How to Pack a Backpacking Backpack – The Proper Way
December 2, 2019

One of the first problems a new backpacker faces is how to pack a backpacking backpack in a way that is both comfortable and useful.

It’s important to remember that backpacking is not the same thing as traveling, and it’s crucial to have items that can be immediately accessed. It could literally make the difference between life and death in some situations.

Think packing your bear spray at the bottom of your bag – a bear won’t wait for you to finish rummaging through your possessions. Neither will a flashlight materialize itself from underneath your sleeping bag if you fall into a cavern. It does sound extreme, but you could never be too careful while backpacking.

What You Must Consider
When Packing a Backpacking Backpack

Weight must be distributed equally

The first step is to make sure that you set out the items by weight. Remember to put the weight on the backpack where it needs to be. You are going to be experiencing a lot of aches and pains if the items are not distributed correctly.

  • The heaviest items will need to go in the backpack first. They should be placed in the center of your shoulder blades and close to your back.
  • Medium gear will be in the middle of the backpack that is filling the excess space.
  • Light gear will be inserted last in the space above or in the pockets (depending on the priority of the items).
  • Remember to use the brain, the pockets, and the special accessories (don’t try to shove your sleeping bag or your tent in the backpack).

Light gear

  • Lightweight clothing
  • Medicine
  • Flashlight
  • Sunscreen

Medium gear

The medium gear will be the items that you are going to use the most.

  • Sleeping bag
  • Towels
  • Food supplies

Heavy gear

  • Electronics
  • Tent
  • Camping supplies
    • Stove
    • Pan
    • Tent accessories.

Use the Backpack’s Brain

The second step is to make sure that you use the brain of the backpack. This is going to be the zippered pocket that is at the top of your backpack.

The brain allows you to keep everything that you need quick access to while you are using the backpack. These things are going to include:

  • Snacks
  • A headlamp
  • Sunscreen
  • GPS
  • An extra layer of clothing. 

Having quick access to your necessities is going to help you save a lot of time in the long run.

 Keep Smaller Items Together

The third step on how to pack a backpacking backpack is to make sure that you keep all of your smaller things together. This is when it will be a good idea to invest in some Ziploc bags.

You can put all of your silverware in one bag, snacks in one bag, and then the toiletries in another bag. Therefore, you are not going to have to dig through your backpack for a long period of time just to find some silverware in order to eat.

In addition, you will be able to throw away the variety of different containers or bottles that you are not going to want inside of your backpack. Basically, you can just put the toothpaste, foot powder, and sunscreen into the plastic Ziploc bags and have easy access for various activities.

Always Use the Ornaments

The fourth step on how to pack a backpack is to say yes to using the ornaments on your backpack. You have to think about the fact that not everything is going to fit inside your backpack.

Most of the time, the tents are going to be very awkward in shape along with your hiking poles, so your backpack needs to be equipped to handle this. You don’t want your gear awkwardly dangling from the backpack when you are trying to climb a steeper incline, but you also don’t want it protruding your back.

It is a good idea to attach the tent to the bottom of the backpack horizontally so that you can use the side straps to lock the poles down vertically.

It might also be a good idea to attach the external gear in the direction that will help to maintain the integrity of the shape of your backpack. You have to think about the fact that anything that is dangling from your backpack is going to hit each person, shrub, or tree as you go down the trail.

Remember that you are going to want to stay balanced when you are hiking a trail for a long time.