A backpacking trip is a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors and to truly get away from it all. A good backpack can hold a surprising amount of gear and supplies, if you pack it correctly. You can’t just shove things in and hit the trail – you need to be able to access things when you need them while still conserving and maximizing space. Here are some tips for packing your backpack the right way.
Before You Start Packing
The first thing you need to do when preparing to load up your backpack is to make sure that it is large enough to hold all of your gear and supplies. You want to choose the lightest backpack you can that will hold all of your necessities.
Newer backpacks are made from durable but lightweight materials so, if you’ve been using the same backpack for a decade, it might be time for an upgrade. You also need to think about how long you’ll be gone and whether you can save space and weight by choosing multi-purpose tools and reusing clothes. You should also use a backpack checklist to make sure you have all of the things you’ll need.
Tips for Packing Your Backpack
When packing your backpack, you should know that there are three zones you need to think about inside the backpack as well as outer pockets. The three zones are:
- Bottom Zone – This is where you want to pack your bulky gear and things you won’t need until you stop and set up camp.
- Core Zone – This Is the middle of the pack where you want to store dense, heavy items.
- Top Zone – This is where you want to pack the items you might need to use while you’re out on the trail.
For things you are likely to need frequently and things you want to be able to access quickly, your backpack has accessory pockets on the outside. There are also loops and lash-on points you can use to carry long or oversized items. Here is a list of the items you’ll want to pack in each zone:
- Bottom – Here is where you’ll want to store your sleeping bag and sleeping pad as well as layered clothing you’ll likely be sleeping in (like long underwear). It’s also where you want to pack your camp shoes and other softer items you won’t need on the trail.
- Core – In the middle of your pack you’ll want to store your food and cooking supplies as well as your water, extra clothing, and tent. Think about wrapping softer items like your tent and rainfly around bulkier items to cushion them.
- Top – On the top of your pack you should pack your trail essentials like a rain jacket, fleece, first-aid kit, water filter, and toilet supplies. You can also place smaller items like your map, compass and sunglasses on top if you don’t have enough accessory pockets.
Keep in mind that these are just recommendations – it is up to you how you choose to pack your backpack. You may find that a completely different tactic works better for you.