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October 2014 Issue
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Gear packing tips

Colour coded stuff sacks can help organise your load.

Nathan Watson reveals some tricks of the trade for ensuring your pack isn’t bulging at the seams by the time you head out on the trail.

Divide into compartments: Most packs are just a single barrel-like shape ready to be stuffed with gear. You should divide your pack into sections and pack the same gear in the same place every time, that way you’ll get a system going that you can repeat over and over.

Use colour coded stuff sacks: This way you’ll know what lives in each colour and won’t have any problem identifying what you need. Red for spare clothes, blue is food, green is the cooker, black is the first aid kit and so on.

Keep the outside clean: Hanging items off the outside of your pack is a sign of one of two things: you either have too much stuff or you haven’t packed well enough. Items can easily get damaged or lost when you attach to the outside so keep repacking until you get it all in. A bed roll, drink bottle/cup or tent should be your only ‘outside pack’ items.

Conduct a test run: Don’t try and pack your gear for the first time at a wet and windy car park. Practise in the comfort of your lounge where you can take time to get it right and rearrange items. It’s also way better to realise you’ve forgotten your head torch at this point, rather than three hours’ drive from home!

– Nathan Watson is the Mountain Safety Council’s outdoor land safety manager