Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Daily Bag - Newest wrinkle in our Pacific Crest Trail resupply plan

We are in our annual throes of packing and shipping off resupply food for our PCT hike. This is something I put off and put off, finally having a spending frenzy, getting all the materials, and sorting it out by days for each segment. I wrote about the resupply process last year.

In the past we have always had a breakfast bag with all the breakfasts for the segment, a lunch bag, and a supper bag. We have three UrSacks (bear bags of bulletproof and hopefully bearproof material), labeled B L and D. For a normal 6 or 7 day segment, we can get all our food in those three bags.

However, there is a lot of counting and measuring involved. Invariably we find some day or some segment where I have miscounted. Either I have been carrying more food than needed, or we end up going on lean rations for some segment. Usually one of each. So, we have stolen the daily bag concept from Ken and Marcia Powers. This year I have a bag for each day with everything for that day. It is much easier to  manage, since every bag is basically the same. The old way there would be an 8 day bag, a 5 day, etc so easy to  miscount. These are special odorproof bags, so even if I can't get them all into the UrSacks, we shouldn't have a problem with bears or rodents.

A typical daily bag might have for two people, 2 foil poptart packages, 2 snack bars, 2 packages of those little peanut butter or cheese cracker sandwiches, one electrolyte packet, one freeze dried dinner, two 1/2 ounce snack ziplocks of gorp (raisins, nuts, m&ms),4 packets of instant oatmeal (two each), two tea bags, two one ounce freeze dried packets of fruit (eaten as is), 1 oz jerky, dried milk (enough for 1 cup), instant coffee for one serving, vitamins glucosamine omega-3 occuvite. There are also spare Steripen batteries.

Our back bedroom is a scene of confusion. I can't completely package everything here. To get everything into our packs, we have to repackage the freeze dried meals and the jerky into ziplocks. The original packaging is just too bulky. Things such as jerky and freeze dried meals will spoil if left open for a week or two, so, we ship off the original packages, with ziplocks for repackaging when we pick up the resupply box. I print out maps for the trip, and they go in the resupply box along with the appropriate guide book pages, to avoid carrying them before needed.

Once everything is packed, then the first box has got to get off. Since they have the metal propane fuel containers, they have to go by ground transport only, and the post office has special labeling requirements. Frequently, the postal clerk has never heard of shipping fuel, and there is a big flurry of consultation with other clerks and supervisors, so I carry a reference to the postal regulations when I do my mailings.

Anyhow, I have great hopes that the daily bag will prevent any stressful surprises on the trail.


  1. Ralph's too modest--we have never really been on very lean portions. This is a huge undertaking and it's amazing how well he manages it, but I do think the Powers' system of daily bags makes a lot of sense.

  2. Ralph, all this time you've made nice comments on my blog, and I didn't even know YOU have one! Nice work. Why don't you post up some links on Facebook? This is good stuff! Thanks for your note on my Integraton piece. It was an interesting day.

  3. I've moved to the one bag a day system as well. Much easier to keep track of in the ursack. Keep up the writing!