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Minimizing the time and energy required for trip preparation requires that you:

  1. Limit the number of decisions you have to make; and
  2. Keep everything you need for the trip in one extremely small area.

This article describes how I accomplish these two objectives with a philosophical framework.

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Minimizing the time and energy required to prepare for a trip may mean that you break down the barriers that prevent you from getting out there. I was thinking about this exact thing when this photograph was taken: being able to wake up to this scene only a few hours of prep time, travel, and hiking time from my house is worth keeping the barriers to a minimum.

Minimizing Decision Paralysis by Limiting Choices

Decision paralysis is the state of mental and emotional flux caused by the inability to make a choice. That state of flux costs you both time and energy to maintain. It most often occurs when (1) you are faced with myriad choices, or (2) you are faced with a decision between very similar choices.

Too Many Choices: When selecting gear for a backpacking trip (and especially, for a long expedition), the number of choices in my gear inventory has been crippling for me. And then consider the readily-available inventory from the multitude of manufacturers online (between free shipping and express delivery, my inventory was no longer limited to what I housed at home!) and the options increase exponentially. As I accumulated more and more gear, I became increasingly frustrated by the time and energy I spent trying to evaluate which one was the best option for a particular scenario – packs, sleeping bags, pads, stoves, pots, base layers, rain jackets – the list goes on.

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By Ryan Jordan

Founder and publisher of since November 2000. My home is (currently!) Estes Park, Colorado, and my backyard trails are in the Rockies of Southeast Wyoming and Northern Colorado. I like packrafting, tenkara fly fishing, alpine climbing, and have a particular passion for traveling long distances off-trail without resupply. I'm online elsewhere at and Instagram.

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