Top 10 Last Minute Packing Tips from an Outdoor Expedition Leader

Does the idea of packing for your next trip make you feel like a lactose intolerant kid perusing the options at Baskin Robbins?

Are you the type to pack and unpack, over and over, mulling over every little detail or weighty ounce?

Too many choices, and they are all going to make your stomach hurt.

Fear not fellow adventurers, by now you probably have a pretty good idea of what to bring, but No Barriers’ Expedition Leader, Program Manager and local pre-trip planning expert, Nick Colgin wants to share his tried and true Top 10 list of what to leave at home:


1.  A Watermelon. In Gallagher-esque fashion, we have had past participants bring a watermelon on an expedition with us. In a world where ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain, a watermelon equals lots of pain. So while it may make an amazing summit snack, it makes for a lot of sweat equity on the side of a mountain.

2.  Hatchet. Multiple past participants have come equipped with knives, multi tools, and even once, a hatchet! Not sure if it was to ward off the zombie apocalypse, or to chop invisible trees down at 13,000 feet, but it did make for an epic summit picture.

3.  Bayonet. When I served in Afghanistan, we never had to utilize bayonets, and fortunately, I haven’t had to use them on the side of a mountain. We actually have had multiple participants think otherwise though. They were mistaken.

4.  Cell Phone. Being in nature is all about being present. If you feel the need to talk to your spouse, talk to your new battle buddy instead. If you feel the need to text a buddy, write in your journal instead. If you feel the need to listen to music, listen to the birds. Use the nature service plan on your No Barriers Warriors trip.

5.  More Oatmeal. I have three major dislikes in this world, and I think they are each a flavor of oatmeal. You will eat LOTS of oatmeal. Please do not bring any extra.

6.  Bad Attitude. You can’t enjoy nature if you can’t enjoy yourself or your team. Come into your experience with optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement. You have a chance to be part of a team again and to climb some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Smile!

7.  Cotton. The mountains can be wet and smelly. You don’t want your clothes to be too. We outfit our participants with some of the best gear in the world. You earned it by paying your dues in the military. So leave the cotton at home. We don’t want to see your new One Direction shirt on the mountain with us. We want to see you happy and comfortable instead.

8.  Multiple Hardcover Books. We are going to fill your days with so much inspiration and excitement, that you will barely have time to read one book, let alone multiple. If you must bring a book, make it one paperback, and something you can pass around.

9.  A Closed Mind. We are going to throw a lot at you. Adversity, inspiration, teamwork. Be open to it. I know you have been doing things one way for years. Try our way. I promise, you won’t regret it or forget it.

10.  Fear. Fear is a choice. Choose not to be fearful when you are on the mountain with us. Do not be afraid of the change that may come. Do not fear becoming part of a new family. Just do not fear, because what is inside of you is stronger than what is in your way.