When you first start backpacking, it takes a little practice to figure out the best way to pack your gear into your backpack. Here are some good tips to keep in mind for how to get organized, how maximize your hiking time, and keep your pack lightweight and comfortable.
- Document your load! Once you have a list of what you carry and the weight of each item, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what to bring and what not to bring or replace. You also won’t forget important items at home.
2. Always pack your gear the same way. This will save you time packing, setting/breaking camp, and help prevent you from loosing things.
3. Don’t try to store bulky gear inside your pack. Strap it on to the outside instead using the side compression straps or cord and a few cord locks that you rig up to the pack’s external attachment points.
4. Everything doesn’t have to be in a stuff sack. Some items like a tent body or rain gear will pack better if they’re crammed into the bottom of your backpack or used to fill in voids between round stuff sacks.
5. Line your backpack with an inexpensive plastic trash bag for waterproof protection. It’s lighter weight and less of a nuisance than using a pack cover.
6. Keep things grouped by frequency of use, not by category. If you’re using moleskin at every stop, don’t keep it with your other first aid equipment. Keep it in your hip belt pockets with your pocket knife and sunscreen.
7. Pack your sleeping bag at the bottom of the pack, medium weight items on top of the sleeping bag, heavy items close to your spine, lighter items on the top and at the perimeters.
8. On longer trips, keep a second, smaller stuff sack for food you want to eat for lunch and snacks during the day. At the start of each day, pack this smaller stuff sack and stash it someplace easily accessible. This leads to much less packing/unpacking during prime walking hours.
9. Match your trip gear and clothing to the temperature, wind, and precipitation conditions expected so you don’t pack and carry more than you need.
10. Find multiple uses for common items to save weight. A head net can be a stuff sack for clothing; a rain jacket is also a warmth layer; trekking sticks become tent poles. Be creative and save weight.