Trying to fit days worth of gear into a pack can be challenging. Take a few minutes to learn how to pack your backpack and make your next hiking or camping trip a breeze!
These tips will not only help you organize your gear before packing, but they will also help you remove some unnecessary items (because you’re camping, duh!) and eliminate things that tend to be forgotten in the packing process.
Listen up, backpackers! Here’s all you need to know about packing a camping backpack efficiently.
Organizing Your Backpack: The Key to Being a Happy Camper
When it comes to packing a backpack, organization is key. Did you get that? O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-A-T-I-O-N. Assuming you have the right size pack for your trip, you should begin your packing by laying out everything you plan to bring so you can clearly see what you have. Laying out your gear allows you to bring the items you know you are going to need, as well as purge items you probably won’t use. Good decision making is a key ingredient here because you can’t possibly bring everything; there’s only so much room in your pack. A common mistake backpackers make when packing for their trip is just throwing things in their pack as they go. This often results in either not having enough space or forgetting certain items. So, stay organized and you’ll be in the clear for a stress-free packing palooza.
6 Backpacking Tips for a Successful Hiking or Camping Trip:
- Reconsider What You’ll Actually Need
Cut the clothing you’re planning on bringing in half. That’s right, we said in half. Because what’s camping without a little roughing it? You’re going to be living it up in the great outdoors, you don’t need an entire wardrobe. Stick with baselayers and items that are versatile, moisture-wicking, and breathable, but also provide a little warmth (especially if you’re going when it’s cooler). When you’re packing your clothes, make sure you roll them, don’t fold them. Rolling them not only saves space but also leaves your clothes wrinkle-free!
- Consider Compression
Use compression sacks whenever you can to slim down items that are otherwise puffy, bulky, or take up a lot of space, like sleeping bags. Most sleeping bags come in a nylon compression sack, a stuff sack, and/or a mesh storage bag. Compression sacks allow you to shrink an item to less than half its original size, which saves you space in your pack. Likewise, stuff sacks will also allow you to shrink an item, but not as much as a compression sack. If you’re going on a longer trip and need to pack some clothes (don’t forget to cut your original pile in half), you can also put them in a compression sack to save some space. They also provide water protection in case of a downpour, which is an added bonus.
- Big Items First
Make sure you’re packing your big items first. There’s nothing worse than trying to reach for some snacks or a bandage and having to dig past a hefty sleeping bag or a tent. Put the items you are going to need at your final destination at the bottom (i.e. a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad etc.) so you can quickly and easily find the items you’ll need along the trail.
- Survival Items Last
Survival items, such as a first aid kit, headlamp, rainwear, hydration necessities, and snacks at the top of your pack or in outer pockets so they are easily accessible while you’re trekking the trail.
- Deflate Packages
You know when you buy a bag of chips and you’re so excited to start snacking so you pop open the bag only to find that it’s half air, half chips? Air takes up a lot of space in that bag and considering you’re going to be packing your backpack full of gear, you don’t have the space to spare for that air. We suggest popping these types of bags and packaging with a pin and taping the hole shut so you can save some space.
- Outer Pack
If you’re running out of room inside your pack, you can always move to the outside (if you have the right size pack you shouldn’t need to do this). Attach lighter items to the front of your pack with carabiners, but be mindful of balance so you don’t end up with a backache 15 minutes in. You can also sacrifice awkwardly shaped items like tent poles, trekking poles, and sleeping pads and attach them to the outer loops of your pack to save you some room on the inside.
Remember, organization is key when it comes to packing a backpack. So stay organized, plan ahead, get ready to make some decisions, and say goodbye to the hair-pulling frustrations of packing--there’s a new backpacker in town.