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User experience of “Packing Pro” app for gear and packing lists


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Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
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  • #1330726
    Hugh Webb
    BPL Member

    @magoo

    I've been playing around with various methods for organising, checking, and generally obsessing and compulsing over my gear. I've tried paper lists, excel spreadsheets, the "gram weenie" app, and, most recently, an app called "Packing Pro". It costs $3.49 AUD and with a couple of important exceptions I'm really very impressed. To be clear, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the makers of the app, just a longstanding interest in analysing gear choices, refining lists for particular trips, and being able to quickly and accurately pack exactly what I want from my gear room at 5.15pm on a Friday night as I scramble out the door for a weekend trip. I suspect at least some of these interests may be shared by others here, which is why I am writing this.

    There are four things I like about the app that I cannot find in any other comparable app or software. First, I can very quickly build gear lists for specific trips specifying what I want, including precise multiples of items (e.g. 6 Rota Locura CF stakes, and 2 Ti sheperd's hook stakes). THis feature is relatively easy in excel but is awkward to read and check off on an iphone or ipad. Conversely, Gram Weenie is a nice app interface, but doesn't allow multiples of items. Second, it is possible to assign items to particular bags (including specifying items worn) and to particular people. I know most people here prefer to go solo, but it is quite nice when organising group gear and sharing food, to be able to quickly organise, sort and assign shared items, while still keeping track of weights that each individual will carry. Thirdly, it allows you to create an integrated list of all of the things you need to do, before and after the trip, including alarms (for example, reminding you to take your steripen off the recharger before you leave). Fourth, it allows for lots of customisation — including nice symbols and colour coding of bags and notes about particular items of gear.

    In sum, it brings together two interesting functions in one app: a gear list and a packing list.

    Nevertheless, there are a number of limitations to the app, in large part because it has been designed as a generic packing app for travellers, not for backpacking gear lists specifically. For this reason, the gear list functionality is not as refined as it could be. For example, while it is possible to enter and view how much each item weighs, the summary totals only allow for category weight (e.g. shelter subtotal, cooking gear subtotal etc.), Base Weight, Consumable weight, and Skin out weight. It is not possible to view base plus consumable weight (but the maths is pretty easy), as can be done with gram weenie. Perhaps more problematically for some, summary totals are rounded to the nearest 100 grams. Finally, it is a bit of a hastle to enter in all of the data to the master list to begin with (but for some this is a labour of love, and once the data is in, it is very easy to add items of gear to customised lists for specific trips).

    I can imagine a general set of negative reactions to the app: that it is overthinking the issue and can be done easily enough with excel or a piece of paper. To these people I say terrific, I'm happy you've found a system that works for you.

    To others who may be more interested in systems like this for neatly tracking gear and creating gear lists I think the app has significant potential. I'm interested in hearing from this latter group, specifically: have you used this app?, what do you and don't you like about it and what alternatives have you tried? What recommendations would you have to the developer for improving the app (who seems quite active and responsive to user requests)

    I am considering sending a request for more options to view item and subtotal weights and with greater precision, but I'm curious if others have any thoughts of other features they might want.

    For interest, here are some screenshots:

    Main category menuWeight summary totals pagecatalog item screen

    #2214594
    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member

    @kbabione

    Locale: Pennsylvania

    Looks interesting – I have and use the Gram Weenie app and may purchase and play around with this one.

    One other note…You can get a full screenshot of your iPhone saved to your camera roll by simply holding down the power button and clicking the multi-touch button once. Comes in really handy if you ever want to post or email screenshots.

    #2218339
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    I've used the app to pack for 2 trips now. It took a little effort to understand how to generate and populate my lists, how to edit and navigate, etc, but once established it makes modifying your lists quite easy and being able to carry my iPad around and check stuff off as I add it to my pile is really cool. I didn't bother with entering all the weights so I can't comment on that utility. I like that you can add notes that appear in the check-off list view so you can have an item like "Stove" and next to that you can see, for instance, the model "Jetboil Sol Ti" and even add a thumbnail pic straight from your camera app if you like (haven't bothered with that either though). There are lots of icons that you can choose from to represent your sub-list or category. You can collapse or expand sublists and it shows a little tally of how many of the items in that list have been checked off, so even collapsed you have a reminder of how packing for that list is coming along. The next time you need the app for packing you can uncheck all the items easily and start packing fresh. Neat.

    Anyway, I'll keep using it. I might keep my Excel trip lists going, but for the actual packing I probably won't use my printout and clipboard anymore. Good find.

    #2218344
    Larry De La Briandais
    BPL Member

    @hitech

    Locale: SF Bay Area

    Does it allow you to choose the quantities of what you are going to take and then allow you to "check off" each item as you pack it? Ensuring I packed everything is more important that knowing the actual weight (I have a good idea of what that is already).

    Thanks, it look interesting.

    #2218480
    Hugh Webb
    BPL Member

    @magoo

    Yeah, thanks Philip. I agree the icons are nice. I also like the ability to colour code the icons. For example, I have a porter pack that is white, and a day pack that is blue. I can use one of the backpack icons to represent them both by "colouring" them in. You then see these bags when you pick them off.

    Larry, here is a picture (thanks Kevin) showing how you check items off individually:List

    #2218485
    Larry De La Briandais
    BPL Member

    @hitech

    Locale: SF Bay Area

    Thanks, I think I am going to give it a try.

    #3788804
    Mike J
    BPL Member

    @mikejones3-2

    Locale: SoCal

    A newcomer to the list, I have been building out an app called Don’t Forget The Spoon:

    https://dontforgetthespoon.com/

    #3788855
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    I just read the thread before I realized it was old. Obviously some people enjoy these technological aids, and if they work for you, I think that’s great. I’m just going to share a different perspective.

    Maybe someday I will try one of these apps or a spreadsheet, but it just seems like extra work for no tangible benefit … for me, at least. I like to keep things simple and always remind myself that backpacking is an opportunity for relaxation, self-reflection, and joy. Hopefully it’s not a source of stress or obsession.

    In that vein, my packing system is that I put everything I need in a pile on the floor, and then I put everything in the pile into my pack or my dog’s pack. I know this doesn’t even sound like a system, but it seems to work flawlessly in practice.  :-)

    Years ago, I used to weigh my pack when I finished loading it, but after a while I stopped bothering because I realized it was pointless. Whatever it weighs, it’s as light as I can make it. Knowing the weight doesn’t help.

    #3788862
    Mike J
    BPL Member

    @mikejones3-2

    Locale: SoCal

    Years ago, I used to weigh my pack when I finished loading it, but after a while I stopped bothering because I realized it was pointless. Whatever it weighs, it’s as light as I can make it. Knowing the weight doesn’t help.

    I kind of agree with this statement, I am not crazy about finding the ultimate lightest set up. I take what I need for the trip, and some trips I know I need to be light and fast while others I can be slow and heavy. A pound or two difference to me is not a big deal. Maybe its cause I had some heavy packs while in the Marine Corps.

    Thats kind of where my philosophy with Don’t Forget The Spoon may differ from lighterpack. Where lighter pack seems to be the main goal to lighten your load by visually seeing where all the weight is, thats just a feature of Dont Forget The Spoon and not the main Idea behind it.

     

    With Don’t Forget The Spoon, I focus more on a being a checklist so you can easily swipe items as you pack them away in your pack for your trip. To me its more dangerous to forget an item then to shave a gram or two here and there.

    #3788866
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    A pound or two difference to me is not a big deal.

    Respectfully, this is not exactly what I was saying. At my age and with my physical limitations, an extra couple of pounds IS a big deal. I don’t want to carry any extra weight.

    But I don’t think we go into the process of packing for a trip with an arbitrary goal weight in mind. We lighten each functional piece of gear as much as we can, we don’t pack the things we don’t need, and we carry the rest, whatever it weighs. Knowing the total weight doesn’t help me in any meaningful way. I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I tend to think that the people weighing their packs are often doing it for bragging rights. The more (ahem) “mature” members of the forum have probably put that behind them, for the most part.

    That said, a scale can be really useful when deciding between options that have equivalent/similar functionality. For example, I’ve used a scale extensively when putting together a cooking system or a water purification system from components, so I can choose the lightest option.

    Anyway, I understand that this is not the main goal of your app, just thought I’d respond to that one point.

    #3788867
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    I still use PackingPro, and like it a lot. The tangible benefit is never forgetting something at home.

    #3788869
    Mike J
    BPL Member

    @mikejones3-2

    Locale: SoCal

    I still use PackingPro, and like it a lot. The tangible benefit is never forgetting something at home.

    Since you like PackingPro for helping you pack and not forget items, I would love to get your Feedback on Don’t Forget The Spoon.

     

    #3788870
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    If I get a chance I’ll poke around in the app.

    #3788871
    Terran Terran
    BPL Member

    @terran

    I don’t know if I’m “mature” or just lazy. I think it’s the later.

    #3788886
    DWR D
    BPL Member

    @dwr-2

    Paper list for me… infinitely customizable… no glitches or electronic failures or having to learn someone else’s logic tree built into an app. But, I am not coordinating anyone else’s pack. Mostly I don’t calculate the weight anymore. I already own all the lightweight gear I want. So whatever it weighs after putting what I want in the pack, is what I am going to carry. No obsessing on grams.

    #3788887
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    My application is more like DWR’s in that I really just want a packing list and don’t bother with weights and tons of gory details. But I do appreciate the  app format in that it syncs between devices so it never gets lost, it’s easy to update and change, and I put my items in categories. And this brings me to one aspect of the Spoon app that I don’t like. It seems to just generate one long packing list in alphabetical order and has no other organizational options that I have found. I like packing all my clothes at once and then moving on to other categories. PackingPro allows collapsible categories and you can check items off directly on the main checklist screen without having to go into an extra screen to mark the item as ‘packed’. The category headings also tell you at a glance how many of the items in that category have been check as packed, which I really like.

    Here I have expanded the packraft category and have checked off 3 of 12 potential items.

    Compare that to Spoon where the lack of a hierarchical organization and lack of first-level check boxes is less elegant in my opinion.

    Spoon also requires you to add a LOT of detail about an item before allowing you to move on, like naming it, manufacturer, item type, pack category, weight… jeeze. Scrolling through the long list of possibilities for things like item type is annoying, though the auto complete is helpful. I suppose that stuff is useful if you were to share your lists with a community for good bookkeeping purposes, but I don’t intend on doing this. Another thing that would be nice would be for more of the details you were made to enter about the item appeared in the pack list view. But the main thing would be to organize the pack list by item type or pack category and easier access to the packed/non-packed designation.

    Anyway, probably a good app for folks a little more in the gram-counting weeds than me. It’s a good start for sure.

    #3788892
    Mike J
    BPL Member

    @mikejones3-2

    Locale: SoCal

    Phillip appreciate all the feedback and info! Really detailed, thanks! Here are some clarifications that may help:

    It seems to just generate one long packing list in alphabetical order and has no other organizational options that I have found.

    The app does create one long list, that can be either alphabetical or by weight (Changed in setting). At the top of the list though are the summary cards which add some extra functionality. So for example you can tap any of the “Graphed” categories to filter the list and only show one category at a time. So if you tap Clothing Category the list will only show items that are in clothing and from their you can swipe to pack each item. You can read more about those summary cards in the documentation here.

    you can check items off directly on the main checklist screen without having to go into an extra screen to mark the item as ‘packed’.

    I mentioned it above, but worth highlighting here. You can swipe right anytime on an item to mark it packed. No need to tap an item and manually change it. See the packing gear section of documentation for more info.

    The category headings also tell you at a glance how many of the items in that category have been check as packed, which I really like.

    I never thought of this and actually really like it. May add this in a summary card or tweek the total packed summary card to add this info.

    Scrolling through the long list of possibilities for things like item type is annoying, though the auto complete is helpful.

    Worth noting here, these fields are free form and you can type anything. Think of the drop downs as a suggestion.

    easier access to the packed/non-packed designation.

    I think this comment is in reference to actually marking them as packed, which I mentioned you can swipe right to pack. If you tap the percent packed number in the center, it will filter your pack to only show items that are not packed. This is helpful to quickly see what you still have not put in your pack so you don’t forget anything.

    #3788894
    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member

    @philip-ak

    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    I hadn’t seen the swiping to pack/unpack feature before. That is very helpful. As was the tapping on the ‘graphed’ category to filter to those items. I read through the instructions online but I guess I missed those. That does improve the usability a lot.

    It still would be nice to be able to leave some of the entries blank in the gear locker (the ones marked by *) and go just back and fill in details later if you felt like it.

    But for folks that do like to enter weights, the graphs by category are handy.

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