Cultivating a Pack Valet Relationship

Have you ever just wished that you could magically get something out of your backpack without having to unbuckle, dig around, and then strap yourself back in? Sometimes the time and effort to grab that extra pair of gloves just isn’t worth the effort. So you suffer without.

Want to avoid this needless tragedy? It’s easy, with your very own handy-dandy Pack Valet!

A Pack Valet is someone who willingly gets stuff out of, or puts stuff into, your backpack. Not everyone is in need of a Pack Valet, but when you do, they are invaluable. Conversely, not everyone is suited to be a Pack Valet, so choose wisely or risk losing an adventure partner.

The Pack Valet relationship is built on mutual trust and respect. Abuse your pack valet at your peril. Here are some tips to cultivate your own Pack Valet relationship.

Mutual Benefit / Saves Time

The main reason to have a Pack Valet is to save time. Last summer, my friend Sonya brought her dog Pyro on a long day hike to Tent Ridge. It was a hot day, and the dog needed water often. This required Sonya to remove her pack, dig out the water dish, add water, wait for the dog to drink, and then put it all back. I’m not one to wait around, and I quickly realized that if I just dug out the dog stuff, we would be on our way that much quicker.

Since then, we’ve done several dog included hikes, and we’ve established a bit of a routine. Me digging through her pack saves time, which benefits us both.

When is it not quicker to use a Pack Valet? When you BOTH have to remove your packs. It makes no sense to dig through your friend’s pack, only to have him turn around and dig through yours. Simply not wanting to remove your pack is not a valid reason for using your Pack Valet.

Pyro posing with her mom on Tent Ridge. Makes me wonder – was I Sonya’s Pack Valet, or Pyro’s? Deep thoughts.

The best Pack Valets are ones with whom you trade services. Be the best Pack Valet you can be, and in return, enjoy quality service from your Valet.

No hunting!

If you want a long-term Pack Valet relationship, then do not make her hunt for your gear. Know exactly where your extra gloves are, and communicate that clearly. Don’t just say the gloves are in the top of the pack. This could mean the top of the main compartment, or if could mean the smaller zippered pack flap at the top. Be specific.

If the item you need is at the bottom of your pack, and several items have to be removed to access it, this is not a job for your Pack Valet. Remove your pack, and do the excavation yourself.

No Frivolous Requests

Do not put too many demands on your Pack Valet. If you think you’ll need a few items stuffed or retrieved in the next little while, then save them up and do all the pack digging at once. For example, at the start of a hike when all the clothes start to be shed, save up your mitts, toque, and headband for one big pack stuff, instead of three little pack stuffs. Be mindful to not wear out your welcome.

Assume the Position

Always make it easy for your Pack Valet to access your backpack. You are responsible for turning your body to give them full and easy access. It’s not up to the Pack Valet to stand in deep snow or on a cliff edge to access your pack.

If you are taller, or if you want to give access to the top of your pack, then bend your knees to maximize the ease of the Pack Valet. Always think of their comfort.

Sonya is beyond happy with the service she is receiving from her Pack Valet (me!) on Junction Hill. A good Pack Valet takes her job seriously.

The Pack Valet Code

A quality Pack Valet knows their trade well. He must be able to efficiently hunt for sunglasses, black mittens in a black pack, and nab that stray powerbar with speed and grace. She must be well versed in all pack designs, and can quickly re-fasten packs correctly on the first try.

Advanced Pack Valets know how to stow and secure hiking poles in record time. The most highly sought after Pack Valets can secure an ice axe while perched on the edge of a mountain. I highly recommend you ascertain the level of experience of your Pack Valet in advance, and do not ask for what cannot be delivered.

Introduce the Concept Gently

A career as a Pack Valet is not for everyone. If you think someone shows potential, be sure to introduce the job description with tact. One friend boldly declared that her husband was now her Pack Valet after he retrieved something out of her pack. Unfortunately, that exchange did not go well. The rest of us on the hike slowly melted away before the Domestic could begin…

Do not ask the slowest member of your group to Pack Valet. This is akin to a F*ck You stop while skiing. Only those hikers with excess capacity are to Valet.

Be Gracious and Grateful

Having a Pack Valet is an honour and a privilege. Always treat your Pack Valet with kindness. Appreciate their efforts. The best way to treat your Pack Valet is to return the favour. Be mindful to provide the same or higher level of service that you received. If you’re the one always in need of a Pack Valet, then offer to drive, bring an extra snack for the hike, or buy her a coffee before the drive home.

A quality Pack Valet relationship is based on mutual respect and benefit. Be kind and respectful, and you’ll have a Pack Valet for life.

I hope you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek guide to establishing your own mutually beneficial Pack Valet relationship. If so, please click the Star button to “Like” it. You can also follow my blog, follow me on Instagram, or join my FaceBook page Al’s Adventurers.

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Posted in Adventures, Life Hack
15 comments on “Cultivating a Pack Valet Relationship
  1. Sonya Laing says:

    Hahaโ€ฆPyro says thank you for always getting her water, bowl and especially her snacks! Thanks for putting a name to a very important role out on the trails.

  2. Jacquie says:

    This should be included into some of the hiking magazines! Love the humour right now!

    • alisendopf says:

      Thanks Jacquie!!! My last post was so sad, I thought I needed to lighten it up a bit. Glad you found it funny ๐Ÿ™‚ And HEALL YEAH! I’d love for some magazine to print this!

  3. Diana says:

    Ha! I love this, including the term Pack Valet. It is always nice to have hiking buddies with whom you can share the valet duties.

  4. Haha. You forgot to add to rub sand in valetโ€™s eyes. Woodhouse forever๐Ÿ™

  5. Jim Tuttle says:

    “Pack valet” is a very nice term that I’ll soon start using. “Bag sounds-like-beach” is the term I normally use.
    Great write-up on the etiquette of being or using a Valet. I believe I need to hone my hiking pole collapse and store routine so I’ll have the time down to 2-3 seconds like an F1 pit-stop.

    • alisendopf says:

      Hey Jim,
      If you wan to be a Top Tier Pack Valet, then yes, work on those times! ๐Ÿ™‚

      And yes, you have the Original Name for this role, but didn’t think I could publish that ๐Ÿ™‚
      Take care!

  6. I got a good chuckle from this, but it’s so true. It’s hard to find the right Pack Valet and the relationship isn’t always mutual! But when you do, you know they are a keeper ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. mitchteemley says:

    Perfect! I’ll call him “James,” have him heat my stream water for bathing, and then serve me tea and freeze-dried crumpets afterward!

    • alisendopf says:

      You sir are a prime candidate to trek to Machu Picchu. That is exactly how you are treated. Except for the freeze-dried – all fresh food, including a cake served on the last day. It’s hard to come back to Canada after that ๐Ÿ™‚

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