Are you planning a backpacking trip? You must be excited! Backpacking is a great way to explore the areas around you without necessarily be confined to a strict schedule. It’s a freeing experience that can really change a person’s outlook on the things going on their life. Whether you’re going backpacking just to have fun or you’re trying to get rid of some “baggage,” you’re going to need to still bring some “baggage” with you.
Packing for a backpacking trip, no matter how long or how little time you plan on spending on the trail, needs to be done right. In some ways, packing your hiking pack is much like packing a suitcase. Though, instead of bringing your work outfit, your extra shoe choices, and a hair-dryer, you’ll be needing to make room for your camping supplies and trail gear.
Here are some tips on getting everything you need into your bag.
Bottom of Your Pack
The bottom of your pack, much like a bottom of a suitcase, should be home to the big items you won’t need to take out every day. If you’re going to be hiking in warmer weather where it may possibly get cold at night, then you can keep your jacket and an extra blanket at the bottom of your bag. You can also leave your camping stuff there, since you won’t need it until the end of the night. Bonus points if you plan on staying at the same campsite for a few nights at a time, since that means you only need to dig out the stuff once in a while. Think: Tent, sleeping pads, back-up emergency supplies, etc.
Middle of Your Pack
The middle of your pack should be the section of your pack where you put heavier items. That’s because this section is the core, where you have the most strength in your back. If you put heavy items too close to the bottom or too close to the top, you’re either going to be too bottom heavy or too top heavy.
This part of your backpack should also include items you don’t want to have to dig out all the time. Items like your cooking ingredients and supplies, shower items, your water purifiers, etc. Keep this stuff in the middle and say hello to your center of gravity; something you’ll need while backpacking.
Top of Your Pack
The top of your pack goes your everyday items. Items that are not too heavy or too complicated to pack. Your clothes, your sandals, your sweater. You should also throw in your rain jacket here, some snacks, your first aid kit (you must have easy access to it), band-aids, hairbrush, deodorant, toilet paper, and other hygienic items.
Pockets and Compartments
Most good backpacks come with lots of pockets and secret compartments for you to store your stuff. These compartments come in handy when you need something quick. Store your handheld GPS device, your smart phone, your compass, your matches, etc. You may also want to keep a tarp near the top in case it starts to downpour. You can also carry your sleeping bag on the outside.
The Actual Packing Part
Even though you got the sections down, it’s not as simple as just throwing everything into your pack. Like a suitcase, packing is essentially an art. You should store certain items wrapped in clothing or thicker items, fold things nicely, and keep things organized. If you are carrying flammable or liquid items, make sure they are stored snugly and securely to prevent leaking. Don’t overstuff your bag, be sure you can carry it, and make sure you can get to your things easily. You don’t want your bag to look like it has exploded every time you need to get something out of it!
Don’t let preparing for your backpacking trip stress you out! Here’s how to pack for it!