Backpack and Gear Home

Backpack and Gear's Best Deals

Backpack Destinations


Banff National Park

Travel Backpack

Backpacking Europe

Appalachian Trail Damascus
to Marion VA

Grand Teton National Park

Black Canyon of the
Gunnison National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Zion National Park

Backpack Blog

Backpack Gear

Google Maps

Camping Backpack

Tumi Backpack & Luxury Gear Low Price
Hiking Equipment

Eddie Bauer

Hiking Backpacks

3 Person Backpacking Tent

Bestbuy Photo & GPS

Best Backpack Rucksack

Picnic Backpack


LL Bean Backpacks

Backpack And Gear

Site Build It!

About Me Working From Home

Contact Me

Privacy Policy

Best Backpack Site Search

Backpack and Gear Disclaimer

? Subscribe To This Site

My Yahoo! RSS button
My MSN RSS button

Packing for Backpacking!

Packing for Backpacking: Fit to perfection and well under its maximum weight capacity, even the best backpack on the market, can be uncomfortable if it's not loaded properly!

Packing For Backpacking!
packing for backpacking

Start with the backpack. Your backpack size should strike a balance between being light weight and having the ability to carry everything you need for safety and comfort.

Backpack, packing for backpacking

Upgrading your gear to lighter, smaller items, such as tent and sleeping bag, can help to reduce your backpack and load size. On the largest models, this includes the backpack itself, which, even when empty, can weigh almost 8 pounds.

Tent, packing for backpacking

Packing for Backpacking Strategies

Most of the strategies described here apply to any backpack, while internal frame packs dominate the backpack market today. Check out the external frame pack tips below, if you're a fan of external frame packs.

Internal Frame Pack
Internal Frame Pack, packing for backpacking

Weight Distribution

Centered between your shoulder blades, always put your heaviest items close to your back. Place heavy items a bit higher inside your backpack, for on trail travel. The area of your body best equipped to carry a heavy load, this helps focus more of the weight over your hips.

Place heavy items a bit lower in the main compartment, for off trail travel. This increases your stability on uneven terrain and lowers your center of gravity.

The ultimate judge of comfort is you. To determine what feels best to you, experiment with different load arrangements.

Some examples of item weight:

  • Light weight items - Foam pad, Clothing, Pillow and Sleeping bag.
  • Medium weight items - First aid kit, Canister fuel, Water filter and Stove.
  • Heavy weight items - Liquid fuel, Water, Food and Tent.

Beforehand, lay out all your gear. It can help you to remember missing items plus this makes you more aware of where things get packed. First, stuff your sleeping bag into the bottom of your backpack's main compartment. Sleeping shirt, pillowcase, but nothing aromatic, squeeze in any additional lightweight items you won't need until bedtime.

Lay Out All Your Gear
Lay Out All Your Gear, packing for backpacking

To help you find them easily, gather kitchen items and utensils (related small items) in color coded stuff sacks. Make sure your fuel bottle cap is on tight, if carrying liquid fuel. In case of a spill, pack this below your food. Don't waste any space. Inside your cooking pots, put a small item of clothing. Put items into your bear canister.

With others in your group if desired, split up the weight of large items such as a tent. Where you can easily get to them, keep often used items. This includes your packcover, rain gear, snacks, first aid kit, bug spray, headlamp, sunglasses, sunscreen, GPS, compass and map.

Packcover, packing for backpacking

To limit any load shifting, tighten all compression straps.

Compression Straps
Compression Straps, packing for backpacking

Packing for Backpacking Tips

Use a camera case.
For easy access to your camera, these can be attached to your hipbelt or backpack's shoulder strap. Some include storage pockets for cleaning cloths or memory cards and a built in rain cover; They feature protective padding.

Carry an Outdoor Backpack.
Just about all have vulnerable zippers and seams, though some backpacks are made with waterproof fabric. Persistent rain could make the items inside your backpack much heavier, and wet. Solve this problem with an Outdoor Backpack!

Bring a few repair tools.
In case some disaster occurs or a strap pops, a quick fix could keep you going, wrap strips of duct tape around your trekking poles or water bottles. In case a zipper fails, take along a few safety pins.

Duct Tape
Duct Tape, packing for backpacking

Packing for Backpacking Hydration

Today, most backpacks are hydration compatible. Though the reservoirs themselves are sold separately, this means they are designed to accommodate hydration reservoirs. A small strap on each shoulder strap to route the tube through and exit ports for the tube, this type of backpack typically includes a pocket for the reservoir.

Hydration Compatible Backpack
Hydration Compatible Backpack, packing for backpacking

Many older backpacks are not hydration compatible. Run the tube out of the top of the main compartment and put your hydration reservoir close to your back, for these backpacks. Just below the top lid, alternatively, you can place it near the top of the backpack. This makes it easy to access when refilling and allows gravity to work to your advantage.

Consider putting the reservoir inside a plastic trash bag or waterproof stuff sack before placing it in your backpack, to reduce the chance of leaks soaking your clothes.

Use water bottles is the other tried and true hydration method. Where bottles can be accessed without taking your backpack off, most packs feature water bottle pockets on each side of the bag.

Water Bottles
Water Bottles, packing for backpacking

Packing for Backpacking Bear Canisters

Today, a growing number of wilderness areas and national parks require the use of bear resistant canisters. This has become necessary to head off unwanted bear human encounters and reduce bears' attraction to human food. Via the traditional bear bagging method, the requirement also acknowledges that it's very difficult to successfully hang scented items and food. At the cost of being relatively heavy, bear resistant canisters feature convenience and greater food security.

Bear Canisters
Bear Canisters, packing for backpacking

Be efficient with canister packing: To its maximum capacity, always fill a canister. Any room should be used for scented items such as bug spray and toiletries, that is not occupied by food. Closest to your back, put your canister in the main compartment. Lash the canister under your top lid, if short on space.

Toiletries, packing for backpacking

Packing for Backpacking, Attaching Gear to Your Backpack

The number of items you strap to the outside of your pack should be kept to a minimum. It may adversely affect your balance having gear carried externally. So it doesn't rattle or swing, be sure to secure any equipment you do carry outside.

Lashing tips: An ice axe or trekking poles (pointy items), should be lashed to the outside of your pack. Crampons can be lashed outside as long as you use protective point covers, or carried inside your backpack in a protective case.

Trekking Poles
Trekking Poles, packing for backpacking

Sleeping pads can be lashed outside since they're bulky. Especially for self inflating pads, use a stuff sack to protect against abrasion. With the ends tucked into a pocket at the backpack bottom, tent poles can be lashed vertically behind the compression straps on either side of the backpack.

Sleeping Pads
Sleeping Pads, packing for backpacking

Designed for specific mountaineering gear are ice axe loops and a daisy chain. Don't get so creative that you jeopardize your stability or comfort, but feel free to improvise with them.

A Daisy Chain
A Daisy Chain, packing for backpacking

Packing for Backpacking, Maximum Backpack Weight

Of your ideal body weight, the weight of your loaded pack shouldn't exceed twenty five percent to thirty percent. While novices should generally start with less, some experienced hikers may be able to carry more.

Loaded Pack
Loaded Pack, packing for backpacking

The amount you are able to carry are influenced by the fit and quality of your backpack. Due to poor design or fit, a backpack that does not effectively transfer weight to your hipbelt puts more weight on your shoulders. The maximum amount of weight you carry should be reduced to fifteen percent or less of your body weight, with these backpacks.

The more weight it is designed to carry, the heavier a pack is when empty.

Its fit is the most important consideration of any backpack.

Packing for Backpacking, External Frame Backpacks

External frame backpacks still have their fans, but this once popular style of backpacks has become something of a niche item over the years. Some tips: Externals are for on trail travel only. Load heavier items close to your body and high inside your backpack. Doing so helps you walk in a more upright position and centers the backpack's weight over your hips.

External Frame Backpack
External Frame Backpack, packing for backpacking

In its stuff sack, pack your sleeping bag. Strap the bag to the lash points on the bottom of the packbag, after finishing packing a backpack. Consider wrapping it in plastic or stuffing your sleeping bag inside a second stuff sack, if rain seems likely.

Sleeping Bag
Sleeping Bag, packing for backpacking

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.