Breaking Camp

This  page is about breaking camp efficiently and getting on the water quickly.

Realize that this assumes you want to do this. If you have your trip scheduled so that you can sleep in, walk around yawning and scratching, drink several pots of coffee and eat bacon and eggs for breakfast ... please disregard this information.

We do occasionally plan trips like this, with a relaxed schedule. On the other hand, we sometimes paddle on trips where it is important to get our distance done so that we are off the water in time to get set up and organized before dark.

Morning is not always an easy time to motivate people to tear down and pack their equipment. People are often tired, and have sore muscles from the previous day's paddling.. We are also probably dealing with all types of personalities, ranging from the person that showers, has a quick cup of coffee and is out the door to the person who reads the entire Globe and Mail in the bathroom before they even think of breakfast in the morning. The last thing this type of person feels like doing is taking down and packing a wet tent first thing in the morning.

That being the case, it is best to have some sort of organized routine. If not, you will find yourself getting on the water about noon every day. How can we get on the water quickly?

  • Agree to a wake-up time then roust everyone out of the sack at that time. Although it sounds ridiculously simple, this is one of the best ways to get on the water on time. If everyone straggles out of bed over the course of an hour, we're going to be losing all kinds of time.
  • Get some of the organizing done the night before. Anything which isn't going to be needed can be pre-packed so that it isn't part of the morning duties. We're probably not going to light a fire in the morning, so the saw and the axe may as well get packed at night.
  • Have breakfast organized. Fill the coffee pot with water and the stove with fuel the night before. Make sure the breakfast food is packaged separately so that it can be found quickly. Pre-package coffee into proper sized portions so that it can just be dumped into the pot.
  • Pack the gear from your tent right away ... before breakfast! It isn't a very appealing job to start to roll up Thermarest mattresses and pack away clothes, but trust me ... it won't be any more appealing after breakfast. Besides, standing around watching the coffee pot won't make it boil any faster ... we might as well be doing something useful.
  • Forget about rolling tents and sleeping bags neatly. They call them stuff-sacks for a reason. Just take the tents and sleeping bags and stuff them into those bags. They won't take up any more room, and the process will take half as long. I've also heard that this is better for tents and sleeping bags than continually folding them along the same line to roll them up. The process of always folding on the same seam or line causes wear.
  • Don't worry about drying tents. It's much more efficient to stuff them away wet and let them dry in the afternoon when the sun is out. The damp morning hours aren't the best conditions for tent-drying. If it's raining in the afternoon, big deal ... even our nicely dried tents would have been wet as soon as we set them up.