Overlanding Lifehacks: Using 'Mise-En-Place' Principles To Organize Your Gear

Jan 4, 2024by Jason F
Overlanding lifehack: using 'mise en place' to organize your gear

Welcome To The 'Overlanding Lifehacks' Series

Have you are ever misplaced important gear or realized you forgot something at home when you are remote camping or on an extended overlanding trip? When your rig is packed to the gills with gear the last thing you want to do is spend twenty minutes searching for something in all the chaos.

We are organization freaks. That's why we make storage solutions for keeping camping and overlanding gear organized - but there's so much more to it than that. We want to maximize vehicle space, and we also want to find everything quickly and easily. This is not just a puzzle to solve but a way of establishing a mental order. In other words: we're not just trying to bring order to our gear (and vehicle) but to our own mind.

In our new Overlanding Lifehacks series we'll take a look at clever ways to  improve off-road adventure travel - whether that be changing out gear, changing the way we organize our gear, shifting habits and perspective, and more.

What Is 'Mise-En-Place' And Why Does It Matter?

In this first article we're going to borrow a phrase from the world of the culinary arts. It's a french phrase: 'Mise-en-place' ("meez ah plos" or "mi zɑ̃ ˈplas"), which means 'to put in place'. But this personal organization system isn't just for high end chefs. In the book Work Clean: The Life-Changing Power of Mise-En-Place To Organize Your Life, Work, and Mind author Dan Charnas insists that the principles of Mise-En-Place (MEP) are for everyone - not just chefs! Here are a few choice excerpts from the book:

“By being organized, you will be more efficient. By being more efficient, you will have more time in your day. By having more time in your day, you will be more relaxed in your day; you will be able to accomplish the task at hand in a clear, concise, fluid motion.”

"So many of us have convinced ourselves that because we are busy, we are working to the fullest extent of our abilities. But chefs know that there is a big difference between working hard and working clean.”  

“Time and space do bend, but they bend for the engaged, not the disengaged.”  

Convinced yet - or at least curious? It's all about effectively managing time and resources to get the most out of life - and in our case: outdoor adventures!

Mis-En-Place Principles: Breaking It Down

We're looking to create more enjoyable adventures out on the road and trail. That means minimizing chaos and removing frustrations. Here are a few MEP  principles to get us going:

  • Planning Is Prime
    In another recent article we talked about taking an inventory of your camping and overlanding gear and planning out the kind of adventures you want to take. You may need to plan a different load out for each trip based on length of time and where you are headed. Keep in mind your time and space limitations and dry run packing your vehicle. Don't wait until the trip. Do some prep work at the beginning of the travel season so you are not rushing around like a maniac when the next trip is at hand.

  • Arranging Spaces, Perfecting Movements 
    This may seem simple but it's easier said than done. Map out your overlanding vehicle according to tasks and place gear accordingly. If you cook from the back of your vehicle make sure all your cooking gear is at hand and ready to deploy from that space. What about first aid gear? Don't stuff it under everything - keep it in view and accessible so it can be found in an instant. Labeling bags or bins (whichever you use) goes a long way in quickly identifying where everything is. The wiser you use your space the more you can actually fit.
  • Clean As You Go
    You made it out the door and you on your first trip of the year! When you arrive at your first basecamp the explosion of gear begins. Resist the urge to just pull everything out at once. Only take out what is necessary and if you pull gear out that is only needed at certain times - put it back in it's place when not in use. Now if you can just get all your travel mates to do the same!

There are a bunch more MEP principles that we can unpack but we'll stop there for now. Staying organized with your time and space when you are out in the wild is all about keeping your sanity and enjoying your journey more. We hope this introduction to Mis-En-Place is a helpful beginning to some lifelong lifehacks. Happy trails!