The Best Way to Pack a Backpack

The Best Method for Packing a Backpack


I love packing. I especially love packing for long trips – 14 days or so. It’s complicated and becomes more so the longer you plan on being out there. Of course, there's the geometry of packing it all in the backpack. Who doesn't like geometry? You must also consider the terrain you’ll be crossing, weather conditions, food and water requirements, and possible hazards along the way. Here are a few tips to help you pack it all in and carry it comfortably. Later this week we'll post an essential checklist to help you pack.

Clear a table or space on the floor and place everything you intend to pack before you. Group them by size: lightweight, medium weight and heavy. Also, consider which items you’ll need while on the trail and which you’ll only need when at the campsite.

Pack everything you can inside the backpack. If you strap things on the outside of the pack, they can get damaged or lost. Even if your pack has tool loops or special fasteners for trekking poles, tent poles, sleeping bag pads, etc., use carabiners as secondary secure tools when possible. Always test the balance of the pack. Balance as best you can.

Things you need quick access to should be placed in the outside pouches (compass, maps, sunscreen, water bottle, etc.).

Lightweight and bulky items (sleeping bags, shoes, etc.) should be placed in a waterproof bag and situated in the bottom of the backpack. You want most of these items to be things you’ll not need until you reach camp.

Place heavier items (stove, food, tent body, etc.) in the middle or core of your pack.

Heavier bulky items (jackets, first aid kit, water purifier, etc.) you need on the trail will go towards the top of the backpack.

This packing method places the center of gravity towards the middle of the backpack for a comfortable carry.

Secure everything within the pack (first aid kits, clothing, food, and other equipment) in waterproof bags. Tighten all compression bags. Try placing food and clothing in compression bags to save space.

Fill up all empty spaces. You can use clothing or wrap heavier items within clothing to fill space.

If you’re carrying fuel with you, place it in a durable plastic bag in case of leakage. Place fuel in the bottom of your pack for the same reason.

While camping, remove only those items you’re presently using from the backpack. If Zombies enter your camp, you may have to grab your pack and leave in a rush.

Remember, never ever go out into the woods with a Survival Kit and a good Knife!

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