Packing for fly-ins is an acquired skill. Some never quite get it. But flying into remote outpost camps means that you can’t just bring everything but the kitchen sink. Resist bringing the mother-load. Here’s the down-and-dirty on what you really need.
Do your own laundry! Practise this: Next time you go on any kind of trip in the outdoors make note of every piece of clothing you wear and place it in a separate bag so that you can do your laundry when you get home. The learning point is in what you packed but didn’t wear. Usually people pack way more clothes than they actually need. You’ll be surprised at the un-worn pile. Next time leave that stuff behind. You don’t need a fresh pair of Dockers to wear down to dinner each night. Bring one set of clothes for knocking around at the cabin. All the rest of the clothing you bring should have an outdoor function. Leave your favourite cowboy pajamas at home too. Sleep in your skivvies like a soldier!
Dump the tackle box! Leave the honking big tackle box at home. Better yet, dump it out on the floor and carefully reorganize the contents. Put the tackle you know you’ll need in a small pile. Then re-organize that stuff into a small clear plastic container. You’ll need 1/4, 1/3 and 1/2 ounce jigs and plastic tails in a variety of colours – especially white, pink, and black. You’ll also need a few crank baits and lures for pike, along with some steel leaders. Other than that, leave the rest at home. Most tackle boxes rival a mechanics tool box and contain every lure and jig known to man – from sunfish to shark. Same can be said for fly fishing vests. You don’t need all that stuff. Leave the vest and all its accoutrements at home. Put the essentials into the pockets on a quick dry shirt and your breathable rain coat.
Four season wardrobe! Don’t skimp on rain gear and other layers for inclement weather. I was on a trip where I had to outfit four other people with rain gear and gloves. Fortunately this was something I anticipated. I learned my lesson many years ago in the north when it snowed on July 01. You have to be prepared for all four seasons. But this doesn’t mean bringing racks of parkas from Mountain Co-op. You need to layer your clothing in a thoughtful fashion. Start with polypropylene, or merino wool, underwear – including skivvies. No point in having all that wicking material with a pair of cotton gotchies underneath. Then wear a layer of fleece pants and top. I like wool pants for the fall. It is an amazing material that retains its warmth even when wet. You can go with a wool shirt covered by a fleece top if it’s really cold. Then cover up with a good three-in-one jacket that has a breathable, rainproof outer layer. Three-in-one jackets allow you to include the insulating layer – or not – depending on temperatures. Don’t forget hats, mitts, and gloves – including a pair of rubber or neoprene gloves for riding in the boat. These will keep your hands dry and break the wind while boating. And don’t forget rain pants and/or breathable waders. Nothing worse than a wet butt in the boat.
Multi-purpose packing! Leave the suede Samsonite at home too. Pack your stuff into good packsacks and duffles that double for use at the outpost. For example, I put my clothing into a waterproof packsack that I can use throughout the trip to keep my essential jackets and pants dry while boating. I also put my dry goods into a plastic container with a secure lid. I later use it in the boat to keep all my stuff together. Nothing worse than having your extra gloves or binoculars laying in an inch of water at the bottom of the boat.
Finally, think long and hard about the necessity of everything you pack. Rather than write a manuscript the size of Moby Dick, I will let you put your brains to work on sorting out all the rest. Make an essential list and include things like a First Aid Kit at the top. No one likes packing, but it does prime the pump for the exciting adventure you’re just about to undertake!