Gear checks are an essential element to every outdoor adventure. We at Idaho Adventure Education like to say that the trip starts at gear check; after completing the process, you should behave as though you are on the trail, on the bike, or on the snow. However, people–even experienced backpackers and trailblazers—don’t know how to properly and appropriately perform a gear check. In this post, we’re going to walk you through the entire process.
Start by laying out everything you will bring on your adventure. You must do this, even if you’ve already neatly arranged your pack. Spread every piece of equipment out on the floor so you can see it all at once. Then, take a picture with your phone. This will allow you to quickly reference the materials you bring. On longer backpacking and adventure trips, you may forget you brought something essential; this picture should serve as your pack’s “table of contents.”
Once you have your photograph, you can begin going through your equipment. Check to ensure that everything you have works. Test batteries, extend and retract hiking poles, check the bottom of your skis, and ensure that everything buckles, zips, and attaches properly. If you find an issue with any of your items, put fix it immediately; do not save it for the end of the gear check. This will allow you to remember every piece of gear. Countless adventurers save replacing headlamp batteries for the end of the check, then forget to pack the equipment at all. Tackle fixes as they arise.
Once you have addressed every piece of gear, begin to organize your pack. Arrange items in your pack according to weight and use; if you know you’ll need bug spray and a flashlight pretty quickly, leave them toward the top. Take time and care to pack every piece of equipment, and don’t be afraid to start over after a mistake. This is a crucial part of outdoor adventuring, and it can mean the difference between a safe and unsafe passage. Once you’re done, you’ll be ready to head out—or get a good night’s rest before the adventure begins.