Backpacker Details Exactly How to Pack a Backpack

Learning to properly pack a backpack is one of those skills that hikers and backpackers tend to pick up over time, often through trial and error. There are certainly some logical approaches to how to balance the load, layer the items you’ll need based on when and where you’ll need to access them, and more. But even if you’ve done it a thousand times, it seems there are still new things to be learned. To help us with this process, Backpacker magazine has published an extremely in-depth and detailed article on exactly how you should pack your backpack for a hiking trip.

As Backpacker is quick to point out, a poorly-loaded pack can really ruin an otherwise great outing. Whether you’re just hiking for a few hours or you’re going on a weeks-long journey on an epic trail, knowing how to fit everything into your pack is an important skill. It will not only allow you to more comfortably carry your gear, it will provide more balance on the trail, keep your legs fresh and less fatigued, and help you to avoid injury too. In other words, knowing how to properly pack a backpack is an important skill that any hiker or long-distance trekker should have.

Of course, any veteran backpacker can give you advice on where to put all of the gear that you’re carrying with you. But in the case of this article, that simply wasn’t enough. Writer Daniel Nelson goes the extra mile by first explaining what all of the different pockets on a modern backpack are used for, which is a handy piece of information that isn’t always shared. He also goes into what the various straps on a pack are used for and how to make them work in your favor. And before he even gets into exactly how to pack your backpack, he offers some tips on how to avoid overpacking first. That is probably the number one thing that new hikers need to learn, because early on you think you need to bring everything. We’ve all been there of course, and it’s only after we’ve had a chance to gain some experience that we understand what is essential and what is unnecessary.

 

Eventually, the article does get to the heart of the matter, with some great advice (and a video!) on how to best get all of the gear you need into you pack. At first it may seem like it won’t all fit, but once you start to get everything into place, you’ll soon discover that your pack can probably hold more than you thought. That doesn’t mean you should fill it to the brim however, but instead use the compression straps to cinch the load down tight.

There is a lot to digest in this article and even seasoned veterans may learn a thing or two. Check it out here before you head out on your next backpacking excursion.