Travel Tips — Ten (Slightly Sarcastic) Steps to Pack Like a Mountain Man


Those friends who are close to Sean and I — and especially those who have been on expeditions with us — know how ridiculous our pre-expedition preparation is. Namely, packing. I (who have improved my packing habits GREATLY over the last four years) am typically nagged for weeks leading up to our departure by Sean about the importance of packing light. 

Last year, about this time, we were beginning to actualize our expeditions for the season. Post-Christmas holiday, we would board a plane for China and then Japan and needed to pack efficiently. I found this post Sean saved around that time and I wanted to share it with you guys today. Straight from the bearded mouth of Sean Busby — Ten (Slightly Sarcastic) Steps to Pack like a Mountain Man:

10) Socks. A multi-week expedition requires a number of these. We come from a generation of hunter gatherers, who have spent thousands of years on their feet. In expedition settings, we value our feet most of all — even above underwear that are clean of smears and septic foul. Fresh socks are still more important. For packing, socks should outnumber underwear by a 3:1 ratio. Example: A two week trip with fresh socks for every day means 14 socks, and 4-5 pairs of underwear. Seriously: No need for a fresh pair for every day. Keep it simple, and if you get desperate? Socks can work as underwear with a little creativity. 

9) Base layers & outerwear. These garments represent the front line in battling elements. They move sweat away and push foul odors into the layers of our fallen feathered friends. For men, the smells that take residence in our down jackets serve to alert others of our fearless attitude in the vertical world. Every man should have these odors if they do any sort of climbing. The smell is the ultimate “one upper” in a game of beating our chests, seeing how far we can shoot a stream of pee, and comparing collections of belly button lint from our sleeping bags. When packing base layers—the second level of defense—we can fit these pieces in a snowboard/ski bag by filling gaps and creating padding.  On the way home, they also provide a “TSA Surprise” for the airport’s Transportation Security Agency upon baggage inspection, with a complimentary punch of aroma. Surprise! In their scramble to muffle the stench, we surely won’t fall victim to thievery while traveling.

Yukon Expedition 2012

8) The hand-knit beanie. This item shows how much of a dirtbag you truly are.  Who doesn’t like a little attention, especially when you have been traveling for so long? The hand-knit beanie is also a great way for absorbing scalp grease from countless days spent climbing.  Its thick wool fibers massage the scalp and stretch around the forehead to provide an exfoliating treatment until your next shower (which is only a few weeks away).  The hand-knit beanie also acts as a humidifier for happy bacteria, creating your own head-heated stew. Leave the shampoo and conditioner at home! It’s 100% natural, organic!

7) The flask. This necessity calms the mind-games while working toward the summit. The mountain man settles into his flask at night to further dehydrate himself to lighten his load for the next day. Skip the tea bags that are squirreled away in your pack; a shot of whisky is plenty of comfort for you.

6) Beef Jerky. Look for small, compressed packages that are lightweight and easy to carry.  If you’re like my mountain woman, it’s time to learn that there’s no need for the bulk of packed almonds and home made trail mix. Beef jerky provides adequate fuel for the body on long days, while simultaneously fueling the body on long nights, acclimating tent-mates to close quarters with its unavoidable side-effect (flatulence). Stay away regular flavor—you want this protein to be laced with spicy additives to really spark things up.  Also, should your jerky get taken at customs—fear not!  Almost every country has some form of jerky. Support the local economy and invite unknown bacteria into your intestines so they can have a cultural experience on your climb, too. No need to be selfish—share the fun!

Not all sustenance is easy to find, especially when faced with Japanese vending machines:

Yukon Expedition 2012

Thus, when Jerky is not readily available, sometimes sandwiches are a must:

Yukon Expedition 2012

5) The sleeping pad. And you thought the Mountain Man lifestyle was hardcore all the time? Not quite! Living this lifestyle still comes with modern day creature comforts. The sleeping mat is a saliva-stained gem that doubles as a yoga mat. Go from zzzz’s to zen—2 for 1!

4) The coarse toothbrush. Like underwear, this guy has seen some shit! Brushing the teeth raw without or with a little water helps to fashion bristles into fine tooth pics. This not only creates a massaging effect, but it also helps prick out plaque. If you find a little bonus from last night’s dinner still stuck in the bristles, consider this extra calories to jump-start your day of climbing.  Also, blood is a good thing, It means your gums are appreciating their day at the spa.

Yukon Expedition 2012

3) Duct tape. Band-Aids, tent patches—you name it.  This is the Mountain Man’s sewing kit. Don’t pack an entire roll as this takes up too much room and weighs too much. Instead, wrap duct tape around all of your gear—waterbottles, poles, etc. This way, it will save you the hassle of having rustle through your pack during inconvenient times.  It also comes in a rainbow of colors and works great at backcountry toilet paper. So versatile—and a color for every personality!

2) The single pair of pants. The single pair of pants is best selected in a dark color and can be used to help dilute crowds in the modern world after being worn for days on end. This well-traveled pair hasn’t seen soap since two days prior to leaving home. The select pairs of underwear that you have been re-wearing help define The Pants and give them character. Ladies, leave that perfume back at home—you can finally customize your own fragrance, naturally!

Yukon Expedition 2012

1) Deodorant. The Mountain Man’s waterless backcountry soap.  Its presence is often overlooked until The Man realizes his fragrance (single pair of pants or otherwise) is not quite right. Take the deodorant and rub generously on the inner parts of clothing to give the desired strength. Common go-to places include the inner inseam on The Single Pair of Pants or the outer layers of your underwear.  During waterless showers, you will feel good—not only because you smell delicious—but because you are also saving the environment, one gallon of un-wasted water at a time. 

And that, Internet friends, is the man I decided to spend my life with, in a nutshell. Cheers to man-friend advice!

Yukon Expedition 2012

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