Hiking Backpack – Packing Your Essentials Simplified

Hiking backpack organization of all the necessities you need to trek with can have you wondering, where do I put it all? Simple planning and forethought will help get you packed and ready for the trail in no time.  Tossing your stuff into your backpack randomly will have you searching frantically when you need something in a hurry and can make the difference between an uncomfortable hike and a pleasurable one.   Do you really want that frustration?  Let’s start packing with a purpose by using our ABC's. Focus on; Accessibility -  Balance - Condense/Compress.

Hiking Backpack Pockets And Compartments

Hiking bags are designed to help sort and organize your cargo.  Some things you will need during your trek that you’ll want quick access to without stopping, such as water, compass, sunscreen etc.   Other items you won’t be using until you make camp at the end of the day. You should always start by writing a checklist sheet to avoid forgetting anything important.  Once you have done that you can begin by packing from the bottom up and check off each item as you pack it.  After a few trips out, you will automatically remember items and where to pack them. You may want to make changes next trip out if you pack something too heavy in an area that throws your balance off.

What Do I Pack First?

It's always a good idea to line the inside of your backpack with a contractor bag before you begin packing. This first step will allow everything to stay dry for less than a dollar. If you are traveling in a chronically wet area, consider investing in a pack cover, which will add another layer of moisture protection.

Hiking Backpack organization is important to help balance the weight of the load on your back and hips. The bottom of your pack should contain the gear you will use when you finish your hike for the day. Items such as sleeping bag and/or pad, clothing you plan to sleep in, casual shoes to relax in.  Soft and squishy items like these create internal shock absorption within your hiking bag for your back. If you are using a water reservoir/bladder, fill it first, then pack around it with soft items to eliminate shifting. If you attempt to place the bladder bag into your full backpack it will be difficult.  Can you guess how I know this?

Pack Heavy Items In Your Backpack’s Core

Hiking backpack gear such as dinner food (not snacks), cook stove, water bladders or bottles and bear canister should be packed in the core or middle section of your hiking pack.  Place food items or other things that have scent to them inside the bear canister. You may think all heavy items should go at the bottom, like when you pack a grocery bag.  Placing heavier objects in the center helps to create a stable center of gravity directing the weight downward instead of backward to prevent the bag from sagging. If you place these heavier items high in the pack, it will make your backpack lean or tip, throwing balance off.  If you are carrying liquid fuel for your stove, make sure the cap is secure and tight. Pack the bottle upright placing it below your food (in case of spillage) and then wrap soft items, to act as a buffer around the tank, such as extra clothing, your tent body, extra dry bags or rainfly.

Hiking Backpack Items Packed On Top

This is where you place your bulkier necessities.  You may want to place your tent at the very top in case a storm moves in and you need to set up immediately.  With sudden weather changes you will want easy access to a heavier jacket or rainwear. Keep them on top for quick retrieval.  Have your first aid kit readily available and your water purification filter or tablets handy to refill your hydration bottle. This is also where you will want to have your toilet trowel, paper and zip lock bag for used TP.  You never know when you will need these items, but they should be easy to access. 

Placing Accessories On The Exterior

Hiking backpacks often come with reversible side compression straps you can utilize to attach exterior gear. These straps must have rear-facing ends with clips instead of being sewn onto the pack. There must be a male clip and a female clip on opposite sides that you can clasp together. This gives you the ability to attach bulky things like your tent, trekking poles or extra shoes. With your gear loaded at the back end, that leaves the side pockets free for grabbing things you need on the go, such as a water bottle, sunscreen or camera. This is great for utilizing the pockets and compression at the same time. If your hiking pack lacks the amount of loops or rings to hang gear from, you can easily attach additional hooks and pockets as needed being aware of centering your load.

Every trek is different, but after a few times out you can adjust your hiking backpack to suit your needs.  Utilize the basics of heavy to light areas of packing your essentials, the experiment with extra gear and placement until it's comfortable for you.  Happy Hiking!


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