One of the secrets of successful backpacking is learning how to become extremely organized and to stay organized throughout your trip. That might sound obvious but it’s actually a skill that requires a lot of practice and the development of a set of rituals that you can “do in your sleep”, regardless of the weather or your level of fatigue.
Take your food bag for example. How easy is it for you to get out a snack? Do you find yourself stopping and unpacking your entire food bag each time you want to make a meal?
While this may sound like an insignificant inconvenience, random food bag organization can lead to skipped snacks or delayed meals that can have a significant performance impact on your ability to put in long days or high miles. It took me a long time to understand the relationship between good food bag organization and my daily caloric intake patterns, so here’s some advice on food bag organization that you may find useful.
- When I pack my bear bag at home, I first divide all of my meals into 5 piles: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks.
- I put each pile into it’s own plastic bag. I find that the best ones to use for this purpose are the plastic bags that I get from the dry cleaners that wrap my folded dress shirts.
- I place my backpacking towel, bear bag line, and mesh sack at the bottom of my food bag.
- Then I insert my O.P. Sack into my bear bag and place my long handled titanium spoon and toob tooth brush along the inside, propped up vertically for easy access.
- Next, I put the 5 bags of food into my O.P. sack, one by one, so that the meal or snack that I want next, is positioned at the top of my food bag. After, I’ve eaten something, I reorder the bags as required, so that food breaks can be kept short if I want to get going again.
- I always carry my food bag on top of the other gear in my backpack so that it’s easy to access during the day.
What nice about this system is that I’m always aware of exactly how much food I have left during a trip, because all of the same types of meals are organized together. It also makes choosing which one I want to eat a lot easier because they’re all grouped together. Before I organized my bear bag this way, I found that I had to always fully unpack and repack my bear bag each time I wanted a snack or to make a meal, and I never knew exactly how much food I had left because it was all dumped together.