Way back in the dark ages, in the time before the iPhone, in the time before the Interwebs, we had to make do with old technology. As time passed and technology has evolved so have our options for handling information. This has definitely been the evolution of my own camping checklist.
As a young man I would just shoot from the hip when trying to gather and organize my gear. I was always forgetting one thing or another. It was kind of silly really. Call it the hubris of youth…I figured my memory was better than it was. At some point I found The Checklist book. The book was remarkably useful for me. Inside the book there were lists of gear and supplies for camping. On the left side were two columns of spaces for checkboxes, “need” and “have”. Over the two columns was some clear plastic on which you can make check marks with a dry-erase marker. It was easy to wipe off the plastic and reset to plan for each adventure.
The book was my hero for organization! I could plan ahead and, more importantly, remember to bring everything I intended to bring. No more hiking without my favorite cashew/M&M trail mix!
I used and loved the book for a number of years. Truly it was great for me. But technology evolved and I went along with it. The checklist migrated into Excel. It’s easy to use Excel as a sort of database. For me, the digital checklist had a few advantages over the old paper version because I could start keeping track of more information:
- The weight of each item (aiming for ultralight!)
- Where I kept each item
- Filtering (show only things I plan to bring)
- Separate sheets for each adventure (copy and reuse)
The spreadsheet is really pretty good. You can download it from the link and use it yourself. Copy it, share it, improve it, whatever. Update the quantities in column E and use the Plan to bring? and Packed? columns to indicate whether you’ll bring and whether you have packed any of the items. As you make the changes the spreadsheet updates the Total Weight of All Gear in K9 through L10. To me it has been a living spreadsheet that has helped me make tough decisions about what to bring and what to live behind. You can see what you the weight of what you’re planning to bring and for me that can be enough to scare me into some more rational choices. It’s not always a good idea to bring along your cast iron Dutch oven and spice rack. Sometimes you just need to be able to see what you’re doing to yourself when you pack it all up!
So take a look at the spreadsheet. Hopefully it’s helpful to you. If you feel like you want a more technologically advanced solution then you might check out the Backpacker Checklist iOS app.