Pro tip: A full hiking backpack should not weigh more than about 20% of your body weight, while a daypack should not weigh more than about 10%…
There’s no doubt that a hike is made more enjoyable when you have a well-organised backpack that carries your essentials efficiently. Properly packing your hiking backpack can make a significant difference in your comfort and overall experience on the trail. Here are some tips on how to do it better:
1. Choose the Right Backpack
Before diving into the packing process, it’s essential to start with the right pack for the job. Ensure your backpack is appropriate for the type and duration of your hike. Daypacks, like the 20-30 litre range, are ideal for day hikes, while multi-day hikes may require larger backpacks up to 65l.
2. Make a Checklist
The next step is to create a checklist of the items you’ll need for your hike. These checklists depend on the type of hike (duration and location) and pros refine theirs over many years. This list should include essentials like clothing, food, water, navigation tools, first aid supplies and any other items specific to your trip.
3. Distribute Weight Evenly
When packing, aim for an even distribution of weight. Place heavier items closer to your back, centred and low in the pack. Lighter items can fill the remaining space and go towards the top. Start with your tent, clothing and heavier food items.
4. Start with the Core Essentials:
Begin by packing your core essentials at the bottom of your pack. These include your sleeping bag (if applicable), extra clothing and your shelter (tent or tarp). Use a waterproof stuff sack for your sleeping bag to keep it dry.
5. Organise Smaller Items:
Place smaller, frequently used items like your headlamp, first aid kit, and snacks in the top lid or pockets of your backpack for easy access. Ensure that your essentials are within reach without having to rummage through the entire pack.
6. Hydration System:
If your pack has a hydration sleeve, insert your water reservoir or bottles there. Staying hydrated is crucial, so make sure it’s easily accessible. Most backpacks have a separate compartment for this purpose.
7. Food Placement:
Pack your food items in a sturdy, sealed container or ziplock bags. Place these in the middle of your backpack to maintain balance and prevent your food from being crushed.
8. Organise Clothing:
Roll or fold your clothing items and place them around the core essentials, creating a cushion between your gear and your back. Consider packing extra layers, as weather conditions can change rapidly on the trail.
9. Secure Tent and Sleeping Pad:
Strap your tent and sleeping pad to the exterior of your backpack if there’s no room inside. Most backpacks have attachment points or straps for this purpose.
10. Load Your Backpack Carefully:
When loading your backpack, remember to adjust the straps to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. The hip belt should sit on your hips, taking most of the weight off your shoulders. Adjust the shoulder straps and sternum straps accordingly.
11. Final Check:
Before hitting the trail, perform a final check to ensure everything is secure and properly packed. Double-check your checklist to ensure you haven’t missed anything important.
Some standard weight considerations for your backpack:
- Day pack: no more than 7kg
- 3-Day Multi-day hike: 10-15kg
- 5 Day Multi-day hike: 15kg-18kg
- More than 5 days: no more than 18kg
A well-organised backpack not only enhances your comfort but also allows you to focus on the beauty of the trail. Learn more about how to get into hiking, here.