It may sound like a simple task, but there is actually a science to how to pack a backpack before heading out into the backcountry for a long hike. Distributing the weight properly will help you maintain your balance when going over rugged terrain or down a steep trail. We are gonna touch on some key points of how to properly pack your gear for your next adventure.
First thing to do is lay out all of your gear and determine what is your lightest gear, what items do you need access to the most, etc. This will help you determine the order in which you start to put your gear in to your pack. You are going to want to put your bedding in the very bottom. This puts a light soft load towards the bottom of your spine. It also makes the end of your pack into a really good camp stool. Most modern day packs will have a separate bottom compartment for your bedding, making it easier to pull out with out messing up the rest of your gear. My Osprey Aether came equipped with this feature and one other side opening pocket. Read more in my comprehensive review here.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
Next up is your heaviest items. These are the things that you will not need quick access to while on the trail and can be buried in the middle. Packing your backpack like this will place the heaviest things in the center of your spine. Doing so will spread the weight of your load more evenly, helping you to hike longer and further more comfortably.
Last but not least, are the pieces of gear you will want to grab fast. Like rain gear or food. No one wants to be the person that has to dump their entire pack on the side of the trail just to grab a granola bar. Think about what you might want to be able to grab quickly on the trail and put those items towards the top of your pack.
If your backpack is equipped with a top pouch and hip pockets, this is a great place for all your miscellaneous items. Such as your headlamp, maps, chapstick, energy gel, spare batteries, compass, water tablets, first aid kit, etc. All of these things I can grab out with no problems, and not even have to take my pack off. This conserves a lot of energy, again making it a bit easier to hike further.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to utilize the outside of your backpack. Personally I always have several items clipped on the back. From solar panels to recharge my batteries to letting my water shoes hang dry. On some trips I have even been known to carry a frisbee. To each there own. I hope this article helped you learn how to pack a backpack for your next big trip to bond with nature.
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