How to fill a hiking pack

When heading out on a hike, never underestimate the importance of pack organisation. It can affect your centre of balance, comfort and back health if wearing for extended periods. Use this ‘how to fill a hiking pack’ guide to ensure you’re packing smart to get the most out of any adventure.

Firstly, make a checklist of all the items that you want to take with you (using the Gear Lists feature of the Mountain Designs App will help with this!). Collect those articles and spread them on the floor in front of you. Identify items that will require quick access afterwards (map, flashlight, water bottle, etc.), as they belong in easy to reach areas like external pockets. Then start packing by the following rule of thumb:

  1. Light items at the bottom
  2. Heavy items at the back
  3. Medium items (or bulky equipment) at the top and front

Packing that way will put the heaviest items close to your centre of gravity (your back) and make it easy to keep your balance afterwards.

Hike Light

Keep your pack as light as possible. I’ve hiked with a range of pack sizes carrying a range of heavy packs and light ones, and I’m convinced that carrying a heavy pack takes a harder toll on me physically than carrying a light pack twice as far.

During Packing

  • Use smooth items to cushion cornered objects that might otherwise pinch against your spine
  • Partly filled stuff sacks can be squeezed into gaps (when differently coloured, they can help you find things and stay organised
  • Protect delicate items by packing them inside hard objects (pots, shoes)
  • Don’t pack food underneath containers that might spill (liquids, powders)
  • Pay attention to even weight distribution between the right and left sides
  • Keep your pack organized and put items back where you expect to find them
  • Repackage to reduce weight
  • Pour liquids into smaller containers
  • Don’t bring the whole plastic-wrapped box of 12 energy bars when you’ll only eat 2 and need one more just in case.

Keep your gear dry

Water is critical for staying alive, but it is also deadly when mixed with cold or saturates your gear on the trail. Put items in zip-lock bags, sleeping bag and clothes in waterproof stuff sacks. Carry and use rain-gear.

Contributed by: Mountain Designs

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