Pack Packed
Monday, March 14, 2016 12:14 am

Today, I spent most of the day going through my gear, weighing individual items, and figuring out how to cram everything into my pack.

I spent a couple of hours figuring out my water system. First was confirming that the water filter was operating correctly (it was) and trying to use it. The more time consuming part was figuring out how I would connect the water filter to my Camelbak water bladder in a way that would allow filling the bladder without requiring digging the bladder out of my pack (or running a hose into my pack). The bladder is in a somewhat inconvenient to access spot, which is fine if I can get away without ever actually having to access it, but that requires filling it through its output tube. (Trying to fill the bladder in-place through its intended input would be difficult, not to mention potentially messy and leaky.)

My purchases on Tuesday and Thursday also included some tube adaptors. With some trial-and-error and some surgery to my Camelbak's water tube, I can now easily remove the mouthpiece and directly connect my water filter to the tube, allowing the Camelbak to fill. I also have an adaptor (tube to standard small-mouth screw-top) that will allow easily filling my water bottle. I can also fill the Camelbak from that extra water bottle, though that requires futzing with the hoses and adaptors. I could remedy the futzing with some more equipment (that would also add an automatic shut-off on disconnection, to prevent spilling), but that’s more weight, and really more of a convenience than anything. We’ll find out if the current setup winds up being annoying enough to be worth the extra weight later, but if it turns out that it is, it should be with easily-obtainable parts from Amazon or a well-stocked outfitter.

I then spent several hours organizing and packing my gear. For awhile, it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to get everything (including probably an excessive amount of initial food) crammed into the pack, due to lack of space. Fortunately, I realized that I was underutilizing the compression sack with my sleeping bag, which is located at the bottom of my pack below everything else, and moved my tent into the compression sack. Now, everything fits! (Well, except for a half dozen packages of Ramen.)

I have three water containers: the 2L Camelbak, a 2L flexible bottle, and a 1L hard plastic bottle. The hard plastic bottle is relatively heavy; I may seek out a lighter bottle with a standard screw-top so it works better with my water system.

5L of water is probably excessive, but I'd rather have the capacity and not use it all, than run into a situation where I need more water than I have space for. (The flexible bottle is really nice, in that it takes less space if it's not filled.)

With the possibly excessive amount of food and water, my pack has a wet weight of 42.5 lbs. I’m hoping this will be the largest amount of weight I’ll ever have to carry, but it’s pretty heavy. Climbing the stairs in my house wearing a 40 lb pack is a chore. (It'd probably be easier, but I'm not using my trekking poles in the house, and those aren't factored into the weight either.)

I relocated my rain jacket from a side pocket to my pack’s brain, alongside the waterproof pack cover, and practiced getting the pack cover out without having to take the pack off at all. Getting the rain jacket on requires partially undoing the pack (because there’s really no other way to do it), but I can get the jacket out and on without completely taking the pack off. The rain paints will remain in the side pocket for now, which means that, without assistance, I’ll have to take the pack off in order to get at them.

I still need another drysack to use for food storage (though I may just get a stuffsack instead, since I intend to keep food in ziplock bags, and it’ll be lighter); a lighter; and soap. Now that I've found a little more space in the pack, I might consider swapping my cook set for a slightly larger one, but that's really going to depend on how much extra weight that adds.

I may also look at alternative bladders. The Camelbak (especially when full) isn't really designed for where it's sitting in the pack; a better bladder would be wider and not as thick. And if it's lighter, so much the better. Unfortunately, I don't really have a good way of weighing the bladder because it's somewhat awkwardly shaped and insists on flopping off of my scale.

This time next week, I'll be on a train to Georgia. Not long to go...

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