Bushwalking Workflow | Repacking the Next Morning

How long does it take to pack in the morning? Do you vary your packing procedure if it’s wet? What if there is a frost or dew on your tent or it has rained overnight? How can you save time in the morning? Do you organise yourself before going to sleep?

How long should you take to repack in the morning?

The time taken depends on a number of factors such as:

  • How much you unpacked the night before?
  • Whether you partially repacked before going to sleep?
  • Whether you will be having a hot breakfast and whether you will need to cook breakfast or just heat some water for a hot drink?
  • Has it rained or snowed and if so, do you have a wet tent?
  • Which clothes did you sleep in overnight?

Most people can cook a breakfast, make a hot drink, attend to personal hygiene and fully repack in a leisurely 90 minutes. With a little pre-planning, this can be reduced to 45 minutes and if needed, cut back to 30 minutes by saving a few tasks for later in the morning.

Partially packing before you go to sleep

Usually there is plenty of time to begin packing, after your evening meal and  before you go to sleep. There is also time to complete tasks that don’t need to wait until the morning.

Simple tasks that can be done before you go to sleep include:

  • prepare your change of clothing for the morning and perhaps put them on before climbing into your sleeping bag.
  • store away you dirty and wet clothing unless you are going to put it back on, which is often the most sensible.
  • get out the new day’s meals and store in the lid of your pack.
  • refill your water bottle
  • bandage any blisters and tend to any injuries
  • read your route plan and make any modifications needed as a result of the day’s activities
  • if you are having a hot drink, pre-fill the billy/pan with the exact amount needed, add your tea bag to your cup along with the sugar and powdered milk. Find your lighter and grippers and place next to your cup.
  • pre-soak your muesli/porridge so it is easier to digest in the morning
  • write up your journal/diary or upload your blog if you have phone reception
  • replace the batteries of any items if needed
  • place items such as sleeping bag covers, tent stuff bags in readily accessible pockets of your tent where you can easily find them, and use the same pockets each time.
  • minimise the amount of clothing you will need to change in the morning, by carefully selecting what you will  wear in your sleeping bag.
  • place as many items as you can back into the correct pockets of your backpack. If you have room, and its likely to be wet, pull your backpack into the tent with you and then it is a simple task to fully repack before you emerge from your tent.

While not part of the pre-packing routine, place items you might need during the night such as a torch, watch and water in the same place each night, where you can find them while still half asleep. 

Waking in the morning

Unless you enjoy rising early to see the sun, stop in your sleeping bag as long as possible and pack around yourself in your tent:

  • pull your shirt over you thermals, 
  • put on your jacket
  • roll up any items that you can or place them back in their stuff sacs.

Only when all the items around you have been packed should you get out of your sleeping bag and stuff it into its compression sac, and then complete the dressing process, which will depend on the expected temperature:

  • thermal long-johns if you didn’t already have them on
  • put on your shorts or long trousers
  • then you waterproof over-pants and waterproof jacket if needed

Now is the time to let down your air mattress and roll it up tightly. Collect all items inside your tent and stack them inside as close to the entrance as possible. Check all tent pockets to make sure your torch or compass have not been forgotten.

Now its time to put on your boots and exit the tent. If its not raining and your tent is dry, this is the time to place all the items you have already packed inside your tent on a dry surface (eg your gaiters) ready for packing in the pre-determined sequence inside your pack.


Breakfast should be cooking, while you continue packing. Get you stove operating as soon as you get out of your tent and don’t stand waiting for the water to boil. If it is particularly wet, your wet weather breakfast of a few muesli/breakfast bars should be eaten before you get out of your tent and you will need probably want to forgo the hot drink.

A more flexible alternative is to fill a “thermos” with hot water at dinner time and place it in your sleeping bag overnight. If you carefully choose your breakfast eg muesli or porridge then there is no need to light your stove and your breakfast can be eaten inside your tent, with no threat from the weather. This will also save you at least 15 minutes of stove starting and packing time.

Repacking the contents of your pack

The overriding sequence that should be followed is to pack those items that should be taken out of your pack last eg sleeping bag, at the bottom. It is not quite that simple however, as weight distribution also places a role, with heavier items placed close to the body and higher in your pack. Items you will need during the day should be placed in readily accessible pockets, the lid of your pack or perhaps just below the lid if the item is bulky eg rain jacket or fleece.

See also: Packing for a Bushwalk

Packing your tent.

When you start packing away your tent depends on the weather and whether your tent is already wet.

If there is a sunny break between showers, take the opportunity to get your tent packed away as quickly as you can, so the inside of your pack does not get wet while it is open. I usually roll mine in the mini-tarp (eg emergency space blanket) I have under my tent, brushing the surface clean between each roll.

If it has rained during the night, or there has been a heavy dew, then you may want to leave your tent up until the last possible moment to try to get it dry before packing. Don’t forget to shake it, before taking out the poles, so you can get rid off excess droplets on the outside.

Your tent goes into your pack last, as it will be the first thing you will want to take out of your pack when reaching your next campsite.

Saving an extra few minutes

  • Choose a breakfast that can be eaten while you are walking.
  • Put on your gaiters at your first stop
  • Save your morning ablutions until you find a rest break near water.
  • Rehydrate before getting out of your tent, so you don’t need to brew a hot drink.
  • Have all you gear in individual stuff sacs which can be thrown into your pack with less care than if they needed to be packed separately.
  • Put on your sunscreen as you walk.

Creative Commons License
This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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