Friday morning. The alarm goes off an hour earlier than usual, and that singsong chime sounds especially annoying at 4:30 a.m. Barely cognizant and buried deep in the folds of your warm sheets, you hit the snooze and sink back into slumber. At 4:39 you hit it again … 4:48, just one more time. At 4:57 it hits you. Why am I waking up so early?!
Friday. The weekend. Driving up to the mountains after work for a two-night backpacking trip. Haven’t started packing.
Weekend warriors are in many ways, the most productive and committed adventurers out there. Lives full with work and family, evening appointments and volunteering, yet still there’s awareness that wilderness and adventure are necessities. Motivating to get out on the weekend can be a challenge, and planning and packing is an overwhelming task. Leave it all until Friday, and yes, being a weekend warrior seems next to impossible. However, stay organized by employing some of the strategies listed below, and it may begin to feel like a breeze. Here are six tips to get you out the door with energy to spare on Friday afternoon.
1. Go-To Meals for Quick Shopping
Veggies and quinoa? Annie’s Mac & Cheese? Coconut curry … or Mountain House? Clearly your food choices will depend on your activity—bike touring vs. fast-and-light alpine climbing vs. camping—but it is helpful to have go-to meals for each type of weekend jaunt to make for fast food packing. Keep lists of meal ingredients and shopping needs on your phone so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel each time you meal-plan or grocery shop for the next trip. Additionally, buy in bulk; when you pack non-perishables or dried food for one weekend, it just takes a few more minutes to pack for the next four as well.
2. Bins Bins Bins
When all of your gear is organized and easy to find, packing will be a breeze. I like to keep separate bins for storing cooking supplies, sleeping gear, climbing gear, biking gear, running gear, etc. If bulky items don’t fit into their designated bin, have very specific locations where they live so they are easy to find. You can even go the extra mile and hang activity-specific packing lists next to your storage area so that no headlamp, tire repair kit, or water filter is left behind.
3. Be a Sunday Night Warrior Too
The car turns the corner into the driveway and comes to a halt. Home. You’re feeling full from the weekend’s adventures, and so is your car—a damp, sandy wetsuit is crumpled in a pile in the backseat, the morning’s eggs are still on the frying pan, dirty socks lay by the gas pedal, and an empty white gas bottle rolls onto the ground when you open the trunk. This is the crux of the weekend. Take the minutes now to unpack completely—throwing dirty laundry in the washing machine, cleaning dishes, hanging gear up to dry—and ‘repack’ completely—refilling white gas and depleted cooking supplies and toilet paper, returning all items to their bins. If it doesn’t happen on Sunday evening, chances are you’ll encounter wet and dirty gear when you attempt to pack the following Friday. Additionally, being cognizant of a streamlined Sunday evening while you’re still in the wilderness will go a long way—ensuring your tent is dry when you put it away, making a pile of dirty laundry in the car, sorting garbage and unused food at mealtimes. Be kind to your future self.
4. Keep a Set of Doubles
I don’t often advocate for buying more stuff, but here is where it really comes in handy. Having a set of dishes, cooking oil, spices, and toiletries dedicated to your weekend ramblings does wonders when it comes to packing efficiently and not forgetting anything.
5. Do it IAD (In A Day)
It’s all the rage these days, at least in the realm of climbing. The Nose in a Day (NIAD), Mt. Rainier in a Day, and if you’re Killian Jornet, even Aconcagua IAD. Fast-and-light isn’t fun for everyone, but if you really want to minimize the perils of weekend warrior packing, it might be for you. Stuff two days of adventure and exertion into one, and you can leave the sleeping and cooking gear at home.
The linchpin of it all—simplicity. Less is more, especially when it comes to packing. Minimize the amount of special purpose gear that you buy—the same jacket can be used for fishing and skiing, and the same approach shoes for climbing and hiking. Additionally, no matter what your list, it can likely be shaved down by a few items, meaning less to pack, unpack and maintain when you return home.
Originally Published August 9th, 2016.