Planning for Unplanned Hikes

GORUCK GR1 for hiking

Do you ever get the sudden urge to just hit the trail and get going? No planning or gear gathering, just get up and go because the weather is nice and you ‘need’ to get outside. I do, more than you’d know.

GORUCK GR1 packed and ready to go!

To be able to do this at a minute’s notice, I keep a rucksack that is already packed with the bare minimal amount of gear I need to get out on a hike, ready and waiting by the back door. It’s not a bail out bag, it’s a get out and hike bag! Lately it’s been my GORUCK GR1 because I am totally digging this ruck even though it’s not lightweight. A GR1 review is coming for all of you that have asked :)

GORUCK GR1 urban backpacking

Here’s what I keep in my GR1 rucksack, ready to go:

  • Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20˚ bag
  • GG SpinnTwinn Tarp + Ti stakes
  • MLD Bug Bivy
  • Backcountry Boiler
  • First aid kit + water treatment
  • Socks | WrightSock Coolmesh II
  • Patagonia Capilene2 | Baselayer
  • Golite Dakota Wind Shirt
  • Montbell UL Down Parka
  • Food for two days
  • Fallkniven F1 knife
  • Water bottle, spork, Kupilka cup

GORUCK inner pockets

It’s a pretty basic and simple set of gear for sure, but it’s enough for me to be all set for a 2-3 day hike if I really feel the need to grab-and-go. And that’s exactly what I am going to do right now after posting this!

GORUCK - Coco looking less than impressed

It’s felt like a very long week this week and my office buddy/trail partner, Coco the chocolate lab, is as eager as I am to get outside and hit the trails. I hope you all have a great weekend and think about the benefits of having a pre-packed rucksack near your backdoor so that you’re ready to go when the urge hits – you won’t regret it. Cya! ~Brian

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  • Dambara

    YESssss!  :)  Thanks for the push.

  • Dambara

    YESssss!  :)  Thanks for the push.

  • Great idea Brian!  I feel like I’m always 10 minutes away from pulling the trigger on a hike, but I’ve never considered a go bag.  I think now I should.  Have a great time on the trail.

    • Do it Tim! Half the battle of getting going is packing the back and getting ready. You can solve one of those really easily by having a pack ready to go :) I double-dog dare you!

  • Great idea Bryan!  I feel like I’m always 10 minutes away from pulling the trigger on a hike, but I’ve never considered a go bag.  I think now I should.  Have a great time on the trail.

  • ive been setting one with my backup gear and leave it in the car

    • I’ve thought about doing it that way too, but for some reason I see it more often if it’s left at my backdoor. I like the fact that it’s staring me in the fact all the time saying “take me!”

  • ive been setting one with my backup gear and leave it in the car

  • Ryan Wheeler

    Eeeeek, you keep your UltraLite compressed and stashed in the pack as a “just in case” thing? That’s the only thing about the set-up that concerns me. 

    I have a to-go bag filled with my slacklining gear, and mostly a backpacking bag as well, except the sleeping bag and my Marmot Zeus down jacket are out and uncompressed.

    I’m gonna satisfy my itch to use it and go out and slackline now…

    Happy trails!

    • I was literally almost out the door when I read this ;) Yes I keep it stuffed and ready to go, but don’t panic. I prep my to-go rucksack on Wednesday or Thursday so if the weekend forecast looks good (or it’s been a hellish week) I am all set on friday after work to just go!

      For the rest of the week and if I don’t go out for a weekend, I simply put the WM Ultralite (and my Montbell Jacket) back in their lofty sacks and throw them in my closet so that they don’t stay compacted – I’m not a complete goon ya know ;)

      Bye! For real this time…

  • Ryan Wheeler

    Eeeeek, you keep your UltraLite compressed and stashed in the pack as a “just in case” thing? That’s the only thing about the set-up that concerns me. 

    I have a to-go bag filled with my slacklining gear, and mostly a backpacking bag as well, except the sleeping bag and my Marmot Zeus down jacket are out and uncompressed.

    I’m gonna satisfy my itch to use it and go out and slackline now…

    Happy trails!

  • My approach is to have all the gear within reach on my gear bench. The only exceptions are my down bag(stored properly in closet), food (a designated shelf in pantry), and the clothes I will be wearing. I can pack in 15 minutes.

  • I was literally almost out the door when I read this ;) Yes I keep it stuffed and ready to go, but don’t panic. I prep my to-go back on Wednesday or Thursday so if the weekend forecast looks god (or it’s been a hellish week) I am all set on friday after work to just go!

    For the rest of the week and if I don’t go out for a weekend, I simply put the WM Ultralite (and my Montbell Jacket) back in their lofty sacks and throw them in my closet so that they don’t stay compacted – I’m not a complete goon ya know ;)

    Bye! For real this time…

  • So the Dog is carrying the Beer right?  hehehe

    • Close! She carries her toys (tennis ball and chewy bone) all all of her own food for the trip! She’s carrying a couple of pounds of her own gear probably, but let me tell you when she sees her little backpack coming out of my closet she gets so excited :)

  • So the Dog is carrying the Beer right?  hehehe

  • Guest

    No food?

    • Maria? Yes I took food, I even listed it as ‘food for two days’ – mostly dried food that I rehydrated and some snack bars. I don’t live off the land like Bear Grylls :)

  • Guest

    No food?

  • Brian, I do the same thing!  This way I have no excuse not to get out and go see the mountains.  I don’t keep my bag compressed or my down jacket but everything else is always ready to go at a moments notice.  Great idea.  You do need a little food in there though.  Have fun hiking man!!

    • Thanks BVDD. As I said above to Ryan, prep my to-go rucksack on Wednesday or Thursday so if the weekend forecast looks good (or it’s been a hellish week) I am all set on friday after work to just go. For the rest of the week or if I don’t go out for a weekend, I simply put my sleeping bag and down jacket back in their lofty sacks and throw them in my closet. Thanks for your comment and thanks too for being such a regular contributor – means a lot to me!

  • Brian, I do the same thing!  This way I have no excuse not to get out and go see the mountains.  I don’t keep my bag compressed or my down jacket but everything else is always ready to go at a moments notice.  Great idea.  You do need a little food in there though.  Have fun hiking man!!

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  • Yes I took food, I even listed it as ‘food for two days’ – mostly dried food that I rehydrated and some snack bars. I don’t live off the land like Bear Grylls :)

  • Thanks BVDD. As I said above to Ryan, prep my to-go rucksack on Wednesday or Thursday so if the weekend forecast looks good (or it’s been a hellish week) I am all set on friday after work to just go. For the rest of the week or if I don’t go out for a weekend, I simply put my sleeping bag and down jacket back in their lofty sacks and throw them in my closet. Thanks for your comment and thanks too for being such a regular contributor – means a lot to me!

  • Close! She carries her toys (tennis ball and chewy bone) all all of her own food for the trip! She’s carrying a couple of pounds of her own gear probably, but let me tell you when she sees her little backpack coming out of my closet she gets so excited :)

  • I’ve thought about doing it that way too, but for some reason I see it more often if it’s left at my backdoor. I like the fact that it’s staring me in the fact all the time saying “take me!”

  • Do it Tim! Half the battle of getting going is packing the back and getting ready. You can solve one of those really easily by having a pack ready to go :) I double-dog dare you!

  • Pretty cool idea. Now it’s time for the “Why didn’t I think of that before?” Now to go customize my own “ready-to-go-anytime” pack.

    • It’s not a race and you probably have thought of it before but never gotten round to actually making it happen. Hopefully this will be the ‘nudge’ you need :)

    • I’m definitely not the first to think of it, but wanted to share the idea for those that are not taking advantage of the freedom it offers. So, do you have one ready now?

  • Pretty cool idea. Now it’s time for the “Why didn’t I think of that before?” Now to go customize my own “ready-to-go-anytime” pack.

  • It’s not a race and you probably have thought of it before but never gotten round to actually making it happen. Hopefully this will be the ‘nudge’ you need :)

  • Great post Brian! I love the idea of having a “go bag” packed and ready at all times, you never know when you might need to split in a hurry. It also just eliminates the excuses that we sometimes use on ourselves to be lazy instead of just getting off the couch and getting out there! I believe I will go and re pack mine now, maybe I will get out tomorrow!

  • Great post Brian! I love the idea of having a “go bag” packed and ready at all times, you never know when you might need to split in a hurry. It also just eliminates the excuses that we sometimes use on ourselves to be lazy instead of just getting off the couch and getting out there! I believe I will go and re pack mine now, maybe I will get out tomorrow!

    • The second reason you mention is why I have it ready. If I’m all set at any time (excluding food) then it takes almost no time or effort to grab it and go – I can’t blame anything else.

      I’ve found that I’ve gone on so many more overnighters this way, by having the rucksack ready, than I had by ‘planning’ them in advance – and they’ve been more enjoyable because I’ve gotten away from it all including the planning part :)

  • Bill Latham

    Quick question, map, compass, headlamp, basicaly the ten essentials?

    • B-U-S-T-E-D! Ok, so you caught me. My dirtly little secret is that sometimes I don’t always carry everything we’re supposed to. When I go on short overnight hikes or to places where I know the lay of the land very well from prior experience, I leave some of the ‘essentials’ at home.

      There, you’ve publicly shamed me – does that feel better? j/k :)

      • Bill Latham

         Actually I just thought you didn’t list them.

  • Bill Latham

    Quick question, map, compass, headlamp, basicaly the ten essentials?

  • B-U-S-T-E-D! Ok, so you caught me. My dirtly little secret is that sometimes I don’t always carry everything we’re supposed to. When I go on short overnight hikes or to places where I know the lay of the land very well from prior experience, I leave some of the ‘essentials’ at home.

    There, you’ve publicly shamed me – does that feel better? j/k :)

  • TS

    How much does it weigh? 

    • Believe it or not, I’ve never weighed my to-go ruck! The GR1 rucksack on its own weighs 3lb 3oz and if I had to guesstimate what my pack weight was (and I’m pretty good at the by now) I’d say it was in the low 20lb region.

      It’s not the lightest weight pack that I own, but it’s a no-nonsense get-the-job-done pack and just love using it.

      I’ll weigh my to-go ruck soon and see how close my estimate was.

  • TS

    How much does it weigh? 

  • Believe it or not, I’ve never weighed my to-go ruck! The GR1 rucksack on its own weighs 3lb 3oz and if I had to guesstimate what my pack weight was (and I’m pretty good at the by now) I’d say it was in the low 20lb region.

    It’s not the lightest weight pack that I own, but it’s a no-nonsense get-the-job-done pack and just love using it.

    I’ll weigh my to-go ruck soon and see how close my estimate was.

  • The second reason you mention is why I have it ready. If I’m all set at any time (excluding food) then it takes almost no time or effort to grab it and go – I can’t blame anything else.

    I’ve found that I’ve gone on so many more overnighters this way, by having the rucksack ready, than I had by ‘planning’ them in advance – and they’ve been more enjoyable because I’ve gotten away from it all including the planning part :)

  • I’m definitely not the first to think of it, but wanted to share the idea for those that are not taking advantage of the freedom it offers. So, do you have one ready now?

  • Bill Latham

     Actually I just thought you didn’t list them.

  • Nice post and great idea. I also like to take a similar minimal kit with me even on long day hikes or mountain bike rides -Just in case I need to (Or want to) stay overnight unplanned.

  • Nice post and great idea. I also like to take a similar minimal kit with me even on long day hikes or mountain bike rides -Just in case I need to (Or want to) stay overnight unplanned.

  • ConnieD

    I keep a lightweight pack in my vehicle.
    If I see a pretty spot and it is public land and I can get my vehicle off the road, I can hike an out-and-back or a loop. Maybe only a short walk to have lunch. Maybe some photography.

    • Connie me too! I love to be able to stop for a few hours to explore, make coffee, climb, chill out and take photos. Having a bag prepared makes it super easy :)

  • ConnieD

    I keep a lightweight pack in my vehicle.
    If I see a pretty spot and it is public land and I can get my vehicle off the road, I can hike an out-and-back or a loop. Maybe only a short walk to have lunch. Maybe some photography.

  • Connie me too! I love to be able to stop for a few hours to explore, make coffee, climb, chill out and take photos. Having a bag prepared makes it super easy :)

  • Very cool! I keep something similar in my vehicle at all times. Need to get one for the dog though!

    • Having it ready to go makes it a lot easier. Doing the same for your dog is a great idea. If you’re looking for great outdoor gear for your dog I would highly recommend my friend Jason at BackCountryK9.com

      • Cool! Thanks Brian will have to check out his website!