Packing a backpack isn’t as easy as it looks. Well, if you’re going to make your life easier and have an orderly backpack it isn’t, you should always try and pack as orderly and optimally as possible.
With best practice it starts by laying out all the items you want to take with you on the floor so you can clearly see everything. Do a quick check for anything you’ve forgotten, and remove anything that really isn’t necessary.
You will thank yourself when you’re a few miles into a hike and your backpack is a little lighter due to cutting the non-essentials.
Putting together a checklist when you have narrowed in on exactly what you need is a good idea. It makes remembering everything a lot easier the next time you pack your backpack. As well as being handy to refer to when you return home if you think you’ve lost or left anything behind.
You need to look at your backpack as having three sections. The bottom, the middle and the top. Each section is used to store different items, and I will explain the why and what you pack in each section below.
Packing the Bottom of Your Backpack
Anything you place in the bottom of your backpack is going to be difficult to get to. So you should be packing those items that you will only need once you’re setting up camp. Like your sleeping bag and any other items used to make or sleep in your bed.
There shouldn’t be any breakable items, but it’s worth reminding you that any fragile items may get broken if the are in the bottom of your backpack.
Packing the Middle of Your Backpack
This is where you pack most of your important items. Be mindful of weight distribution, you want the weight in your backpack to be as evenly spread as possible. Otherwise you will feel pressure off-center when walking and it’ll put extra pressure on your spine.
You’re going to pack all of your cooking items in this section as tidily as possible. So your stove, cookware, and water supply. If you’re using a hydration bladder this may go in an outer pocket to give you easy access to the tube. Some backpacks have a special sleeve to hold bladders, if you’re buying a new backpack this is definitely worth accounting for,
A useful tip here is to wrap any metal items like pots and pans in softer fabrics to avoid them knocking together. Clashing of pans can get annoying on a long hike.
Packing the Top of Your Backpack
You need to pack all those items you want close to hand on the top of your backpack. Items like sunscreen, a flashlight, first-aid pack, GPS, snacks, toilet paper, bug repellent, etc. There will be various pockets with easy access all over your backpack too, so make good use of those for some of these items if needed.
Here are some handy tips to keep in mind when packing your backpack:
- Make good use of external pockets, especially those you can reach while hiking. Snacks and GPS are always handy.
- Use every little bit of available space, such as the inside of pots and pans.
- Tighten the backpack as close to your back as possible to make walking more comfortable.
- Distribute the weight as evenly as possible.
- Make sure any fuel canisters are tightly closed and wrapped in a waterproof bag.
- Be prepared for all potential weather conditions, pack sunscreen and a waterproof rain cover.
- Pack some handy tools and items to perform makeshift repairs, like rope and duct tape.
There you have it. I’ve covered everything you need to know about packing your backpack properly for a hiking trip or camping. It’s worth putting in a little extra time to make sure you pack everything properly. You will have a much more enjoyable backpacking experience because of it.