Hiking - Knowledge

How To Pack Your Backpack For A Comfortable Hiking Experience

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Learning how to efficiently pack your hiking backpack can end up making all the difference on your trek. And there does lie a major difference between simply stuffing your backpack and organizing and evenly distributing the items within the bag. With the right type of bag and the correct organization of the items you place inside, you can end up reaping some big rewards while on your journey. Your walk becomes more balanced on the trail, you’ll find that you can access the immediate essentials better, and your backpack will be more comfortable to carry. At the end of the day, it comes down to using the right backpack for hiking, figuring out your backpacking packing list, and learning How to Pack a Backpack efficiently.
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We will help you figure out what you exactly need to prioritize your essential hiking gear and your camping trip packing list, for an overnight hike. But at the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that all these requirements will vary depending on each trekker, their prior hiking or camping experience, and the consequent circumstances. For example, the number of people you go hiking with, the amount of wilderness and civilization in the surrounding area, the number of nights you spend camping, etc., can all influence on understanding how to pack a backpack. A frequent mistake made by beginner level trekkers is overpacking; a habit that can potentially ruin your trip and your physique. So here are some of the basics you’ll need to keep in mind the next time you start packing for your next hiking trip.

how to pack a backpack
Smart packing for hassle free trekking (source)

Tips On How to Pack a Backpack

The following tips is essential and will give you an insight into how to pack a hiking backpack.

  • For maximum stability, always organise your backpack in a way the heaviest gear is centred, the medium weight gear (first aid kit, water, etc)  should be placed at the top, and the lighter items (sleeping bag, clothing, etc) can be placed in the external pockets and hooks of the backpack or at the very bottom of the internal space. 
  • Organising and compartmentalizing your luggage is a crucial segment of your backpacking basics. It helps you checklist all your gear and teaches you how to pack efficiently. Cluster smaller items into zip-locks and bags, which you can even colour code. Store food and liquid fuel in spill-proof bags.
  • Another important part of your backpacking basics is to make sure that all the empty spaces are filled. Certain handy tricks include stuffing your shirt inside a pot, stuffing your sleeping bag sack with essential hiking gear, etc. 
  • Place items like your phone, GPS, bug repellent sprays and headlamps that you may need immediate access to, at the very top of your bag or in your front external pockets. 

The ABC’s of Your Checklist 

Want to know what are the ABC’s of your packing? Well, it is A- Access, B- Balance, C- Compress.

Follow this method and we bet that your backpack will be packed in the best possible way. Make sure to keep all your necessary items accessible. Balance the weight by evenly distributing your essentials. Keep the heavy items (foods and water) midway your back, so that there is less stress on your shoulders. Next is the Compress - squeeze in softer, smaller essentials such as clothing, toiletries in between big items such as the sleeping pad, food, tent, and others. 

how to pack a backpack
Keep heavyweights closer to your back (source)

The best way to figure out your packing checklist is to concentrate on your basic necessities - shelter, clothing, food, and technology. This is one of the most vital steps in understanding how to pack a backpack. Only pack on the basis of what you will need to survive and not on a “what if” basis. So you can start off with the most essential and end with the least essential items of what you’ll need to bring on a camping trip :

1. Shelter

While sleeping under the stars might sound like the ideal situations, it is necessary to carry the best backpacking gear to protect yourself from other elements and insects while on your trip. 

  • An important part of your backpacking gear list should be a sturdy tent or tarp. A one-man mummy tent can also be good for overnight stays. 
  • Carry some insect netting or insect repellent to tackle the bug problems
  • A necessary item on the backpacking packing list is your sleeping pad and an air-inflated patch kit
  • And of course, a sleeping bag 

2. Supplies

Remember to carry with you these supplies as they constitute some of the most essential and best backpacking gear. 

3. Water

Making sure that you have water is way more important than even food on an overnight trek. You can either:

  • Bring along a water purifier, but this can only work if there are abundant water bodies along the trail.
  • Pack bottles or a Camelbak reservoir system.

4. Toiletries

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Headscarf or bandana
  • Toilet paper
  • Biodegradable soap and sanitizer
  • Hand shovel
  • Menstrual supplies

5. Clothing

Your clothing list depends on the season of the region you’d be hiking to and camping on. For colder climates, rather than bulky jackets, you can pack warm and thin layers
Here are some backpacking basics for packing your clothing:

  • Base layers should include light and warm clothes, preferably made of polypropylene. 
  • Mid layers should be your insulating layers; thin fabrics are best recommended.
  • Outer layers should consist of windbreakers and outer pants. 
  • Raincoats and waterproof pants for rainy days.
  • Remember to carry extra socks and gloves
  • It’s also recommended that you carry a hat, sunglasses and wind resistant glove to protect you in sunnier and warmer climates.
  • Always remember to have enough pair of underwear.
hiking essential
Layout for clear and faster packing

Choosing Your Backpack

When you’re hiking, having the right type of backpack can help you gain utmost comfort on the along journey and allow for optimal accessibility. Choosing a lighter and smaller backpack that can hold all your supplies is the ideal choice for your journey. Make sure that it can fit your entire backpacking gear list and plenty of food and water. Here are some easy hacks you can keep in mind when you go in to purchase your hiking backpack:

  • Your backpack’s capacity is measured in litres and most backpacks can hold between 25 to 90 litres. For a day’s hike, your backpack should have an average capacity of 25 to 40 litres and 65 to 90 litres for an overnight trek.
  • Another factor that affects your choice in backpacks and its capacity is the season in which you’re planning to go hiking in. You’ll end up requiring a larger backpack during the winters to carry warm and heavy clothing and abundant food. 
  • A hiking backpack or rucksack is often used on treks for optimum comfort. 

Livingit Tip-
Buy a backpack that has a frame that can support the expected weight of your luggage.

Invest in backpack that can support all your essentials

It’s All In The Fit

Choosing the right kind of backpack for hiking is one of the first steps of the entire process of getting ready for your trip. If you’re wearing one for the first time for hours on end, then you’ll need to pick the right one. While some of the best backpacks for hiking aren’t the cheapest, they are an investment that will reap you several rewards for a prolonged period of time.  When it comes to choosing the right backpacks for hiking and camping, your torso length matters way more than your height. Make sure that your backpack fits according to your torso length and width. This would further give you an idea on how to pack a backpack. 

The fit of your backpack can end up making all the difference when you venture onto your trek. The framing and overall fit of the bag on your back can help influence the capacity at which you can carry all your luggage and the pressure distribution on your shoulders and back. Here are some simple yet effective steps in making sure that the frame size and fit help you gain utmost comfort and support on your trek:

  • Adjust your frame size: The first and foremost thing you’ll need to do it adjust frame size of the backpack to fit the length of your back. By using the frame adjustment system, the waist belt, and the shoulder straps, you should able to identify the right fit for your backpack, in alignment with your physique and structure.
  • Try it out first: Always remember to test the backpack before finalizing on the fit. 

Livingit Tip-
Make sure that 90% of the weight stays on your hips and waist. 

  • Final adjustments: The last pair of straps that need to be attended to are the overhead straps or the “load lifters”. The best way to correctly tighten them is to view them at a 45 to 70-degree angle from the ground to the straps and adjust them accordingly.

 The Right Weight for Your Bag

For a weekend backpacking trips, your bag should ideally weigh around 8 to 10 kgs. One of the key elements in learning how to pack a backpack is understanding the optimal weight you should be carrying on your trek or camping trip. In your camping trip packing list, your tent, sleeping bag, food supplies, cookware, stove and clothing should all sum up to a weight of 9 kgs. Make sure that the weight is equally balanced on each side of the bag. 

Be careful that your backpack’s weight does not exceed more than 25% to 30% of your total body weight. 

  • With internal backpacks: This is the standard backpacking frame type and the items with the most weight have to be centred between the shoulders and your back. This helps to place the weight of the bag on your hips.
  • With external backpacks: These are less common in comparison to internal frame types and are mostly suggested for trail hiking purposes. For such backpacks, the heaviest items should be packed on top and should be close to the hips so that it can help your posture be more upright. 

Summing Up

There are several factors that go into making sure that you know how to pack a backpack for your next hike or camping trip. Elements such as price, size, capacity, durability and additional features go into the decision behind choosing the appropriate backpack for hiking, as it is very vital to purchase a backpack that fits all your needs and requirements. The next step that goes into fulfilling the process of learning how to pack a backpack is to make sure that you have all the amenities you need to survive.

The way you pack your backpack matters so much more than most us realize and hence it is important to not only choose your backpack with care but also remember to pack the right amount so that the weight of your bag doesn’t take away from the wonder and beauty of your travels. 

Happy trekking!

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