Before packing, spread everything you plan to take on the floor in front of you. Leave behind those things you may not really need, and make sure you haven’t forgotten any essentials. If you’re unsure what to take, use one of our trip checklists.
Imagine that your pack is made up of three zones:
- Zone 1 – Put light items, like your sleeping bag, at the bottom.
- Zone 2 – Pack heavy items, such as water, food, climbing gear, tent, etc. closest to your back. Use a sleeping pad or fleece as a buffer between sharp-cornered items and your spine.
- Zone 3 – Place medium-weight or bulkier items toward the top or down the front of the pack.
Your objective is to avoid having a top-heavy pack, which will pull you backwards, or a bottom-heavy pack, which will make you feel like you are being dragged down. Packing heavier items close to your centre of gravity (middle of the back) will keep you balanced and make the load feel more natural.
- Distribute weight evenly between left and right sides.
- Place frequently used items in an easy-to-access place, such as external pockets.
- When hiking on easy terrain, pack heavy items a little higher for better posture.
- On harder terrain, put heavy items lower down for better balance.
- Stuff sacks allow you to quickly pack and unpack your gear and find what you need. The highly organized put each category of items (first aid, kitchen, etc.) in differently coloured bags. Try not to stuff the sacks full, as a little play makes them easier to squeeze into gaps.
- Use your pots as hard metal stuff sacks to protect delicate items.
- Pack your food above your fuel bottle, or place it on the outside.
- Use your compression straps to bring the load closer to your body and keep everything in place.