How to Pack for an Adventure

In four days I leave for a Utah adventure in Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. Now we will also feature a morning in Moab with Canyonlands and Arches! That’s right, the girl who has only ever visited one National Park is visiting five in one week now. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself!

Anton bought a checked bag, but I did not. No problem, he has a huge duffle bag for all our gear. Problem. I’m a girl. I packed like any girl would pack for an 8 day trip. A shirt for everyday, a few sweaters, a heavy fleece, three pairs of jeans, 8 pairs of socks, three pairs of shorts, a cute maxi dress, a waterproof windbreaker, hat, light gloves, and enough undergarments for every single day. In addition I packed shampoo, conditioner, soap, makeup, a giant container or sunscreen, bug spray, a small first aid kit, and five pairs of shoes. This is in addition to all of my necessary hiking gear, and camping gear. I showed up at Anton’s with my bag stuffed to the gills a couple days ago. My ways were quickly altered.


There is of course a 50 pound weight limit so some of my stuff had to go in order to accommodate important gear. This is what we looked at first. We eliminated my camping pot and went with Anton’s since it is smaller, but we kept my super awesome mess kit frying pans, sporks, and a couple collapsible cups. We also went with a backpacking stove so you know, we can actually cook. Both of our swiss army knives and another knife will also go in. We will use a pill organizer to pre-pack spices and be more economical while there. Anton is Russian however so we will take a large container of salt to keep him happy. A fun add on is Anton’s amazing collapsible camping coffee maker. Fresh coffee everyday! It’s lightweight and portable!

Next the sleeping situation. A lightweight three person backpacking tent + footprint…check. That’s of course a non-negotiable item. I brought up a super warm 2 person sleeping bag. We fought long and hard to get it to a manageable size, and were successful. We each had our thermarest mats to sleep on. Anton has a comfy camping pillow and I am borrowing his inflatable pillow to save on space. Likely going to pack a small pillow in my carry on just in case… A couple fun add ons! A two person hammock and nice southwestern blanket perfect for gazing at the night sky.

Other essential gear is next. Our trekking poles which were both missing tip protectors from our winter hiking adventures (just picked a couple sets up). Our hiking boots, which take up tons of space but we need them. My giant bottle of SPF 70 was immediately shot down. I was told to put some of it in a smaller container. If I run out then I can always buy more, we’re not that far from civilization. I have a nearly full bottle of bug spray so we opted to go with Anton’s less full bottle of bug spray to save on weight. It’s the desert, how many bugs are there? Probably not as many as New England in the summer. My shampoo/conditioner/soap was also shot down. Anton produced a small bottle of camp soap. I don’t mind putting that on my skin but it will not go in my hair. The moment I got home I packed a very little bit of shampoo in my carry on. Gaiters, backpack rain cover, camp towel…these were deemed acceptable.

I was reduced down to this…this is it for 8 days.

Now for the clothing, oh boy. I thought, yeah a few bras and underwear for each day of the week totally okay. Nope, I was soon told that I only needed two pairs of underwear and could stay in the same bra all week. No way. I agreed that I maybe didn’t need four sports bras and minimized to two. The one I wear on the plane I will keep clean for the flight back home so the person next to me doesn’t die. I was eventually convinced to minimize the underwear as well, promised that they could be washed if needed. I’m still grossed out at the thought of not having a pair for everyday, but thru hikers normally have just one pair for six months so it will be fine…I think? Three pairs of jeans were limited to one pair I would wear on the plane. My two pairs of leggings were fine, but I also was knocked down to one pair of hiking shorts. Now for the socks. My eight socks were divided in half. My winter clothes? I was reduced to my heavy polar fleece which will be worn on the plane, gloves, hat, a base layer, and fleece lined running tights. I eliminated the dress myself knowing the reaction I would get. The dress took up very little space though so I packed it in my carry on for any excursions we would go on in the town near Zion. There are some nice breweries and restaurants there! I took out all long sleeved shirts but one and half of my short sleeved shirts. Some things I wasn’t willing to negotiate on…a large stick of deodorant and my makeup. I was very minimalist with my makeup. Foundation, waterproof mascara, and concealer. No pictures will happen without it. In all honestly, if I was backpacking I wouldn’t bring it. I also minimized to one pair of hiking boots, hiking sandals, and a trash pair of sneakers for a river hike. Fun add ons…our bathing suits! It’s difficult for me to take this little clothing, but the “minimalist” packing has been a learning experience. And here we are clocking in at 45 lbs. A little more space if needed, and we have additions. We always have our carry-ons if worse comes to worse.