Going on a hike is great… until our backpack becomes uncomfortable on our shoulders. Every hiker can attest it: feeling your gear moving on your back, or losing balance because of your load can quickly make this wonderful activity painful.
That’s why it’s important to pack your hiking backpack properly. Structuring your gear will go a long way in reducing your discomfort. Imagine your backpack and divide it into four areas: bottom, middle, top and outside pockets.
Lay out all your gear in front of you before filling your backpack. This will give you an overview of everything you’re going to bring and also give you a better idea of how much weight you have to carry. Keep reading to find out how to efficiently pack for your hikes.
Start with the bottom…
Load it with light equipment that you will only use once you get to your camp. Depending on the design of your backpack, this area can be difficult to reach. Even when you have an easy access to it, putting everything back in place is a challenge! Your sleeping bag should be the first item to go in the main pocket because, in addition to being lightweight, it will provide structure to the rest of the packing and can absorb shock. To maximize the capacity of the backpack, you can fill in the gaps with clothes you won’t be wearing that day.
What should go at the BOTTOM of your backpack: Sleeping bag, mattress, pillow, extra clothes
… then the middle.
Keep all the heavy items close to your back. This will help you to maintain a stable center of gravity and will prevent you from losing your balance during the hike. The access to this part of the backpack is easier than the bottom, but you’ll still have to take out some items before you can get to it. Put gear that you will rarely need during the day in this area.
What should go in the MIDDLE of your backpack: Tent, water supply, meal food, climbing gear
Store practical items at the top…
You’ll easily have access to the top of your backpack during your hike. Use this section for everything you’ll need at multiple occasions during the day. Often, the top part, also known as the “brain”, is a zippered pocket separated from the rest of the backpack. If you’re thinking of putting your electronics in there, consider placing them in a small dry bag to protect them. No one is safe from a surprised shower that will leave all their gear soaked.
What should go at the TOP of your backpack: First aid kit, filter, toilet paper, rain jacket, snacks.
… and the essentials even closer.
If your backpack has belt pockets, fill them wisely. Put in them the essentials items you’ll want to use during the day without having to stop. These pockets are very easy to access, so you can grab what’s in them without breaking your walking rhythm or asking your hiking partner for help. The side pockets can also simplify your life by keeping your water bottle accessible at all times.
What should be find at your WAIST: quick snacks, gels, cellphone, sunscreen
Once you’re done filling your backpack, the compression straps will keep everything in place while you’re walking. They will prevent the weight from shifting while also keeping your gear close to your body. Always adjust them AFTER packing your backpack.
Now all you have to do is enjoy the outdoors!