How to Pack a Backpack – 7 Tips from the Happy Camper
When planning a hiking, backpacking or extended trip, correctly packing your backpack can really make a difference. Start with a check list of the items you plan to bring with you. You might find it helpful to consider these items in terms of broad categories: emergency gear, first aid supplies, personal toiletry items, cooking utensils, sleeping gear, clothes, food. You might also include photography or video equipment and entertainment items. Your needs will vary based on the length of your trip. For example, you don´t need to worry about a tent or other sleeping gear if you’re just planning an afternoon hike. Once you have your check list, you can start working on packing your backpack.
There are a few simple tips you can follow to make sure your backpack is comfortable and that you can easily reach the items you need when you need them:
1. Keep heavy items close to your back. This will help stabilize your backpack so that it doesn´t move around as much. For best results, you’ll also want to center heavy items along your spine. Here are some examples of items based on their weight:
a. lighter: clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, towel
b. medium: stove, cooking utensils
c. heavier: food, tent
2. Whether you put heavy items relatively lower or higher in your pack will depend on the type of terrain you plan to hike. For trail hiking (even-terrain), you can pack heavy items near the top of the backpack distributing the majority of weight over your hips. If you plan on hiking rough, uneven terrain pack heavy items toward the bottom portion of the backpack’s main compartment. This will help balance the weight of your load and keep your center of gravity low making it easier to maneuver uneven ground. Note: Most packs have a lower compartment for your sleeping bag, one of your lightest items and regardless of terrain it serves as a good base to your main compartment. If it all possible, stick your smaller tents in here under the sleeping bag and strap your poles to the outside of your pack.
3. Think about the things you’ll need often, like water, sunscreen, bug spray, map, compass, snack food, first aid kit, etc. Make sure you pack these things where you can easily reach them. If you plan to use stuff sacks or containers color code them by category. For example, all food is in green containers, toiletries in blue, etc. I’ve also seen people pack everything divided into clear plastic bags. Whatever you method its important to keep things organized so you don’t have to rummage through your pack scattering everything everywhere and anywhere. Also consider what you’ll need during the day and what you’ll use at night. Keep items you’ll need during the day near the top of the pack for easy access. Sleeping gear can be packed at the bottom of the backpack.
4. If you bring rain gear, you can attach it to the outside of your pack since you don´t have to worry about it getting wet. This will open up some room inside the backpack and keep rain gear easily accessible. Also, always have a pack cover, most backpacks are made from waterproof material but are still vulnerable around zippers and seams. The heaviest backpack is one with a bunch of wet items in it. Never ever leave home without stuffing your sleeping bag into a fail safe waterproof stuff sack or you will regret it!
5. Don’t waste space. Make sure you don’t have empty pockets of space. For example, stuff your pots with clothing or similar items. Important: A 75% full backpack is not wasted space as long as you have utilized that 75% to its fullest capacity. I often leave home without a completely full pack realizing I will likely pick up gifts and other things along the way especially if in another country. Many times I just prefer to buy things local, its usually cheaper and you are likely helping a economy that needs it. If your just going to be in the outback far from civilization then forget the above mentioned and pack what you need but be sensible. PACK LIGHT is the best advice anyone can give you. If you ask any backpacker after a trip what they would of done different 9 of 10 will say they would of packed lighter. Really, you only need 2-3 outfits and never ever bring COTTON. Always pack Polyester/Nylon articles of clothing and don’t hesitate to use a stuff/compression sack. I find rolling works best instead of folding, so roll roll roll them stylish polyester hiking pants.
6. Duct tape anything you can including water bottles, fuel bottles, food bottles, etc. Just wrap it around a few times and 9 times out of 10 you will find a use for it at some point along your trip. Trust me you will.
7. Find items that double or triple their use. Examples: A Bandanna can be used as a hat, a washcloth, and a napkin. Nivea Active 3 is also a great because it combines shampoo, body wash & shaving lotion into one which means more space and less weight. Seriously, you can really come up with some great ideas if you sit down and think about it.
So there’s seven tips on How to Pack a Backpack brought to you bye the Happy Camper. Once you’ve packed your backpack, you’ll want to adjust it before heading out. Start by adjusting the shoulder and hip straps since they help support most of the weight. You want these straps to fit snugly without being too tight. It’s also important to adjust the load lifters and sternum strap to help distribute the weight of the backpack and make it as comfortable as possible. Most Important, remember to have fun.
Everyone has thier own little tips and tricks so c’mon, don’t keep them a secret. Tell us your Tips on How to Pack a Backpack Below.
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