Summer’s almost gone, and with it the last chance for me to pack for anything other than a larp, every odd weekend or so. Still, a summer gone means a summer of lessons learned – in drying stuff as well as packing it, this year.
It should probably be noted that packing and larp packing are, unfortunately, totally unrelated things. These are more of a… basic basics. There’s more where this came from – and I’m far from done writing about it.
So, here you go, the nuts and bolts of packing, the way it’s done in my pack. (Wait, wolf packs pack? Yeah, with pleasure!)
#1 Don’t panic! Panic makes packing a whole lot harder and messier than it should be. There’s no real need to do everything perfectly, except for the occasional trip to the Himalayas and the like – and if you’re going to the Himalayas, you’ll find plenty of good info online about specific packing requirements. (Don’t skip the part on physical prep.)
#2 Know your needs. I can’t tell you to bring an extra awesome 40 liter hiking backpack if you’re going on a weekend trip to your relatives, can I? No advice is universal, period. (Let me rephrase that – no advice. The most important thing is to adjust to your current traveling situation. Get at least a little bit of info – what’s the weather expected to be like, what your general activities will be etc. When packing for a familiar terrain – like the said weekend with relatives – use it to your advantage and experiment.
#3 Underpacking is underestimated. Overpacking is an urban myth – something bound to bring more pain than joy. My favourite trope will always stay the legendary “but what if the Queen invited me to breakfast?” If that happens (or, in your case, it may be The Doctor or whomever else you fancy), you’ll do what the rest of us mortals would do – go shopping!
#4 When filling the bag/s, think in 3D. You can even practice this, if you’re the planning type (like *khm* some of us). It’s true for packing small things (such as your socks) as well as huge ones (such as fitting larping gear for several poeple in the ever-too-small car). Put stuff into stuff. Surround stuff of fixed shape (be it rectangular or d20-ish) with random pieces of foldable stuff. Use the space, all of the space – there’s actually a lot more of it, once you start thinking outside the box. Think of it as Tetris – there’s always a hole somewhere, waiting to be filled with another piece. Just try to find it – and do trust me when I say it gets incredibly easier with time.
#5 Watch the weight. There are probably people out there whose general state of fit can handle anything. They’re out there, I’m sure of it. (I just haven’t met many of them, definitely not in myself nor the co-alpha.) The full weight intended to fall upon your shoulders is definitely something to think through, so you don’t end up, like me, taking 20+kg worth of luggage up a medieval cathedral spire in the middle of the summer. (I don’t want to talk about the spire. I don’t.)
#6 Do plan, at least a little bit. Know what you’re most probable to take out first and put in on the top. Use your luggage pockets, if there are any. (You don’t have to go as far as I do when shopping for backpacks and refuse to touch anything with under 4 pockets, but still – compartments and pockets help.) When packing clothes, go for layerability and interchangeable stuff – same with larping costumes, actually. Wait, maybe there’s more similarities than I’d originally thought…
#7 Lay out everything you want to carry on a flat surface, and then subtract as much as possible. Always subtract. It’s the one thing I make sure to never skip. It’s the one thing I’m sure always helps.
#8 Try other packing methods – and learn from other people’s experience. Ever heard of One Bag packing? Not sure what the hell rolling or bundle wrapping means? Why not google and try both out? Keep the stuff you like, don’t think twice about the ones you hate. Minimalist packing is not everyone’s cup of tea (even if it may be mine), but there’s a little bit to learn from almost anyone.
#9 Adjust and repeat! Sometimes I wonder if this packing hobby I’ve got going means that every opportunity to pack for a larp or a trip is just another excuse for me to try doing stuff better the next time around. Sometime it sure feels like it. Don’t sweat your mistakes – apart from the actual sweating, thanks to overpacking. There will always be a next time, and life is a lifelong lesson in learning to live. Why should packing be any different?