What’s in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

In exactly 12 hours from this very moment, I’ll be on a red-eye flight down to my hometown, Miami. I’m heading south for a few reasons: I am in desperate need of some sea-time, I’m celebrating my little sister’s graduation, and we’re embarking on a cross-country road trip to move her out to Denver! Instead of the usual two-day haul I usually struggle through during drives from Florida to Colorado, we decided to make an adventure out of it.

First, we’re heading up the Florida coast to Tallahassee to see my pup, Amble, and climb at Tallahassee Rock Gym. We’ll visit my sister’s friend in Atlanta before heading to Chattanooga for my favorite part of this trip: climbing at Stone Fort and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium! Then we’ll jet westward, stopping to visit family friends in Kansas City and exploring along the way.

Since my sister will be bringing everything she owns in her little sedan, I’m trying to pack as light as possible. I’m only bringing my Topo Designs Klettersack, and my new Keen sling I picked up at Outdoor Retailer last week. Here’s a quick peek into my #FLtoCO road trip bag:

What's in my pack? Miami to Colorado edition. #FLtoCO

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How to pack light and smart – lessons learned from a chronic over-packer

As a seasoned road tripper, my packing skills rely on the presence of multiple nooks and car crannies where I can squirrel away all the non-essential, but I don’t want to be without, items like head lamps, biodegradable wipies, spare pairs of gloves, etc. While preparing to embark on my first airborne adventure in over two years, I came upon the startling realization that I am a chronic over-packer.

But I’m always prepared! On climbing trips, I am the go-to gal for all the random camping ware, spare socks, and mismatched supplies that everyone else leaves at home. My purse is always loaded with everything one could possibly need, and my backpack is the heaviest damn thing to tote on hikes – but I’m always prepared.

The thought of cramming everything that I’m going to need for the next four weeks of traveling into one small suitcase and one carry-on backpack is overwhelming. Thus, as I learn from my own attempts at becoming a smarter packer, I’ll share my pre-trip preparations in hopes of providing the packing tips necessary to help some other over-packing schmuck overcome their compulsion to carry everything.

Let’s Begin: Prepare the packings! Do all your laundry, wash your smelly shoes, sort through your camera equipment, and lay everything you think you’re going to take out on a flat surface, like your bed. Hm, all that junk is never going to fit in your modestly-sized luggage, eh? Here comes the tricky part:

Now get rid of HALF of what you planned on packing.

Don’t worry, this sent me into a panic too. You mean I can’t bring four pairs of leggings, three different pairs of boots, my tri-pod, and fourteen pairs of socks? It’s time to prioritize – and remember that washing machines are available at your destination, so you don’t actually need enough clothes to last through the duration of your travels. It’s time to prioritize, and honestly, when it comes to clothes, this is simply going to help you weed through the ruckus to find your favorite wardrobe items – so take solace in knowing that you may have to do a load or two of laundry along your journey, but you’ll look damn good throughout the trip.

I’m encountering the issue of packing for varying climates. I’ll begin my journey in freezing cold Denver, Colorado, then I’ll fly down to sweltering South Florida, and finally, I’ll be heading out on a climbing trip to a chilly southeastern mountain destination. So how do I prioritize and find room for both bikinis and wool socks, plus all my climbing gear? Here’s what my bed looks like with my to-be-packed mess spread out on it:

For jackets and bulky clothes, consider investing in those sweet vacuum-sealed bags that suck all the air out of your fluffy jackets, making them much more manageable. I was lucky enough to inherit a bundle from my doting mother, but budget-minded vagabonds can also use gallon-sized plastic bags. Just fill ‘em up, seal the zip most of the way, sit on the back to squish out all the air, zip that sucker up, and voila! I recently read a blog article about a woman who uses plastic bags to create an outfit a day when she packs – but my adventures are too spontaneous for that kind of planning.

Other great tips include:

Roll your shirts/tank tops up as tight as possible.

(My suitcase has two metal bars going through the bottom of it,
so rolled up clothes and tights fit perfectly into the small spaces that would otherwise be wasted.)

Fold wisely – think Tetris.

Save the small stuff for last.

(Small, especially rolled up, items can be crammed into the
various little pockets of space created by your larger items.)

Put liquid items in a plastic bag.

(Seriously, there is nothing worse than an exploded bottle of moisturizer all over
your favorite flannel. Quickly popping your liquids/oils in a little zip-lock bag will contain any mid-flight eruptions).

Pack chronically.

(For instance: I’ll be in Miami before I head to colder climates,so my bulky zip-locked
sweaters are positioned at the bottom of my suitcase, since I won’t be needing them for a few weeks.)

With a little bit of planning, execution, and burly arm strength, any over-packing schmuck can transform into a zipped-up, ready-to-roll travel expert. Honestly, if I can fit all that junk on my bed into two small bags, anyone can. I ended up taking just one big jacket, a lighter jacket, one sweatshirt, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of leggings, two flannels, my thermals, a few tank tops, a pair of shorts (okay, maybe three pairs of shorts – but I’m excited about this warm weather, okay?), one dress, one pair of sandals, one pair of boots, one pair of Toms, and the usual under garments. And I will confess, I had to take four pairs of my favorite wool socks – I’ve become a sock fanatic.

Here’s my end result:

There you have it, advice on packing lightly, or at least light enough to fit it all in a reasonably-sized space – and proof that is can actually be accomplished. The biggest obstacle standing between me and my 6:00 AM flight has been conquered.

Follow my escapades through Denver, Atlanta, Florida, and beyond in real time on Twitter @themorningfresh
and check out The Morning Fresh on Facebook for additional updates – join in on the conversation!

Join me for a month-long trip down to sunny Florida and the southeast – if I can figure out how to pack…

After two cross-country climbing trips, one epic seven-week solo trip, and countless excursions around the country, you’d think I’d be a seasoned expert when it comes to packing my bags and gearing up for traveling – but this upcoming trip has me stumped. I’ve grown so accustomed to road tripping that the idea of fitting everything I need in a small suitcase and backpack is befuddling. Not to mention that this will be the first time I’m traveling via airplane in over two years.

In less than 24 hours, I’ll be boarding at plane at Denver International Airport to head south like a migrating goose escaping the cold. My first stop will be a brief layover in Atlanta, then I’ll hop another flight that will leave me in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The plan from there is to scoop drinks on the bay with my dad, then make the short drive home to Miami – to do lots of this:

I’ll be spending the first ten days of my trip in my hometown of Miami, sipping cocktails while tanning by the pool, feasting on real Cuban cuisine, hiking through the Everglades, and catching up on all the sunshine I’ve been missing. After Christmas, Niko will be driving down from Tampa to spend a few nights in Miami before whisking me away to the panhandle. We’ll make a pitstop in Tampa for a night, then it’s off to Tallahassee for two weeks of hanging with hipsters – and copious amounts of time spent at Tally Rock Gym.

Somewhere in all that Floridian exploration, Niko and I hope to find time for a climbing trip somewhere in the southeast. Chattanooga, Alabama, Georgia, who knows.

Follow my travels in real time on Twitter @themorningfresh!
and stay tuned to The Morning Fresh for adventure updates, photos, and more. [Read more…]

What’s in your climbing pack? The readers have spoken!

I asked my loyal readers a simple question: “What are the top 10 items you’d pack for a climbing trip?” – And the most popular answer came from a non-climber.

“Whiskey, beer, other intoxicating substances, sleeping pills, cigarettes, lighter, fanny pack, sunglasses, and band aids for when you consume all the special treats from your fanny pack and fall flat on your face and break your sunglasses.” – Anonymous

Not exactly the most prolific packing list, but she clearly won the reader’s choice award for her witty answer. Other honorable mentions included mail order Russian brides, nail clippers, guts, a competitive spirit, etc.

What would I stick in my custom made Kendal Jackson pack? My camera, chapstick, fruit leathers, wet wipes and my trusty green water bottle. Check out my packing list from my November trip to Little Rock City.

My favorite answer came from Jeff Williams, who would pack “Nutella, Rigby, CLIMB ON, and Niko” – Rigby is his beautiful Jeep that I lived in for two weeks over the summer during our epic road trip.

Continue reading for more reader submitted packing lists! [Read more…]

Off to Tennessee – So, What’s in my Pack?

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s off towards the mountains I go! Packing for a climbing trip has become a true art form, especially in times like these when I’ll be traveling five people deep in a Ford Focus – that’s 5 sleeping bags, 5 sets of climbing gear, 5 bags of food/utensils, 5 bags of clothes, 5 people’s crap in one car. The trick is, lay out what you think you need, then reduce that amount by half. Here’s my final packing spread:

  1. The Stone Fort bouldering guide. Pick up a copy at Tally Rock Gym!
  2. Marisa’s beautiful Nikon d60 D-SLR.
  3. A set of thermal under clothes, compliments of Walmart’s little boys section.
  4. My trusty refillable water bottle.
  5. Bio-wipies, because boys get stinky after climbing with no showers.
  6. Pink gloves to keep ‘em fingers warm.
  7. Hand warmers for when the gloves aren’t enough.
  8. My beloved Ray Bans.
  9. A newly purchased beanie.
  10. My gorgeous Katanas, barely broken in but ready to crush rock.
  11. Fruit leathers, lots and lots of fruit leathers.
  12. A Kendal Jackson chalk bag.
  13. Crappy old boots, compliments of Walmart.
  14. My favorite tube scarf, colored to match my Katanas.
  15. A bar of Climb On to repair cracked fingertips.

And that’s pretty much it. Also packed I have socks, undies, my chargers, an extra long sleeve t-shirt, sweatpants and a purple bandana gifted to me by my human rights professor. To eat, we’ve got a few packets of instant mashed potatoes, canned soup, granola bars and oatmeal mix. Of course, can’t forget the sleeping bag. There really isn’t much else a gal needs!