Knowing how to pack a backpack for hiking is very important. That way, you will not only carry all the hiking essentials that you need with you, but you will also carry a well-balanced pack. The longer you trek, the heavier the burden on your back seems to become meaning that if the weight is not well distributed on your torso, you will suffer. But that is not all there is to packing a travel pack. There is the little matter of accessing the stuff that you need, when you need them. Do not just stuff your clothes inside the pack and zip it closed. There is a systematic way of packing the items.
Tip Number 1: You need a backpacking checklist
Without a backpacking checklist, you may end up carrying more stuff than you really need. You could also carry less than you need. Here is a sample of what a good checking list should look like:
Water – Water bottle or portable water filter for hiking
Food – Carry enough food, actually carry more for one extra day
First aid box – Gauze, antiseptic wipes, medical tape, safety pins, antihistamine for allergies, an antibacterial balm, pain relief tablets like ibuprofen, manual for first aid and any other thing that might come in helpful.
Clothing – You can pack some for warm weather and others for cold weather. Wicking t-shirt, long sleeved shirt for protecting your arms, a brimmed hat for sun protection, quick drying trousers, wicking underwear are good for warm weather hiking.
For cold weather, carry gloves, fleece vest, pants and jacket, long underwear, long-sleeved t-shirt, balaclava and hat.
Footwear – Walking shoes, hiking boots, sandals, heavy socks (preferably nylon because it does not retain moisture). If your hiking shoes/boots are new, make sure to break them for the trek.
Personal hygiene items – soap, sanitizer, tissue paper, sanitary towels for women, tooth paste, toothbrush, a small towel, wet wipes, ear buds and so on.
Shelter and fire items – Bring a tent if you will need one, a reflective blanket, matches in a waterproof pouch or just bring a lighter.
Illumination – just take a flashlight with you and make sure it is charged full.
Others – You can also take some tools with you. Carry a needle, thread, a multi-purpose knife, a compass, map of the area you will be backpacking or hiking. GPS would also be good if you want.
Bring sunglasses made specifically for hiking to filter out the harmful sun’s rays. Lip balm and sunscreen will also be good for protecting your skin and lips.
Tip Number 2: Lay everything out before you
This will help you cut out the stuff that you do not need. You may also remember a few items that you could have forgotten. If you are a newbie, just believe that you have over-packed and cut the clothing items by half. If you think you have over-carried, you definitely have, so cut out most of the stuff. You are not moving out, you are just taking a short hiking vacation.
Tip Number 3: Pack from the bottom
Start at the bottom and work your way up. If you have any liquids that need to go inside the pack, let them go to the bottom-most compartment so that even if there is an accidental spill, it will not affect most of the other items. However, the best thing is to carry fuel and other liquids outside the pack, that is, in the outer pockets.
If you have a sleeping bag, that should go to the bottom of the pack because it will be the last thing to come out. Then the following morning, it should be the first item to go into your backpack.
If you are using a frontloading backpack, you will not have to worry about what goes where since you can access most of the items easily. What you will be worried about is balancing your pack.
Tip Number 4: How to pack your backpack – middle
The sleeping bag has already taken the bottom-most part. Now, pack the weightier items like your cooking stove, utensils, food and extra water. What you are trying to do here by packing the heavier items in the middle part is to create a center of gravity, for balance. Remember to pack your food above the liquids. If they spill, your food will be safe. You can also pack it away in waterproof pouches.
Tip Number 5: Packing the top
Nothing that is too heavy should be left for the top because it may damage some of the lighter items at the bottom and in the middle. If you have a rainfly or a raincoat, pack it here, a place where you can access it fast in case there is a shower.
Your minimal clothing items will also go to the top because you may need them in a hurry. Your hiking boots will of course be on your feet. For good measure, wrap your clothes with the tent fabric (the body) and stash them in the top.
Keep your trail snacks at the top too. You can reach them easily. Your hat should also go to the top. Your first aid box should go to the middle of the backpack.
Tip Number 6: Maximize on the exterior of the hiking backpack
You cannot really talk about how to pack a backpack for hiking without mentioning the exterior. You can strap your trekking poles, tent frame and sleeping pad rolled in a waterproof pouch outside. Also store your water bottles in the extra pockets. If you remain with a free pocket, stow your fuel there so that if it leaks it will pose no danger to the other items.
Tip Number 7: Pack Items inside each other
If you have bigger pots, pack the smaller ones inside them. Make use of the space in your hiking shoes if they are going into the pack. Just pack as much stuff inside them as you can. For clothing, wear what you can. This is a trick that people use all the time, especially when they do not want to check their luggage.
Tip Number 8: Minimize your backpack’s volume
Pull those compression straps to the maximum length that they will go to. The smaller you can make your backpack the easier it will be to set in the trunk of your car, and the easier it will sit on your back. Make use of the waist and chest straps too. That will help keep the backpack stable on your back.
How to pack a backpack for hiking should not be hard for you if you follow the above tips. However, you can always modify the way you pack your travel backpack because of a few things