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Camping Technique

Old 04-05-19, 11:34 AM
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Camping Technique

I'm interested in hearing about technique in general from experienced bikepackers.

My specific interest is efficient setup in the evening and teardown in the morning. One challenge has been too much time spent packing up in the morning with a myriad of stuff sacks, dirty tent stakes, filtering water for the day and where did that darn bag with toothbrush go?

Obvious things like not putting items needed first all the way at the bottom of a saddle bag are learned early. I've also learned to pack the tent, rain fly and footprint into the stuff sack oriented so that the end to be staked out first is deployed first.

What else? Cooking efficiently? Filtration - as soon as you arrive or later? Drying out clothes? Packing saddle and bar bags when there is no place to lean the bike - remove the bags from the bike?

Anything at all to make things more time efficient would be helpful and I'd be open to suggestions about technique in general from experienced bikepackers.


-Tim-
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Old 04-05-19, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
I'm interested in hearing about technique in general from experienced bikepackers.

My specific interest is efficient setup in the evening and teardown in the morning. One challenge has been too much time spent packing up in the morning with a myriad of stuff sacks, dirty tent stakes, filtering water for the day and where did that darn bag with toothbrush go?

Obvious things like not putting items needed first all the way at the bottom of a saddle bag are learned early. I've also learned to pack the tent, rain fly and footprint into the stuff sack oriented so that the end to be staked out first is deployed first.

What else? Cooking efficiently? Filtration - as soon as you arrive or later? Drying out clothes? Packing saddle and bar bags when there is no place to lean the bike - remove the bags from the bike?

Anything at all to make things more time efficient would be helpful and I'd be open to suggestions about technique in general from experienced bikepackers.


-Tim-
I've been in the outdoors my whole life and have picked up a couple of habits along the way.

One is that I put things away after I use them and clean up as I go. Other people look like their panniers exploded all over the camp. In the morning it's just a matter of dressing, packing up my bag, mat and tent and going. This isn't just camping though. I also dive and have the same systematic approach for gear there as well.
Specifically, I have my riding clothes beside me in the tent and dress sitting up while in the bag. While on it, I open the valve for my mat so it deflates. Then I get out of the bag and stuff it into its compression sack. Then I roll up my mat. Then I open the tent and get out, take the fly off, reach in and remove my bag mat and panniers and break down the tent. Done.

Another thing is having a place for everything (and everything in it's place). A bit OCD perhaps but I really don't have to think about where something is or where it goes. I could locate my whole kit with my eyes closed.

Last is keeping breakfast simple. That's just my thing but I want to get going in the morning and would rather relax at the end of the day, so I leave fancy cooking for then. If I cook at all breakfast is boiling water and adding it to instant coffee/hot chocolate and a sandwich bag of quick oatmeal. I make up the baggies ahead of time and add whatever I want like brown sugar raisins etc... While it expands (about 5 minutes or so) I pack up the cooker, do toiletry stuff and then drink and rinse my cup and eat the oatmeal out of the baggie by biting an end off and squeezing it out. No dishes to wash. YMMV of course but I'm almost always solo so no one is there to award style points anyway

Last edited by Happy Feet; 04-05-19 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 04-05-19, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet

1. One is that I put things away after I use them and clean up as I go. Other people look like their panniers exploded all over the camp.

2. While on it, I open the valve for my mat so it deflates.

3. Another thing is having a place for everything (and everything in it's place). A bit OCD perhaps but I really don't have to think about where something is or where it goes. I could locate my whole kit with my eyes closed.

4. Last is keeping breakfast simple. That's just my thing but I want to get going in the morning and would rather relax at the end of the day, so I leave fancy cooking for then. If I cook at all breakfast is boiling water
A man after my own heart.

Out of the above, I would say not doing No. 1 (I am guilty sometimes) causes the most delay. Even if you don't put away no longer needed things right away, do it before you turn in. I have been known to piss myself off when I want to get a fast start and realize that I was lazy the night before.

Opening the valve on your mattress is a great motivator, especially if you have been sleeping on hard ground. I also have my riding clothes readily accessible, usually in my sleeping bag stuff sack to turn it into a pillow. Out on the bibs, leg warmers (if using) and riding socks (unless it's cold and/or the ground is wet). I also try to stuff the sleeping bag before I ever get out of the tent.

I recently commented on another forum about packing. I too have my stuff segregated so I know where everything goes and where everything is.

I am a morning coffee addict. I boil water for that, and that is almost it. If it's chilly out and I have a bagel, I will heat/toast it in the same little pot I used to boil the coffee water. Nothing more elaborate breakfast cooking-wise. I too save that for dinner. By the time I have packed up the tent, etc., the stove is cool enough to handle.
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Old 04-05-19, 04:09 PM
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My right pannier is my stuff sack for a sleeping bag and air mattress and things I seldom use like rain gear.
I am tired of using stuff sacks. They take too much time.
My tent and rain fly is rolled up together in the ground cloth and placed on top of the rack along with the tent poles.
My left pannier has everything else I need I actually use during the day.
The most time consuming thing I do is wash and dry clothes by hand.
I eat in restaurants so that saves a lot of fuss.
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Old 04-05-19, 04:47 PM
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what the other guys said, re putting crap away right away, always having the same spot for stuff, and having clothes organized the night before--generally all common sense.

here's another thing though--getting a proper nights sleep.

I'm not a morning person, but if I have a good nights sleep, I find its easier to get my act together. If not, then I'm all sleepyheaded for ages.
I too do simple breakfasts, hot water for coffee, and easy to eat stuff like yogurt, bread, jam, fruit. Fast and little cleanup.

I find getting the morning constitutional out of the way often adds time, as its not like a light switch you turn on to make happen, and it is important to get done before heading out (and touches on eating a well balanced diet and hydrating properly, as these are factors).
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Old 04-05-19, 05:46 PM
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Simplify your packing. Cut it down to bare minimum. Pack for a biking trip, not a camping trip. If it doesn't support the biking, don't bring it. If you'd rather be on a camping trip, just accept that things will take longer to pack.

Consider stoveless camping to save time and fuss. Forget about the concept of meals. First thing you eat can be just a few Fig Newtons while packing up, which can take as little as 15 minutes. Stop again in an hour or two for a cup of muesli. And every couple of hours for tortillas, cheese, PB, nuts, dried fruit, dried meat if you like. Instant mashed potatoes and couscous will rehydrate with cold water. Ramen is already cooked and can be eaten like a big cracker. If you must have coffee, never mind.
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Old 04-05-19, 06:24 PM
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I'll mention a trick I learned from a river runner: Only get out of your tent once in the morning. At my age, a pee can be more important, but the trick is to pack bag, pad and empty the tent first. Then ...
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Old 04-05-19, 06:59 PM
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I put a checklist of my equipment and what pannier it belongs in into my handlebar map case. Each pannier had a separate sheet listing it’s contents. Saves time packing up.

I agree with Happy Feet to put it back in its place soon after using it.

I was camping one time and a backpacker had all of his stuff dumped out on the floor taking up most of the leanto. His inconsideration made it hard on all of us and made for a very late start. I hammock camp now - helps to avoid these problems. Hammock camping I find is quicker for packing up. Tarp and hammock go quickly in separate sleeves.

The tip about having your next day’s clothes in the sleeping bag stuff sack is spot on.
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Old 04-05-19, 08:57 PM
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About two weeks into a long tour, you've gotten a system down, intentionally or not. A morning routine of what to do and in what order, an evening routine of pitching, eating, and whatever else you like to do (I like writing a journal). A routine on resupplying; how often, where, what to get. When to take a break during the day, for how long, for what purpose.

Once you've developed a system and settled into it, the ride gets a lot easier. Just so happens two weeks is about the same amount of time it takes to physically adjust to the rigor of a long tour.

It's the second week of a long tour that's the hardest. You haven't gotten all the way in shape yet, nor developed your system, and the excitement you had during the first week has worn off.
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Old 04-05-19, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer
About two weeks into a long tour, you've gotten a system down, intentionally or not. A morning routine of what to do and in what order, an evening routine of pitching, eating, and whatever else you like to do (I like writing a journal). A routine on resupplying; how often, where, what to get. When to take a break during the day, for how long, for what purpose.

Once you've developed a system and settled into it, the ride gets a lot easier. Just so happens two weeks is about the same amount of time it takes to physically adjust to the rigor of a long tour.

It's the second week of a long tour that's the hardest. You haven't gotten all the way in shape yet, nor developed your system, and the excitement you had during the first week has worn off.
I'm sorry, but the high level of common sense and plain old truth registered here is just not acceptable on an internet forum, I am shocked, shocked, that gambling is taking place in this establishment!

come on buddy, let's read some stuff about Dangers from Garter Snakes or something.
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Old 04-06-19, 11:23 AM
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I once encountered a baby garter snake trying to strike at my foot. The older ones are smarter and run away. They do run, right?
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Old 04-06-19, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s
I once encountered a baby garter snake trying to strike at my foot. The older ones are smarter and run away. They do run, right?
Ive been bit by them as a kid picking them up, kinda hurt a bit. Its a wonder I made it this far and even contemplate going out in the woods anymore.
Run? I have seen them Slytherin away mostly, but maybe I just miss the faster running ones if I'm too slow to turn and look.
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Old 04-06-19, 11:35 AM
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Just back from Utah, so these are fresh observations:

1. Getting stuff like a tent or rain fly dry before packing is key. So start that as soon as you are awake.

2. If you don't cook/eat in the campsite, it reduces all the chores by at least a factor of 2. If you have to eat, and can avoid using a stove (involuntary in my case), something cold and self-contained like a bagel and apple is ideal. No clean-up.
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Old 04-06-19, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott
Just back from Utah, so these are fresh observations:

1. Getting stuff like a tent or rain fly dry before packing is key. So start that as soon as you are awake.

2. If you don't cook/eat in the campsite, it reduces all the chores by at least a factor of 2. If you have to eat, and can avoid using a stove (involuntary in my case), something cold and self-contained like a bagel and apple is ideal. No clean-up.
While drying the rain fly and tent as soon as possible is a a good idea, it is may not be possible. I carry a couple plastic grocery bags stuffed in one of my panniers. If my fly, tent or ground cloth are wet I separate the tent, which is usually the driest, and put the rain fly and ground cloth in the other bag. If conditions permit, I'll try to dry it out at lunch time or if the weather is bad, wait until the tent is set up later in the day. Our tent has been wet for several days at a tine, and that is usually a good excuse to dry it in a motel room
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Old 04-07-19, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
While drying the rain fly and tent as soon as possible is a a good idea, it is may not be possible. I carry a couple plastic grocery bags stuffed in one of my panniers. If my fly, tent or ground cloth are wet I separate the tent, which is usually the driest, and put the rain fly and ground cloth in the other bag. If conditions permit, I'll try to dry it out at lunch time or if the weather is bad, wait until the tent is set up later in the day. Our tent has been wet for several days at a tine, and that is usually a good excuse to dry it in a motel room
Ditto this. If I can't find time to dry a tent out for several days in row, that means all my other insulation is probably damp and needs a good drying out in a laundry or motel room somewhere. Or a large fire if I'm in the backcountry. I can manage with a wet tent, but not so much with the sleeping bag. I've learned my limit for non-stop rain and condensing fog is four nights.

My tent is a single-wall silnylon job and only needs a few minutes of sun or wind to dry. And it packs in about a minute.

That's another tip for quick packing--look at a Tarptent.

I keep one pack dry, everything else can get wet. Stuff like the tent, tool kit, food bag, and rain gear can stay wet. Insulation, maps, electronics must stay dry.
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Old 04-07-19, 06:43 AM
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My energy levels are proportinal to the hours displayed on my watch, so morning routines have always been tough - subscribed.
Thanks for all your comments and aaking the initial question in the first place.
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Old 04-07-19, 10:48 AM
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If you are a neat and organized person, you don't need us. You will develop your own tidy system.

If you are have ADHD with hoarding, or just a slob, we can't help you.
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Old 04-07-19, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike
If you are a neat and organized person, you don't need us. You will develop your own tidy system.

If you are have ADHD with hoarding, or just a slob, we can't help you.
Tim, not to be mean about this, but I just had to laugh at this, because as blunt as it is, he really does hit the nail on the head.
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Old 04-07-19, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
Tim, not to be mean about this, but I just had to laugh at this, because as blunt as it is, he really does hit the nail on the head.
One can be blunt without being being insulting and implying that I have ADHD or am a slob because I asked the question in the first place is the latter.

His and your response are basically saying, "Go away. Figure it out yourself." To that end, I'm perfectly able to "develop my own tidy system" but asking those with experience might help accelerate that process, that's all. I've fired people with this attitude, refusing to share knowledge but instead trying to humiliate those who know less. Its arrogance.

Thank you to the rest of you. Some very good ideas to consider. I appreciate it.


-Tim-
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Old 04-07-19, 01:40 PM
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I think there is a place for mentoring in outdoor pursuits.

I feel self sufficiency is an extremely important skill set to possess no doubt but you can definitely pick up stuff by spending time with a more experienced person. I was a scouter for seven years and that was the main basis behind working with the kids.

It's also how skills are passed along once you have taken basic scuba courses. Informal mentoring and sharing of ideas. I spend time with a very good bike mechanic to pick up tips and tricksand have even paid his shop rate to get him to show me certain repairs.

But it doesn't always work. Ive been trying to teach my wife to clean as she cooks but so far she has resisted all efforts for 29 years. When I cook there are one or two pots left; when she cooks it's shades of Hiroshima

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Old 04-07-19, 02:00 PM
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Backcountry Etiquette

# 1 . Leave No Trace.. flattened grass should rebound soon after you leave..

Be the opposite of a homeless camp, they leave their refuse all around where they camp. ..







...

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Old 04-07-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
One can be blunt without being being insulting and implying that I have ADHD or am a slob because I asked the question in the first place is the latter.

His and your response are basically saying, "Go away. Figure it out yourself." To that end, I'm perfectly able to "develop my own tidy system" but asking those with experience might help accelerate that process, that's all. I've fired people with this attitude, refusing to share knowledge but instead trying to humiliate those who know less. Its arrogance.

Thank you to the rest of you. Some very good ideas to consider. I appreciate it.


-Tim-
I need to apologize, Im sorry that my comment came across that way....problems with typing and intent--it was meant as a laugh at all of us, not personal at all. Heck, I really laughed because of personal experience, of having all my crap all over the tent in the morning, and or having too much stuff to begin with---so all that to say that I certainly DIDNT mean it to be personal and I didnt take his comment as that either, more that there is only so much typing on an internet forum that can help, its up to us to figure out how to be organized, and again, from personal experience, it didnt matter what people said to me beforehand, I had to figure it out on my own.

good luck with getting a system that is efficient and that works for you.

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Old 04-07-19, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
...implying that I have ADHD or am a slob...
I implied nothing.

In my experience, neat and organized people can't help themselves any more than sloppy people can change their DNA. I have been working for two guys who DO HAVE ADHD with hording and have been "helping" for about 12 years now. No amount of "coaching" on Earth can help them. I have even informed them that if I slip on the stairs inside the building because they leave tools, mail, magazines, empty lunch containers, motorcycle parts, whatever on the damn stairs - I will sue them. Still, EVERY DAY they leave stuff on the stairway.

I do not know you or what kind of person you are, but I do have a ton of experience with hiring/firing people in large and small businesses. I am one extreme for sure. If you leave a tool on your workbench overnight, it will be the paperweight for your pink slip next morning. However, I can't fire the owner and manager in this case. In my experience, organized people are continually figuring out better ways to do things (which is why I didn't contaminate your thinking with MY way to pack a suitcase) and slobs can not change. Which is why I have to simply replace them as soon as they reveal themselves. I know better than to give sloppy people advice.

If you are an organized person, you will easily figure this out. If you are a slob, you never will.

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Old 04-08-19, 06:10 AM
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I organize by bags and location on the bike. All cooking stuff together. Tools and repair parts as well. On bike clothes in one area, off bike clothes in another. Phone, money, id in the handlebar bag. What ever the system that works for you. When I get up, I start the water for coffee and oatmeal first. Bandana, sunglasses and gloves always go in the helmet too. I usually try to put my sleeping kit on the ground cloth as I pack.
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Old 04-08-19, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet
I think there is a place for mentoring in outdoor pursuits.

I feel self sufficiency is an extremely important skill set to possess no doubt but you can definitely pick up stuff by spending time with a more experienced person.
+1. My first unsupported tour was across the U.S. and then some. One reason why went with a small group trip run by Adventure Cycling Association was that I was a city boy. The sum total of my camping experience consisted of setting up my tent in my mom's living room, nearly knocking over a lamp in the process. And I had no idea what a portable camp stove looked like, much less how to prepare dinner for 13 people. The tour leader was nice enough to put me last on the cooking rotation list. For the first 6 days I watched the others so I could learn. Even then I burnt the crap out my right index finger when I accidentally touched a hot part of one of the stoves that had fallen over in the grass. Another time someone stopped me from pitching my tent in a certain spot my pointing out the water runoff channels. Never would have thought of it.
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