Thursday, June 17, 2010

[How to] Pack a Backpack

Packing a backpack is more art than science but there are some helpful guidelines that should be followed to create a stable, comfortable pack.

  • Try to pack things inside the pack
  • Items outside the pack are less stable and have a greater tendency to sway back and forth as well as come loose. Sharp objects like trekking poles, or technical climbing gear can be placed outside the pack for safety.

  • Try to put the heaviest item in the middle of the pack against the backplate
  • The majority of the weight should be in the center of the pack and close to your back. This stabilizes the pack, prevents it from pulling in any one direction or worst of all, away from you. You want your center of gravity close to you. Even a 50lb pack should be stable if packed right.

  • Pack commonly used items on top or in panel pockets
  • Weatherproof equipment should be packed near the top or the outside, since you don't want to have to open up your pack in a storm exposing the contents. Also keep trail food, water filtration equipment, as well as first aid/emergency gear accessable. Sleeping bags and mats should be packed deeper in the bag since those won't come out until the tent is already up.

  • Stuff it in, don't roll it.
  • Rolling actually just creates pockets of air, stuffing equipment is preferable as it balances the weight of each item and fills space most efficiently. It also saves time.

  • Break up "packages" and distribute
  • Most tents have multiple components: poles, stakes, the breathable interior layer, and the waterproof rain fly. Break up these components in an organized way so that their individual weight can be distributed. On several occasions I have even had others carry poles and stakes to distribute the weight between people. First Aid kits should not be broken up.

For more tips, information, and guides visit the how-to center.

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