Staying Organized as You Break Camp

Hiking gear in the forest
Average read time 1 min

Have you lost stuff on your backcountry trips? We see it, items left at the trailhead waiting for owners to “return” and get them. Usually minor items. One outing we were coming from Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks and there was an expensive Northface jacket draped over the register.

A couple of weeks ago we were out on West Kill Mountain in the Catskills and returned to our car via the Diamond Notch Trail. We arrived at the Diamond Notch Lean-to to find all sorts of items left, including an MSR stove and fuel canister!

Over the years we have left stuff in the woods. One way to minimize loss is how your break camp. I have observed many packing methods over the years. Some not so good. I’ve seen people spreading stuff out on the ground, boulders, in their tents, and simply jamming gear into their pack without any rhyme or reason.

Use your sleeping pad and lose nothing

Our simple method of breaking camp and repacking uses our sleeping pad or a lightweight tarp. It’s very simple but effective.

Items randomly in tent. 2 hikers and gear mixed up.
Items randomly in our tent. 2 hikers and gear mixed up. Copyright Challenged Hiking

Before you take your tent down, take your sleeping pad or a lightweight tarp and lay it out on the ground (or in your tent if bad weather) and use that as your “packing table”.

When you have your pad or tarp out begin removing items from the tent and organize it so it is visible and ready to pack. Take down your tent only after everything else is out and organized on your pad. When done you should have everything you need to pack on your pad or tarp.

Gear in order on pad waiting to be packed
Gear in order on pad waiting to be packed Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking

It’s that simple. Do you have any camp breakdown advice? Chime in and comment.