How Can a Gear List Work For You?

Like a good number of readers of this blog I enjoy going over my gearlists. Gear gets old and needs replacing, new gear needs trying out, gear that is redundant gets left at home – the reasons a gear list can change are countless. Having an up to date gear list typed, organized, and at the ready is key to trip planning. Particularly, having a gear list at the ready, printed and posted near your gear or near the area that you arrange your gear for a trip is extremely helpful in expediting the preparation process.

For the past few years I’ve gone backpacking nearly ever summer weekend. I typically work until late afternoon on Friday and want to be able to head out the door immediately when done so I often pack for a trip on Thursday evening. In order to make this go as smoothly and efficiently as possible I had the idea a couple years ago to print my gear list and tape it to my wall. For the past year my roommate and I both reference two lists taped to the wall of our kitchen – one contains everything you need for a summer backpacking trip, the other for a day trip splitboarding.

Since my roommate and I both have different brands of gear and since choices between brands or models of gear may vary from trip to trip I find a generic list to be most effective. The list is broken down into a few columns:

  • Category – an organizational column such as ‘clothing’, ‘packing’, ‘repair’, ‘electronics’, et al
  • Item – referring to item type, aka ‘map’, ‘pants’, ‘backpack’, ‘tarp’, etc
  • Worn – the weight of any item that is worn on your person
  • In Pack – the weight of any item not always worn but more typically found in your pack

Of the above columns if you were even more a minimalist you could simply list all your “items”, leaving off the category and weights. I appreciate the Category column however as it allows me to mentally group pieces of kit together in my head as I mentally check off the list.

I’ve posted a gear list to the wall of the kitchen because it has a large section of floor space onto which gear can be piled. All my gear is stored in bins adjacent to the kitchen in my garage and the bins are loosely organized similarly to the categories listed on the spreadsheet. For instance, to start I would pull the shelter bin down off the shelf and grab the most fitting shelter for my trip. Next I would pull the Cooking/Hydration bin down and find the necessary water bottle, utensil, stove, pot, water treatment, et al.

I find that the majority of the list is in my head and I can grab items willy-nilly from the bins, throwing them into a pile on the floor without looking at the list. Then, once I can’t think of any more items to grab I go to the list and read it from top to bottom, specifically resting my eyes on each line so as to not gloss any one item over. Once I come to a list item that I have not yet added to the pile I immediately go get it, add it to the pile and continue reading down the list. This attention to detail will seem silly and wasteful to some but to me it avoids something that I consider really wasteful and silly – – getting halfway to a trailhead and having to turn around because you realize you forgot your hiking shoes.

Use this list as a template by viewing the shared document entitled gearlist_generic_summer.ods.

Gearlist Generic Summer
Gearlist Generic Summer