How to pack a backpack for hiking? Everyone can stuff gear into a bag, but learning how to pack a backpack has some big rewards.
You’ll be more organised for the trek. Since you’ve made an effort to put each item in its place, it will be easy to find when you need it. And two, your bag will be much more comfortable to carry because you would have distributed the load evenly.
WHAT TYPE OF BACKPACK SHOULD YOU PICK?
Before we get into the details of loading up your pack, you need to ask yourself a simple question: What type of backpack do I need? This question can be answered, by imagining what you want out of your trip. Is it going to be a morning stroll, a full-day hike?
LAY EVERYTHING OUT
Lay out everything you want to bring in front of you. Spreading out all your gear gives you a good overview of what you plan to take. You can then begin to visualise where you’ll put your gear and come up with a packing strategy.
Another useful tip is to take a closer look at the clothing you’re planning to pack. A common mistake is to overpack. You won’t need as many pieces of clothing as you think you might. Base layers and wet-weather gear are necessities.
PACK YOUR HIKING BACKPACK – THE SEQUENCE
1. PACK THE BOTTOM OF THE BACKPACK
Since things at the bottom of your pack are the hardest to get to we’re going to start with what we won’t need during the day. This is typically camping gear.
The first thing to go into your backpack—and the last thing to come out—is your sleeping bag. Make sure you store your sleeping bag in a dry bag to make sure it won’t get wet if you set your pack on the damp ground.
Now let’s pack the rest of our camping gear, such as a sleeping pad and a pillowcase, around your sleeping bag. If you have a big sleeping pad like the Therm-a-Rest, you can save space by strapping it onto the outside of the pack. In general, all camp gear goes in the bottom of your backpack except for your headlamp or flashlight.
As you’re loading your pack, keep weight distribution in mind. Put the lightweight gear in the bottom of your backpack. The heaviest things should be as close to your back as possible and in the middle of your pack.
While trekking on most of our adventures, all you will need to carry is a daypack so you won’t need camping gear, but the lesson is the same. Pack gear you won’t need fast at the bottom of the bag, like spare clothing.
2. PACK THE MIDDLE OF THE BACKPACK
Now that we’ve got the bottom of our packs loaded, let’s pack the middle. Put heavy gear right on top of your sleeping and camping gear. Think food, extra water, camera bag. I prefer to keep crampons in their bag, and in my pack.
The trick is to figure out how to pack your backpack so that it is well balanced, with a stable centre of gravity. How do you do that? Keep heavy things away from the outside, bottom and top of your backpack.
3. PACK THE TOP OF THE BACKPACK
So, what goes into the top portion of your backpack?
Rain gear at the top for easy and quick access. This is where you should put your small necessities, such as sunglasses, head torch, a first-aid kit, a compass, a map, lip balm, hand sanitizer and snacks.
Sometimes, backpacks come with small zippered pouches on the hip belt. These, along with other external pockets, are also great places to keep small gear and snacks.
4. ATTACH EXTRA GEAR TO THE OUTSIDE
After filling up your backpack, you might still have some gear left. Strap equipment such as hiking poles and ice axes to the outside of your bag.
MORE TIPS ON PACKING
Make use of all empty spaces in your backpack. Put socks in your spare shoes. Put utensils, matches and other small items in your cooking pots.
The key to packing your backpack is to keep things that you will most likely need within easy reach. Gear that you plan to use at camp can go somewhere deep inside your bag.
Almost all backpacks have compression straps. Pull them as tightly as possible to minimise your backpack’s volume and keep everything in place.
I hope that answered your questions on, How to pack a backpack for hiking?