Packing for holidays – kitchen sink to be included?

So one of the fun parts of an expedition is the final packing, when you try to figure out if you have everything on the list, and whether it will all fit into the bags. It can be considered an optimisation problem where you have to trade-off weight/cost/flexibility. 

Usually, option value wins, so you bring everything that you have, with tons of spares, which you can leave behind if you want. This is a picture of my current pack-out. Space in London being at a premium, I’m doing it in my room, which is not ideal. 


Every packing is different, because the whole philosophy behind the trip is different – in polar expeditions, volume is cheap, and weight is relatively cheap, meaning that it is easy to carry bulky things. That is certainly not true for climbing for example, where both weight and volume have to be minimised for efficiency.

Compare that to this one for one of my adventure races – when you have to do multiple evolutions in a couple of days, you bring bike plus all the spares (8 spare tubes in this instance), kayak gear (paddles and life vests), running gear, climbing gear etc, plus food and night equipment – you have to be pretty methodical about it, and make sure the checklist is complete. 


As my Himalaya climbing trip went, any single missing or broken item could cause a cascade of problems so it was critical to be spot-on with everything. E.g. missing lip balm mean that lips would crack, so you eat more slowly/eat less, which would lead to you getting weaker = not summitting. With the end-point of every equation being a reduced chances of success, it pretty much meant that you would be very much disciplined to do everything it took to succeed.

On this expedition, just the gloves I’m bringing include

  • 2 pairs of liners,
  • 2 pairs of fleece,
  • 1 pair thick ski working gloves,
  • 1 pair down summit mitts,
  • 1 pair super overmitts. 

So next time your partner complains about over-packing, remind them that the success of the holiday is at stake, and increased option value is the only way to do successful risk mitigation!


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One Response to Packing for holidays – kitchen sink to be included?

  1. Louise says:

    your poor flatmate! ;op

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