Saturday, 1 October 2011

On re-organizing my packing strategy

In some cases, you never know how good you are at something until an outside element gives you pause to reflect. One example of this was on a car-camping trip I was on to Nova Scotia in 1986 with my parents, and siblings Alice and Philip. We had arrived at a campsite and proceeded to set our tents, etc. After a while, we were greeted with applause by the people at the next site over. They were impressed at how quickly and efficiently we had set up our tents, etc. Of course, they didn't know we'd had worked out our roles in a long trip from California to Quebec the year before, so we all knew who does what when arriving at a campsite. However, we hadn't realised just how good we were until our neighbours at the camp ground applauded us!

After five years of biking touring, I like to think that I have worked out a reasonably efficient method of packing my gear into my set of MEC Cordura bags. The "office" of books, electronic support devices (battery charges, etc.) and other dry odds and ends go in the front left bag. Tool kit and rain gear in the front right bag. Sunscreen, toilet paper, cup, cable lock and bug dope go in the back pouches of the rear bags. I have been more flexible about the main compartments of the rear bags as their contents vary somewhat depending on the trip. In Newfoundland, for instance, the right rear bag was clothes and food, whereas the left one was largely given over to camping gear. In short, I knew what I could carry and where I would carry it.

This meant I didn't have to think too hard about in the pre-trip planning and packing stage. This went out the window when I bought a pair of yellow Ortlieb Front-Roller Classic waterproof pannier bags this afternoon. There are two reasons for this. The first is that they are somewhat larger than the MEC Cordura PF-21's they are replacing, and therefore my overall volume budget it larger than it was. In addition, as they are waterproof, it no longer makes sense to put my tools and rain gear in the front right bag. Also, I am adding sleeping gear to my usual load, hence more volume. I could add a bag on top of my rear rack, but that isn't ideal. Anyway, my plan is to do a test pack of the bags on Leonardo in order to see what works best. One advantage of this is that I can then put much the gear into my duffle bag, ready for the trip to Oz. Hmm, that reminds me that I should include the duffle bag in my packing experiment!

Or maybe not. I should mail it to my end point. Hmm, I must investigate the Australian postal service.

I looked up the Aussie post office and mailing a parcel of duffle bag, and bits looks like the sensible option. Subsequently, I inquired of a hostel in Broken Hill, and they said they could hold the parcel for me, so that looks set.

Using the logic that I wouldn't remember all the bits, I stuffed most of the things on my packing list into 3 out of my four panniers, excluding one of the front ones. I could do it, but the rear ones were very full. I am still dithering about whether to seek out additional volume.

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