How we organize and store our backcountry gear at home

General, Travel

There are two main reasons why it helps to neatly organize backcountry gear:

1) everything in its place and a place for everything makes it easier to find things and you “lose” things less often

2) unpacking completely and packing each time before an outing ensures full awareness of the gear on you, important discussions about choices to make, an opportunity to inspect things and better chance at weight management.

We move around a lot so our solution had to be portable and modular, nothing could be too heavy to lift or carry, and transparency and easy access was important. Here’s how it works.

The main building blocks of this system are the 6 plastic bins. We shopped around for the right size – these fit very well inside a closet, are shallow enough to make sure everything is visible, and roomy enough that hiking poles and ice axes can also fit it, along with sleeping bags and tents. It’s very hard to overload them, so anyone can carry them comfortably with two hands when moving.

All personal hiking stuff (layers, gloves, hats, sunscreen, gps etc) goes into one bin. All personal climbing stuff (helmet, prussiks, belays, pulleys) goes into the other. One bin contains all the group gear (tents, ropes etc) and the other contains food, meds etc (food backs, stove, blue bags, wipes etc).

The backpacks are always completely emptied, nothing in any pockets. And they are hung on the hooks, which frees up all the space above and below them for other storage.

The top shelf contains the snowshoes, hiking boots, climbing boots, shovels, ice axes.

Hanging in the middle are the various upper layers – fleece, soft shell, goretex shell, down jacket.

Before a trip, the bins all come out and are opened and then we pick what we need from each one based on the checklist.

Con: Drawers would be easier. But it would make it very hard to move. So it was a necessary compromise

What do you think?


Alpine Climbing Equipment

Feature, Uncategorized

Alpine Climbing Equipment

When going out into the backcountry, one has to be prepared for all kinds of weather. The goal is to read the weather and understand the conditions in advance and avoid running into a bad weather window to begin with. But it’s all a probability and everything helps in making sure you stay safe. Here’s the climbing gear between two climbers:

Starting from the bottom is the insulation pads to protect from the cold snow on which you sleep. The crampons attach to the climbing boots and provide traction in icy terrain. The helmets are a must to protect from rock-fall caused by other climbers or melting snow. These boots have a 3’4th shank of metal in the sole which is very useful for kicking steps in the snow and for getting strong levarage when trying to step on 1” ledges on rocks.

The best way to carry water in the cold, freezing conditions is these wide mouth ones. Easy to put fresh snow into as you sip from it. At night it also doubles up as a warm water bottle that you slip into your sleeping bag. The rope here is not the actual climbing rope we used – the purpose of rope in alpine climbing is also for traversing on glaciers and rescuing from crevasses. The ice-axe is the hiking stick, gives you support when going up, helps you arrest a fall when you slip, can be used as a quick belay, as a deadweight anchor etc. The gaiters are worn on the boots to prevent any snow from creeping into the feet. Climbing harness, carabiners, rescue pulley

Sleeping bags, down summit jacket, extra fleece layer – when in doubt, throw in an extra layer. Gloves, hats, mittens, redundancy is very useful. If you lose a glove, and that’s all you have, you will eventually lose your hand or have to turn around. Tent, tent poles and tent snow stakes. All 3. If you forget one, you are screwed. We learned it a very very hard way.

We carry a fancy GPS, but also carry old school compass and maps. Sophisticated technology is more likely to fail. Redundancy, and proficiency helps.

Glacier glasses. When you are exposed to bright snow for 16hours, your eyes get fried. It can take a day or two to be able to use them again. Glacier glasses are a must. They prevent light from entering from anywhere. On that note, you have to protect even the inside of your nostrils from the sun. Anything exposed to light will get sunburned and it’s painful.

Pickets to create quick anchors when you end up in tricky spots or to rescue someone. A quick showel to create a platform for the tent, or to dig out a teammate from an avalanche (can’t really joke about this).

Stove, firestarter, fuel. Duct tape. Be safe.