A properly loaded pack can mean the difference between a relaxing hike and a wrenching backache. To get the most out of your backpacking or hiking trip, you cannot just throw all your gear in your pack and go. Correctly packing a bag takes a little planning and extra effort. Follow these few tips on how to load your pack, and your journey will be comfortable enjoyable.
Place Heavy Items On The Bottom
Load your pack so that it works with your body’s natural center of gravity. Heavy items need to be placed at the bottom and back of your pack. If you have heavy cooking equipment, place these items at the bottom. Canned goods or dense food stuffs should also be placed in the lower section of your pack. If you are going on a long camping or hiking trip, the arrangement of your pack will change. As you use up food and other supplies, your pack will get lighter. Make sure that you continue to place the heavy items at the bottom of your pack.
Filling The Rest Of Your Pack
In the middle of your pack, place your medium weight gear. This will vary depending on the kind of trip you are taking. Clothes, your travel pillow (if you use one), and any other light and soft items should go in your pack next, preferably close to your back. This will give you a little extra comfort on your hike. Placing the lighter items higher up in your pack will help keep your gravity centered. If you put heavy items at the top of the pack, you would not just be placing strain on your neck, back, and shoulders. You will also be increasing your chance of injury. If you place heavy items in the top of the pack and you stumble, those heavy items will pull you backwards and down. Keep your feet on the trail by making sure your pack is loaded correctly.
Prepare For Emergencies
All your emergency supplies need to be immediately accessible. Some packs have side pockets, and you could put your gps, first aid kit, and cell phone there. If your pack is not divided into compartments, keep your emergency gear towards the top of your pack. Some hikers use water-proof nylon sacks to keep all their emergency gear together. If one of your fellow hikers gets a snake-bite, you do not want to be wasting valuable time digging through your pack to find first aid supplies.
Smart Packing Can Make Your Hike More Enjoyable
There are a few pieces of gear you should keep on top of your pack to make your hiking trip more enjoyable in the case of an inconvenience. Keep a flashlight or other light source handy in case you ever need to set up camp in the dark. A poncho or other rain gear should also be in an easily accessible part of your bag.
Although you should place your heavy food items at the bottom of your pack, keep some snacks easily accessible. You need to keep your energy level up while hiking. Keep some trail mix or other high-energy snack in the top section of your bag. That way, if you feel yourself starting to get tired or hungry, you can grab a bite without losing a lot of time.
Make Sure Your Bag Fits Properly
No matter how well packed your bag is, if your pack does not fit you properly, you will still be uncomfortable on your journey. Your hips, not your actual back, should carry the weight of your load. To make sure that your pack has the best possible fit, consider having a fitting done at a outdoor gear store. Usually, these fittings are free if you purchase your pack from them. If you bought your pack online or have an older pack that you want fitted, go ahead and ask a local retailer. They might be willing to fit you for a small charge or might even do it for free if you make a small purchase from their store.
Follow these tips, and your next hiking trip will be both as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.