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8 Tips for Packing Your Car for a Camping Trip

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Everyone has felt the frustration of struggling to pack a car—including Tad Summersett, Director of Product Strategy for Private Brands at outdoor retailer REI. “I’d find myself packing and unpacking multiple times before getting everything to fit. Or sweating and frustrated as I dug through layers of tightly packed gear just to find a flashlight to set up camp,” he tells mental_floss. So he decided to do something about it. Through “years of trial and error,” he developed a strategy he dubbed Precision Packing—and by following his tips below, you can quickly and painlessly load up a car, no matter what youre packing for. “Some of these are specific to camping, but most of these tips can be applied to all types of packing,” Summersett says. “Let my mistakes save you from the unnecessary frustration and waste of time.”  

1. DON’T JUST START THROWING THINGS IN THE TRUNK.

Summersett advises laying out all the items near your car—including things that were already in your car—and assessing what you have to fit in there. And make sure that everyone has put out everything they’re planning to bring before you start packing. “Adding just one forgotten item mid-way through the job can mean starting all over, Summersett says. Once you have everything laid out in front of you, assess what all needs to fit. Then start playing Tetris—so to speak—taking into account any of your individual needs throughout the trip and upon arrival. The more you do it, the more efficient your packing becomes.”

2. START WITH A GOOD FOUNDATION ...

As with many projects, the key to packing your car is to start with a strong foundation. “Place your heavier or larger items with flat sides—like a camping cooler or camp stove, or heavier boxes when moving—and build up,” Summerset says.

3. … AND LEAVE SOME HOLES AS YOU BUILD.

It sounds counterintuitive, but leave holes and gaps as you’re packing, which you can later fill with stuff you might need along the way—like camping chairs for a roadside picnic—which youll then be able to easily slide out.

4. POSITION BAGS JUST RIGHT.

You want to make sure everything is easily accessible so you can get into everything without having to fully unload. Summersett advises doing things like turning bags so you can get to the zippers and putting lighting on the top just in case you arrive at the campsite at night.

5. UNROLL THOSE SLEEPING PADS.

Not only will unrolling your sleeping pads give you more flexibility when you’re packing, but you can also put them to work: “They can be used to hold things together,” Summersett says.

6. STRATEGICALLY PLACE THE HEAVY STUFF.

Any heavy or hard objects should be placed “below the highest point of your rear seat to prevent items from banging into your head given a sharp turn or sudden stop,” Summersett says.

7. THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING, WHEN YOU’LL ARRIVE, AND WHAT YOU’LL NEED WHEN YOU GET THERE.

“If you’re arriving at dinnertime, have your camp kitchen readily accessible,” Summersett says. “If you’re arriving after dark, be sure to strategically place your lighting. Aside from those key items, stick to the foundation method with heavier items on the bottom and you’ll set yourself up for success.”

8. WHEN YOU’RE DONE, SNAP A PHOTO.

It will make it much easier to recreate what you’ve done for the trip home. Now hit the road!

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environment
London Unveils New Electric-Powered Black Cabs
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Black taxi cabs (or Hackney carriages, as they're often called) have been a fixture on London's streets for decades. A redesign from the London Taxi Company should ensure they stay that way well into the future. As The Guardian reports, the newly unveiled model of the city's black cab runs on gasoline and electric batteries.

The cabs most Londoners are used to hailing are currently powered by diesel fuel, which releases much more toxic emissions than regular gas. With London facing deadly air pollution levels, city officials are pushing to replace the smog-producers with cleaner modes of transport.

The new cab runs on an electric battery for the first 70 miles of its journey before switching to a fuel reserve for the next 400. (The average cab travels about 120 miles a day.) The London Taxi Company, which will soon rebrand as the London Electric Vehicle Company, plans to have as many as 150 cabs on the road by next year, with the first vehicles debuting in November.

Starting January 1, 2018, Transport for London will require all new taxis in London to be electric or have zero-emissions capabilities. Diesel cabs introduced before the cut-off will be allowed to stay, but after turning 15 they will need to be retired—therefore, the city should be completely diesel-free by 2032.

The black cab isn't the first four-wheeled London icon to receive an earth-friendly update. In 2016, Transport for London launched its inaugural fleet of all-electric double-decker buses, vehicles the agency claimed were the first of their kind.

[h/t The Guardian]

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The Reason Police Officers Tap Your Taillight When They Pull You Over
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Asking a driver for their license and registration is common procedure from police officers during traffic stops. There’s another practice that was once standard across the force but is more of a mystery to the people being pulled over: While approaching a driver’s window, officers will sometimes touch a car's taillight. It's a behavior that dates back decades, though there's no reason to be concerned if it happens at your next traffic stop.

Before cameras were installed on the dashboards of most police cars, tapping the taillight was an inconspicuous way for officers to leave behind evidence of the encounter, according to The Law Dictionary. If something were to happen to the officer during the traffic stop, their interaction with the driver could be traced back to the fingerprints left on the vehicle. This would help other police officers track down a missing member of the force even without video proof of a crime.

The action also started as a way for officers to spook drivers before reaching their window. A pulled-over motorist with a car full of illegal drugs or weapons might scramble to hide any incriminating materials before the officer arrives. The surprise of hearing a knock on their taillight might disrupt this process, increasing their likelihood of getting caught.

Today the risks of this strategy are thought to outweigh the benefits. Touching a taillight poses an unnecessary distraction for officers, not to mention it can give away their position, making them more vulnerable to foul play. And with dash cams now standard in most squad cars, documenting each incident with fingerprints isn’t as necessary as it once was. It’s for these reasons that some police agencies now discourage taillight tapping. But if you see it at your next traffic stop, that doesn’t mean the officer is extra suspicious of you—just that it’s a hard habit to break.

[h/t The Law Dictionary]

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