It’s every trekking newbies’ misery to pack a lot of things on one’s backpack before going for camping. I, myself, still really don’t know how to properly pack my things up which results on imbalance of load and will suffer the strain at my back from carrying a heavy backpack.
Have a checklist of your needs
Always know the number of days of your trip because this will be your main basis of all your necessities. Some of your needs:
- Shelter (Tents, hammocks, etc)
- Weather-related stuffs
Also, know the mountain you are going and what to expect along the trail. You might need tools like ropes, gloves, etcetera or not.
Review your checklist!
Be cruel to be kind! Review your checklist and assess if you really need those stuffs. Check the weather if you need a jacket or not. You might be bringing a bulky fleece when it is summer. It would just eat up the space of your bag! And you end up not using it! Lol!
Also, always choose minimal stuffs. Hygiene stuffs like deodorants, soap or shampoo (if necessary) should be on sachets. In addition, it is recommended to bring mouthwash or dental floss instead of toothbrush and toothpaste that can waste water for gargling and we don’t want to run out of water at the mountains!
Pack from bottom up
When packing, you have to arrange your stuffs based on priority and necessity so that if you do need to find things, you don’t need to delve down really deep. The low priority (use it for later time) will be place at the bottom of the bag then the high ones will be on top. This is to have an easy access on stuffs whenever you need it while on the road like scarfs, maybe some of trail foods and more. Also, it is really necessary to keep your pack weight low and centered. You could always split your pack into two (top and bottom) or into three sections (Bottom, Middle, and Top).
Frequently, what is placed in the bottom are the least priority stuffs. Least priority doesn’t mean it is not necessary, it simply means those stuffs will be used at a later time on the course of your journey.
Some of these are sleeping bags, tents, etc that are medium weight.
Middle of the bag should be the medium and heavy weight items. Heavy weight items are to be placed in the portion where the backpack strap is, so that the weight will be aligned to your body’s center of mass and would not strain your back. It would be better to place some of the food inside the cook set, since it is empty and could eat up some space. Deflate your dry food packages if possible with a pin and cover the hole with tape. You can also place the bladder (if you have one) nearest to your body or in the bladder pouch of your backpack.
Usually the high priority stuffs are placed on top.
It is also better to plan the clothes you will wear for a certain day so you would arrange it in order. Pick base layers that can provide both breathability and warmth. Swiss Roll your shirts and included undies and socks to save up more space, don’t fold (or better yet, use a compression sack). Compression sacks are also your best friend for slimming down puffy items like sleeping bags.
Look at the amount of clothing you plan to bring, then cut it in half. It’s not a wilderness experience otherwise!
The lid should contain your essentials since this is the easiest to access. Put survival items here for fast emergency access.
Refer to the image for you to understand better:
- Attach lighter items to the front of your pack with carabiners, taking care to balance out each side.
- Use external loops and straps to secure awkwardly shaped items like tent poles and sleeping pads.
- Shells and outerwear can be stuffed in the front and side pockets.
- Always pack to the corners! This is crucial here as you’ll be surprised how much extra space you’ll have if you get things squashed into the deep corners.
Don’t pack at the 11th hour
As much as possible, do pack days before your trek for a minor trek and maybe a week before for a major trek. This will give you grace period to think of stuffs that you think are needed but were not included! You don’t want to drain your phone’s battery when you left your power bank, of course!
Try carrying your bag
After packing up, try to carry your bag if you are good with the weight or not. If not, try to assess the things inside and eliminate those things that are least needed. It’s good to be comfortable having a load you can handle during your trip, else, it’s gonna be a painful journey! Recommended MAXIMUM load is 1/3 of your weight. So if your 59 kgs divided by 3, that’s 19.67 kgs but that’s too heavy for me and I’m not superman! Always keep in mind that the load you’ll carry depends on your body’s strength. Make your bag as light as you can. The lighter, the better.
Expect the unexpected. Even if it’s a sunny day, Mr. Sun might cry at any minute and you don’t want you and your stuffs to get soaked up! Unless you intended to dance with the rain, that would be fine! But practically, one should always waterproof all stuffs inside your bag.
Some bags are water-resistant and waterproof so you would at least mind some ziplocks for your gadgets. But for those who don’t have one, you can always have at least a trash bag wrap your things inside the bag. Rain covers can help but water can still get inside from the opening at the side and gradually wet your stuffs.
Also, it is also recommended to bring and use raincoat when raining instead of umbrellas. As much as possible, we should be hands-free so that we can trek properly, especially when trails need both hands to climb.
Managing your used stuffs
When you get soaked up with sweat and you need to change clothes, you need to have a separate plastic bag intended for your used stuff so that it would not mix up with your other things and would prevent scattering of unlikely smell in your bag.
Every climb is a learning experience, according to the Wandering Soul Scamper. You might want to take note on those stuffs that you brought during your trek that you were not able to use, and include it into your considerations for your next adventure. You might learn that you needed some stuff and yet you have not brought it. He also mentioned to always consider ourselves as a newbie for us to be open to learning!
So, take a bit your time, use these few tips and modify it if you want. Make sure you go away with everything you need, keeping all the irrelevant stuffs at home.
Moving forward, a dry run for this before your travels is recommended. Once it’s full and feeling a bit heavy, put it on. So there you have it, that’s how to pack a backpack. Good luck.
It’s been an honor to collaborate with the Wandering Soul Scamper. Stay tuned for more collabs!