The right way to Pack a Backpacking Pack for a Multi-Day Mountaineering Journey – Bearfoot Idea


Typically a backpacking pack is usually a literal ache within the neck. That’s why it’s important to learn to pack a backpacking pack correctly and evenly distribute the load – so you may hike longer and pain-free.

When you might imagine you may simply shove every part in your pack and name it a day, deliberately packing your pack so the load is balanced, and so the gadgets you want most are simply accessible, could make a giant distinction.

All it takes is somewhat time and follow (and the information on this put up) to study a system that works greatest for you.

There are some greatest practices and normal guidelines that it is best to all the time attempt to stick to each time you load up your pack so it’s simpler in your physique.

So, should you’re new to backpacking or simply wish to brush up in your abilities and backpack in additional consolation, hold scrolling to learn to pack a backpacking pack for a multi-day climbing journey.

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The right way to Pack a Backpacking Pack: Step-by-Step

Even with numerous gear, it’s doable to really feel like you’re carrying a lighter load when you’ve a well-packed bag.

Not solely do you wish to be strategic in the place you place particular gadgets for group, however doing so can really improve your consolation on the path.

I’ve come a great distance in studying the right way to pack a backpack since my first main backpacking expertise on the John Muir Path – are you able to imagine that is what my backpacking pack used to seem like?!

A woman wearing a large backpacking pack on the John Muir Trail. There's a solar panel hanging off the pack
I imply, simply have a look at that pack – it’s big!

A very good rule to observe whenever you pack your backpack for tenting and climbing is to pack in three components: backside, center, and prime.

At all times pack your most light-weight gear within the backside first, stability the load by holding heavy issues within the heart, and stash your necessities for the path on prime.

This fashion the stuff you want are all the time inside attain and don’t require taking off your pack and digging by way of the entire thing.

Under I share my system for the right way to pack a backpacking pack. The checklist of things could also be somewhat completely different than yours, however it ought to function a helpful information whenever you’re organizing in your subsequent journey.

1. Lay out All of Your Backpacking Gear

Since backpacking the JMT, I’ve discovered the right way to shed some weight from my pack, invested in some light-weight backpacking gear, and developed an environment friendly system for packing.

Earlier than beginning with the three components of packing a pack, step one is to put out your entire gear to see should you can minimize something out, then manage your stuff into piles:

  • Shelter/Sleeping
  • Garments
  • Meals
  • Cooking gear
  • Small stuff that you just want quick access to throughout the day

Getting organized earlier than you place every part in your backpack will:

  1. Will let you undergo your backpacking guidelines and be sure you haven’t forgotten something, and
  2. Forestall you from packing further gadgets that you just don’t actually need.

2. Pack Your “Backside of Pack” Gadgets

This part is reserved for stuff you gained’t want till you get to camp. Something huge, cumbersome, and comparatively “squishable” that may be compressed into the underside of your pack goes right here. Consider it because the non-essentials whilst you’re out on the path.

First, I often pack my sleeping bag in a and put that on the very backside. Then I take advantage of free clothes that I gained’t want throughout the day to fill within the gaps on the perimeters, like the bottom layers I sleep in.

Some folks wish to put their garments in a separate sack, however I wish to hold my garments free. By holding my clothes free, I can use particular person gadgets of clothes that I don’t want throughout the day to fill within the gaps.

Tip: If there’s an opportunity of rain in your backpacking journey and also you don’t have a waterproof pack cowl, earlier than you place something in your pack, line your pack with a trash bag and put all of your gadgets contained in the liner to remain dry.

Our Favourite Backside of Pack Gadgets

A woman from behind backpacking in Sequoia National Park. She's wearing a blue backpacking pack with a Kula Cloth hanging off the side
You need your lightest gadgets (like your sleeping bag and pad) on the very backside of your pack

3. Pack Your “Center of Pack” Gadgets

The center part of your pack is designated for heavyweight gadgets. By inserting cumbersome issues within the heart and as near your again as doable, you relieve your again of pointless stress. Plus, it retains issues from shifting misplaced and forcing you to hold an ungainly, uneven load.

We wish to hold our tent towards the highest of the center so it’s straightforward to seize in case you might want to wait out rain. The center part can really feel like a recreation of Tetris since this stuff aren’t squishy like the underside of pack gadgets.

  • & gasoline
  • Meals – typically the heaviest factor in your pack apart from water
  • (centered in your backpack) – stuffing garments and different small gadgets round your bear canister may also help stabilize an awkward-shaped canister and hold it centered.
  • – typically I’ll strap these to the skin of my pack if there isn’t room inside.

Tip: If a bear canister isn’t required, I often like to hold my meals in a stuff sack so it’s contained in a single place (though heavier than a light-weight stuff sack) is an effective choice because it additionally protects your meals towards rodents.

Our Favourite Center of Pack Gadgets

A woman smiles on the Trans-Catalina Trail wearing a backpacking pack
Exterior pockets will be useful for stashing camp sneakers or sandals

4. Pack Your “Prime of Pack” Gadgets

The highest of your backpack consists of the uppermost portion contained in the pack and “the mind” – the half that’s on prime whenever you shut your pack. It’s usually a zippered compartment that may be eliminated and used as a daypack whenever you hike.

Right here’s what I wish to hold on the prime of my pack:

  • – If there’s any probability of rain, you’ll need your rain gear accessible on the prime of your backpack. If it’s 100% sunshine and you recognize it’s not going to rain, you may stuff this round your bear canister. Pack too if there’s a superb probability of rain in your journey.
  • – That is essential to maintain simply accessible so that you’re not digging by way of your pack should you want one thing.
  • Snacks for the path – So long as I’m not in critical bear nation, I often take my meals for the day trip of my bear canister and retailer it on the prime of my pack so it’s straightforward to entry.
  • – So it’s simply accessible when you might want to refill
  • Rest room Package (, Bathroom Paper, , and a Ziploc bag to pack out used bathroom paper)

Tip: If in case you have any electronics, like a , charging cords, telephone, or GPS, retailer these in a . That method, it retains every part organized and also you gained’t have to fret about it getting moist in a storm.

Our Favourite Prime of Pack Gadgets

5. Pack Your Mind/Lid and Hip Belt Gadgets

These are the gadgets I wish to hold within the mind/lid of my backpacking pack for the simplest “grab-and-go” entry:

Hip belt pockets are additionally an ideal place to maintain issues that you really want available like chapstick, easy-access snacks, sun shades, and different small gadgets.

For different miscellaneous gadgets, resolve whether or not you might want to entry them throughout the day. If not, put them nearer to the center and use them to fill in gaps. When you do want them, hold them nearer to the highest.

Tip: I like to recommend backpacking with a private locator beacon and GPS in case of emergency. I hold my on the skin of my pack, hooked up to the entrance shoulder straps, for the simplest entry.

Learn Extra

Backpacking Gear Guides

A woman smiles directly at the camera while holding trekking poles and wearing a backpacking pack. She's on the Mineral King Loop Trail in Sequoia National Park.
Backpacking with my Garmin InReach (older mannequin)

Right here’s a visible breakdown of the right way to pack a backpack for tenting and climbing:

An illustrated graphic for how to pack a backpacking pack

The Finest Strategy to Use Compression Straps

You’ll discover compression straps on the outside of your backpacking pack that can assist you stabilize the pack and modify the load as you want. Be sure that these are free if you end up packing your backpack.

When you’ve stuffed up the backpack, buckle and tighten the compression straps. These hold issues from shifting as you hike and enable you really feel regular whilst you’re trekking over uneven terrain. Be sure you additionally tighten the aspect compression straps to create an much more cosy match and get rid of any empty house in hard-to-pack locations.

Lastly, use the compression strap in your pack’s foremost exterior buckle (which connects the mind to the principle compartment) to maintain these contents compressed and in place as you progress. It can be annoying when it’s free and bumps round as you hike.

A woman wearing a Hyperlite backpacking pack looks up at a red rock canyon while backpacking in Utah
Compression straps are useful for making your load really feel safer

Strapping Gear to the Outdoors of Your Pack

When you’ve ever puzzled, “what are these loops on the edges of my backpack?”, you’re not alone. These loops can be utilized to safe lengthy, stiff, or cumbersome gadgets to your pack, equivalent to , tent poles, or . You’ll be able to even strap your sunhat to your pack for simple entry, and a few backpacking packs actually have a helpful slot for sun shades.

You may see some strings of small loops sewn onto your backpacking pack, often on the straps and the entrance part of your backpack – these are daisy chains. They make it straightforward to clip gear on utilizing small, light-weight carabiners (that is how I carry my for instance).

I additionally wish to hold my Kula Material snapped to the skin of my pack for each day hikes and backpacking journeys.

It’s not a good suggestion to have something heavier/bigger than a baseball cap dangling off of or swinging forwards and backwards in your pack. You will get caught, upset your stability, hit different issues or folks, and normally, it’s simply type of annoying.

Backside line: Maintain issues tightly secured and manageable.

You should utilize gear ties to assist safe something to your pack that may be on the skin should you don’t have many loops to make use of.

If you end up strapping a ton of stuff to the skin of your pack, it is best to do a gear audit and see if there’s something you may go away at house, or it may be time to get an even bigger pack. Counting on strapping extra gear to the skin of your pack can change into problematic if you find yourself in an surprising rainstorm.

A man smiles standing to the side of the camera. He's wearing a backpacking pack and hiking San Jacinto Peak
We like to hold tent poles, a pee rag (for the women), and typically sandals on the skin of our pack

A Be aware on Hydration Reservoirs

I just about all the time use a once I’m day climbing. However once I’m backpacking I discover hydration reservoirs make it far more tough to pack your backpack effectively.

They take up numerous room and in addition should you run out of water, you’ll in all probability need to unpack half your bag simply to refill your reservoir. If I’m solo backpacking (which I not often do), a hydration reservoir is an effective alternative as a result of I can sip as I am going with out having to take off my pack and I don’t have anybody handy me my water.

Nonetheless, if I’m climbing with associates, I wish to carry 3 light-weight, foldable tender water bottles as an alternative. They weigh nothing and pack down very small should you don’t want all three liters. That method, they’re straightforward to entry and refill with filtered water on the path as you go.

You must also you should definitely distribute your water weight evenly onto either side of your backpack.

A woman smiles at the camera while backpacking Sawtooth Pass in Sequoia National Park. She's wearing a red backpacking pack and a Wallaroo Sedona hat
You’ll be able to see one in all my tender water bottles within the aspect pocket of my backpack

Received any questions on the right way to pack a backpacking pack? Or any extra tricks to share? Depart a remark beneath.

Bearfoot Theory | Learn how to properly pack a backpacking pack for maximum comfort, efficiency, and organization so you can enjoy your time on the trail without the pain. We cover what to put where and what all the pockets, compartments, clips, and daisy chains are for, and more. Start backpacking more comfortably with this guide.



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