Why Use a Go Box?

In an effort to help Scouts and adult backpackers better prepare, I explain the importance of a Go Box.

A Case for the Go Box

Even with the aid of a checklist, I found myself still having to rummage through the house, attic, basement and garage for my equipment. That takes time and a lot of mental effort. So to remedy the problem, our family each has a personal, backpacking Go Box.

Our Go Boxes each have all the equipment we might need for either an overnight, a weekend or longer trip. So when it’s time to pack, I don’t worry about where I left my trail runners, wind shirt, or spoon–its all in one box and ready to go.

Food is the exception; although we still keep a bag of Clif Bars and a bag of basic hot drinks. We actually have a Go Box for our food as well.

Our boxes are big enough (12-Gallons) to fit everything we need to “go,” including our backpacks, trekking poles and shoes, except for our sleeping bags, which are stored in large duffel bags next to our boxes.

JTP-GoBox-9We don’t bring everything in the box, only what we need for that particular trip. If I am going solo, or fending for myself in a group, I have a slightly smaller, one-person kit. If my wife and I are going together, we bring a larger shelter, a slightly larger pot for heating water and a higher-volume fuel bottle for our stove.

Having a Go Box to collect all my essentials also gives me peace of mind at the trail head. I no longer have to worry what I may have left behind while departing.


Last-minute packing is a recipe for failure; it encourages taking too much or not enough.

Another benefit of the Go Box is keeping my backpacking gear at home separate from car-camping and/or hiking gear. I can count on every piece of my kit being ready for action.

We bought six of the nesting, 12-gallon plastic storage containers for under $10 each.

First, Get Organized

Having the right equipment is one thing, remembering to bring it is another….

I can’t stress enough the importance of a checklist. As a pilot, I never left the runway without first going through every point of a checklist, regardless of how well I thought I had it memorized.

I follow the same procedures with backpacking; I have a full-page checklist, detailing my equipment categories and sub categories. The checklist is used during packing.

I also have a “Quick List,” the size of a credit card, attached to the interior of myQuickList backpack with just the major categories. The Quick List is for the last-minute checks at the trail head.

I am–by most accounts–a weekend warrior. As much as I would love to do a long trail, my schedule and family responsibilities do not allow the luxury of taking a few months off of work. Instead, I average two overnight or weekend backpacks a month. That’s a lot of packing and unpacking. Some of my trips are last-minute, meaning that I have less than a hour to pack and hit the trail.

So, if you find yourself stressed over gathering your equipment before each trip, try using a go box. It is a simple and thrifty solution to lost or misplaced gear.

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