How To Pack A Backpack

Rick McCharles over at Best Hike has put together a great little tutorial video on how to pack a backpack, and with all of his experience trekking, he ought to know. Rick has some excellent tips that can be of benefit to just about anyone, no matter if you’re traveling with a backpack for the first time or you’re an old pro.

I’m also happy that I had a small contribution to Rick’s packing process. Some time back, in a passing conversation, I mentioned that he could create a “frame” of sorts for his backpack of choice, the Granite Gear Virga, by using his Therm-A-Rest pad to give the pack some structure. The Virga is an ultralight pack that doesn’t use a frame of any kind, which has its benefits in weight gains, but can have some drawbacks in other areas. I was happy to see that my suggestion was paying off.

Thanks for the tips Rick! Good stuff as always! 🙂

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “How To Pack A Backpack”

  1. Video is well made but lacks something that is actually teaching that packing way very badly. So to me that video is pointless.

    People have to ask themselves: where's the food ? The video only shows like 1 day of food. So how to pack if 10 or 30 days of food ?

    Ok, we all understand how to pack: nice to have soft stuff on the back as protection and all sleeping gear and tent must be far inside as we don't need them during the day, right ? well that's what the video shows. It also shows that things you might need during the day are on the top.

    If you have lets say very light food per day, you can go down to only 500 gram per day, 20 days of food ? make it 10 kg of food. Where do you put that ? That's what the video is not showing.

    My opinion and experience (I'm not telling it's the best, but it worked):
    1) all food is heavy and compact : bottom of sack. If in the middle or upper part, it will go down or maybe move but certainly will make a bad balance.
    2) sleeping bag and tent are maybe used once par day but in case of emergency (heavy rain, dark…) you wanna get quickly to it. These 2 items are usually the bulkiest and lightest. I put them outside the pack on the sides or inside on the top: 2 items to get out and you can access several other items. And they're big enough not to be lost unless you are on a big mountain in a 50 degree slope on ice.
    For the rest follow the video.

    My conclusion:
    and order to put stuff in the sack:
    1) food, cooking, gas canister
    2) vertically poles of tent, toilet, tools, pot with food for the night/morning inside.
    3) in the spaces: socks, rest of clothes + push hard to make all of it compact (the less it moves, the less friction and energy loss while walking)
    4) sleeping bag and tent.
    5) snacks, maps, camera
    6) raincoat to be first out and to protect electronics on the top (big DSLR of HD video)

    In tasmania, I had 40 days of food, the trip lasted 49 days. No ressupplies. backpack is 55liter and clipped a 55l drybag containing 7+ kg of 40 dehydrated 2serve packs. Total weight +- 49kg :

    Maybe a 100l backpack would have been better, but at the end having only a streamlined 55l backpack was nice to go thr the dense vegetation.

  2. i think the video was informative and more for the benefit of beginning hikers/backpackers? i did think the use of the ridge rest was a smart idea ( go kraig)
    as far as carrying 2 or 3 weeks or more worth of food… fastpackers, people who through hike the AT, PCT would NEVER do that? ( not to my knowledge)?? how insanely heavy would your pack be? I live near the trail town of Damascus, VA the AT goes through there, and it's been my experience that people the through hiking the AT go off the trail from town to town to resupply food, wash clothes etc then jump back on the trail. also they have these things called "bump boxes" they mail food items, extra gear etc further down the trail so they don't have to carry it on their back and have a lighter pack.
    but I guess that isn't hard core mountaineering or whatever:oP

  3. That's it exactly Jenn. Yes, it is more aimed at beginners and fastpackers, and for that purpose, the video does a great job. Not many people are out traveling in the wilderness for 40+ days unsupported and without resupply. Most are headed out on a trail for a few days, maybe a week, and this definitely helps those types of hikers.

    Lou-Phi your tips are great as well, but for an entirely different audience. You have insights into expeditions that most only dream of, and your approach is naturally very different. Perhaps we can learn a few things from both sets of tips and find what works best for ourselves.

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