Throwing all your gear into your pack and heading off isn’t the best practice for a comfy hiking experience. The way in which you pack your backpacking backpack will make a huge difference to how it feels on your back.
If you’ve never gone backpacking overnight before or haven’t done it in a while these simple and easy to follow guidelines really will make your trek more enjoyable.
First things first, lay out all your backpacking gear on the floor and organize it into piles. For example, cookware, toiletries, backpacking first aid kit, clothing, sleeping gear, food and anything else you are bringing along with you.
I highly recommend using zip lock bags or resealable bags that you can suck out all the air from. They help to save space and protect your gear from moisture, plus they really do help to keep your gear organized in your backpack.
Anything that you want easy and quick access to, especially while you are hiking should be placed in pockets that you can reach with your backpack on your back or in easy to reach spots of your pack.
Secondly, pack your lightest gear at the bottom of your backpack. If your backpack is designed with a bottom compartment for your sleeping bag then use it. If not then stuff your sleeping bag into the very bottom of your backpack. If you’re bringing along a pillow put that in next and any other really lightweight items.
The heaviest items in your gear should be placed closest to your back, preferably between your shoulder blades.
If you place too much weight in your hiking backpack or do not pack the weight properly you may experience pain and discomfort in your back, neck and or shoulders.
So how much weight should you take with you? The rule of thumb is 25-30% of your ideal body weight. Naturally a very fit and experienced hiker may be able to take more weight whereas a less experienced and less fit hiker should consider packing less weight with them.
Third, make sure to tighten all your compression straps. This will help to keep your gear in place without shifting and causing you hiking discomfort.
Last but not least, after you have your hiking backpack on your back, make sure to tighten your shoulder, hip and sternum straps.
A well packed backpacking backpack should transfer the weight of your gear to your hip belt and minimize the weight from your shoulders.
If you pack your backpack well your hiking trip will feel much better, you won’t have an achy back, shoulders and neck when you arrive at your destination. Because your gear may shift a bit during your hike it is important to take the time to adjust your straps as you are hiking for the most comfortable hike you can get.