Packing your backpack
Packing your backpack
How do I pack my backpack correctly?
The most important thing when packing your backpack is not to take anything you don’t need.
But of course, some things are essential. And so, the following advice page has some helpful tips on how to streamline your packing system, with all your gear packed in the right position.
Have fun packing, and have even more fun getting out there!
Packing right is all about distributing the load evenly
The heaviest part of the load should be close to the body and ideally at shoulder height. That way, the load’s center of gravity and your own center of gravity will be aligned, and the pack will not pull you backwards. Larger backpacks should be packed as follows:
- Sleeping bag, down clothing and other light objects in the bottom compartment.
- Moderately heavy items like clothing can go in the main compartment, towards the outside.
- Heavier gear — tent, food, thick insulation layers — can go in the main compartment, at shoulder height, and as close to your back as possible.
- Small items can be safely stored in the lid compartment, so they are easy to access.
- Try to keep everything compact and have little or no equipment attached to the outside of the pack in order to minimize the effect of strong winds, prevent items getting wet or your pack snagging.
- In general, try to distribute the load evenly across both sides of the pack, especially where side pockets are concerned.
- Using stuff sacks inside the pack is a good way of organizing your gear (but make sure they are not overfilled). Waterproof ones (dry bags) are a great alternative to a rain cover (on the outside of the backpack).
To consider when packing your backpack
When packing your backpack, it’s not just the size of your backpack that dictates how you should pack, but also the route or kind of hike/ trek that you’re going to undertake. So here are a few tips:
We can carry a maximum of 20-25 % of our own bodyweight. The German Armed Forces expects this to be 33 % but their backpacking drills are renowned for being extremely tough. Use the following tips to help you pack for specific tours or routes:
Avoid letting the heaviest part of the load shift downwards while you pack. Otherwise you’ll be pulled backwards, because your pack’s center of gravity is too far from your own. With heavier loads this will soon make it hard to walk, as your body constantly has to work against the weight of the pack. It also results in greater than normal strain on the shoulders. And over tricky terrain, an incorrectly packed backpack can even pose a safety risk.
Moving over easier ground like beginners’ hiking paths or more level trails, you should make sure the heaviest part of the load is packed higher up. Otherwise you’ll be pulled backwards, because your pack’s center of gravity is too far from your own. With heavier loads this will soon make it hard to walk, as your body constantly has to work against the weight of the pack. It also results in greater than normal strain on the shoulders. And over tricky terrain, an incorrectly packed backpack can even pose a safety risk.
Over more challenging terrain, like on high-alpine tours, or when climbing, it’s best to pack the heavier part of the load lower down. This will make you bend forwards somewhat when walking, to counter the weight, but it also makes it harder for you to lose your balance than it would with it higher up. Consider using folding / telescopic trekking poles too.