Kirsty Andrews ponders the art of packing for a big dive trip.

I have a big trip coming up. And when I say coming up, I mean, I’m leaving tomorrow. The excitement! Now, to pack. The process did start a little while ago: I made a list. Not a sensible ‘list of everything to pack’ list, but a ‘to do’ list at least. Sensible things like ‘I should really locate the source of my drysuit dampness’ or ‘are my cylinders still O2 clean’? By today, things are either done or in a state of ‘oh well’, such as the drysuit. I’m bringing an extra set of thermals anyway, to mitigate the dampness (something else to pack). 

Other than the list, not much has yet been done. I’m not one of those who can sensibly put kit aside for days and weeks beforehand. Oh no. I have to be in the moment, with the heightened tension of an imminent leave date and time to motivate me. Still, this is not my first packing rodeo so no need for a frenzy yet.

Do you have packing champions in your club?

A system is key to success here. At one point I did actually have a spreadsheet, and that was quite satisfying but I fear I may have outgrown it. There are significant packing variables such as: warm or cold-water trip, boat diving more-techy-type-stuff or shore diving keep-it-simple-and-lightweight. Then there’s non-diving considerations: am I camping or staying somewhere fancy (unlikely but still possible); is this a full-on camera geekery indulgence trip (yes it is, hurrah, get charging 50 batteries and polishing scratches from dome ports) or am I going minimalist on the camera front (my version of minimalist on this point is not the same as yours, probably). Am I travelling in my own vehicle (chuck everything in) or burdening another’s? Will I be far from civilization and need to take a lot of redundancies just in case? There’s definitely a level of spares-taking which is prudent and a level which is ‘you might as well just bring an extra person and have done with it’.

At the height of a diving summer my kit barely has time to dry out or be put away; a tad unsightly for visitors but handy for packing, at least. This time it’s been a while and everything had been stashed. I do look enviously at those with voluminous garages, outbuildings and other worthy kit stores: mine is secreted in various hidey-holes in my non-palatial accommodations, which makes reconstruction of the necessary items at packing time more complicated. 

Do you have packing champions in your club? There are certainly those who seem to call all the required items to hand effortlessly. There’s always one reliable teammate (thank goodness) who has thought to include the spare tool / item / ingredient that no-one else thought of but has suddenly become essential. I aspire to be that person one day. And a team-based approach is sensible, or you could end up between you with six adjustable spanners and no bungee - perish the thought. Although that level of coordination does require fore-planning so, maybe next trip.

I should probably start packing now. Or I could procrastinate by doing other things, such as, writing a diving column about packing… 

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