsheet junkie, type the comments into your spreadsheet to keep all information in the files.


Also, keep a separate list for each trip so that you can review your previous lists and find ways to further optimize your gear selection.     Try a different combination for each trip until you get closer to that perfect set of gear that balances comfort vs. weight.


Just remember, a gear list is never set in stone because you’ll find new gear to try out or new ideas on how to pack your gear differently.  If you’re like me, you’ll also have many new ideas on how to improve your gear or make your own gear that will function better for your trips.

About Andy Amick
A little bit nutty in general, a lotta bit nutty about bikes. Each of his boys received a bike helmet for their first birthday and the three of them have been biking together ever since.

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