DENIM DIARIES: Day 21 – Packing

Meredith Vieira hates wearing panties. I know because I heard her talk about it on the View once.  And Nina Garcia, Editor of Elle Magazine, never wears a bra. I know because every season of Project Runway Nina  mentions at least once how bras aren’t chic enough for her.

And then there is my little brother Henry, who just packed twenty-one pairs of underwear for his first year away at college. I know because he told me at dinner five nights ago.

We were breaking bread together as a family. It was my brother’s last supper at home. The mood was jovial, but rather diminished, as we knew it was the end of an era.
The issue of underwear was brought up.

“So you’re totally packed then?” I asked.


Henry pushed his fork and food around on his plate.  “I think so” he said.


He took a moment to finish chewing and then finally swallowed. With total solemnity, he continued.


“I am bringing twenty-one pairs of underwear with me to college.”


This was something he had considered deeply I guess. I thought of Miss Garcia,  who somewhere in New York was probably going bra-less. I thought of Miss Vieria, who was probably going panty-less.  I hoped for her sake she had a really good getting-out-of-a-car-in-a-skirt wiggle. And  finally, I thought of myself, who has always been totally cool with going commando if the occasion calls for it.

“You won’t need that many”, I said.

“Yeah I will dude! I hate doing laundry. Twenty-one is three weeks worth, so, ideally, if I try really hard to keep everything else I own like, totally clean, I might only have to do laundry like … max once a month.” He paused.

“I don’t know, it just seemed like a good system.” He shrugged his shoulders and brought another massive forkful of food into his mouth.

Other than the fact that my brother was totally wrong , this brief discussion illustrates another fact -that right-brained and left-brained siblings pack – and act – very differently.

“Show me your pack and I will tell you what kind of camper you are.” This can be found on page 23 of “The Golden Book of Camping,” a book that has proven incredibly useful, and it could not be more true. How one packs for a trip or is indicative of how one does everything.

Henry is logical, sequential, and orderly. Conversely, I am holistic, random, haphazard, and intuitive.  Three years ago we took a family trip to Memphis. Everything packed into my brother’s suitcase was carefully considered and examined for utmost efficiency before finally being included in the pile.  Once we arrived at the hotel I discovered I had packed three different bathing suits but no pants.

Error and embarrassment are the best teachers. I have improved. Last March I went to Nashville. I had a canvas Filson carry-on and a bison leather duffle.  I had included pants. I had dark interchangeable separates. It was my best pack yet.

 I wanted to share some of my favorite pages from the Golden Book of Camping  which was published in 1959 but given to me as a gift in 2012. It may be a little dated and politically incorrect but the guidelines for packing appropriately and sewing tarps are still super rad and useful..

Saturday my family dropped my little brother and his pack off at college. He had whittled his underwear collection down to just fourteen. They were all probably folded neatly.

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