Is your backpack messed up? Can’t fit all the items in it? Are you looking for some tips and tricks to organize your backpack more efficiently? Then this article about how to pack a hiking backpack is what you need to check.
But before going to the details let’s check if you have chosen the right backpack or not because packing a backpack properly, also depends on what backpack you have chosen.
How to pack a hiking backpack
You will regret after getting off for the hiking or backpacking if you do not properly manage all the necessary items in the pack. We arranged everything step by step to make clear.
1. Choosing the backpack:
The number one rule for hiking is getting the lightest backpack possible. Always choose the smallest and lightest backpack with enough storage. For a day hike, a smaller pack is enough but for an overnight trip, you should get a pack that will fit all your sleeping gear, extra water, and food.
Basically, the backpack is measured in liters and sold from liters between 25 to 90. The average backpack capacity for a day hike is 25 to 50 liters. And for a five to more days hike, average backpack capacity is 65 to 90 liters.
Aside from the capacity of the pack, you should always consider the season you are hiking in, as you will need to pack clothes and other extras accordingly.
Most of the backpack comes with internal frames that support the body and offer optimum comfort. So you should look for that too!
If you have not bought your pack yet or want to change your current one, you can always check our website for reviews of the lightweight and affordable backpacks. If you want our suggestion, we will say check Osprey Exos 38, as it is one of the lightest backpacks with enough storage!
2. Gather the necessary materials:
When going hiking, you should always bring only essential items. It can be very tempting to bring your camera, a journal, and maybe your favorite pillow but trust us, bringing unnecessary extras can only weigh you down. So, pack only the things you need. What things you will need depends on how long your hike will last.
Take the lightest gear of everything if possible. Below is a list of some essentials we have found by doing some deep research which you should carry on your hike.
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Waterproof matches or lighter
- First aid kit
- Extra water and food
- Extra clothing
- Water treatment
- The emergency shelter like a tent and sleeping bag.
- Cooking supplies
3. Layout the essentials by weight:
Spread all the essentials you are bringing on your hike on something like table or ground. Then organize them into piles according to the weight of the items like make a pile for heavy items, another for medium, and another for small items. Organizing the items this way will help you pack everything properly in an organized way and ensure your hike will be comfortable.
4. Consolidate the items:
Consolidating items will maximize empty space for keeping other items and will prevent them from loosely traveling in your backpack. This way your bag will stay organized and well-weighted.
Not clear about consolidating? Let us explain you with an example. Let’s say you are carrying a small cooking pot with you. So, you can stuff it will food supplies or your extra pair of socks and maximize some space.
5. Keep the same items together:
Keep all the small items you will use at the same time in one place. For example, pack your toiletries in one apartment of the bag to keep them together.
6. Leave behind items which won’t fit:
Some items would not fit in or would not be easily packed, now is the time to leave those items behind. You can use the small version of those items. For example, you can carry a mini sunscreen pack, instead of a bottle.
7. Filling the bag:
Pack the items in a way that all the lightest items are at the bottom, and then the heaviest items. Keep the heaviest items centered between your shoulder blades and the medium items stashed around them. This way the weight will be distributed all over the bag and keep your back healthy.
If you pack the heavy items first, then it will put a lot more strain on your back. So, packing them right along your upper spine distributes the weight of the pack on your hips rather than where it would cause injury.
If you are planning to camp overnight, then pack the sleeping bag and sleeping items first. Then on top of those, pack the extra clothes. Then pack the heaviest items centered between your shoulder blades right up against your back.
Now, pack the medium weight items so they surround the other items and stabilize the pack. Wrap the flexible items like tarps or clothing around the heavier items to prevent them from shifting while you hike.
8. Keep important items at hand:
There are a few important items you will need a lot, so keep them at a hand distance. If your important items are light, keep them on top or outer pockets.
Keep food, water, maps, GPS, flashlight, and first aid handy. Pack these items there, where you will find them easily.
9. External items:
Items which won’t fit in your backpack, you can attach them externally by strapping it to the top, bottom or side of your pack.
For example, you can attach the tent poles to the top of your backpack and hang your water bottle from the side.
10. Use stuff sacks to pack:
Use stuff sacks to pack your items as they are popular gear used to keep backpacks organized. Stuff sacks are lightweight and durable and help to keep your food item organized and separate them from the rest. You can keep different items in the different sacks, for example, food in a sack and toiletries in another.
11. Bear canisters:
You can keep small items like food, deodorant, sunscreen, and other items in the bear canisters as they are smell-tight containers.
The canister is a heavy item, so pack it with the heavy items between the shoulder blades and right next to your spine.
You can also wrap a flexible item like tarp or extra clothes around the canister so it does not move while you hike.
12. Lift the bag and see how it feels:
Lift the pack and tighten the compression straps to a comfortable position and walk around to see how it feels. If you feel comfortable and pack feels compressed and secure then you are good to go.
If the items inside the pack shift around, then remove the pack and repack again.
If the pack feels tippy, then again repack the pack so that the heavier items are centered between your shoulder blades right against your spine.
Repack the backpack and distribute the weight more evenly on either side, if you feel off the balance.
If the pack is heavy, then think about what you can leave behind and then get rid of them.
13. Rain cover:
Use a rain cover for your backpack. Some pack comes with an integrated rain cover. If your pack does not have one, then buy an extra one. They are lightweight and will save your pack from getting soaked by rain or snow. When it’s not raining or snowing, you can easily stuff your rain cover inside the pack because it is lightweight and small.
If you find this article useful enough or has anything to share with us, then don’t forget to let us know.