Packing Your Backpack
A well-packed backpack feels balanced and stable while carrying, akin to an extension of your upper body. Most of the weight should be resting on your hips and as you walk, the items inside the backpack remain in place. A well-packed backpack feels more comfortable while carrying it for extended periods.
After laying out all the items for packing, consider the weight, shape and how often or when you will need to use the items. Next, consider the kind of backpack you are bringing. We will illustrate using a top loaded backpack as example as most large backpacks today have this design.
Top Middle Bottom Packing
Separate the backpack into 3 different sectors. The top, middle and bottom. As mentioned previously, the main disadvantage of a top loaded design backpack is the inconvenience of retrieving items at the bottom. Hence, the bottom section should ideally be for items which you need the least access to till you reach the campsite. Items such as your sleeping bag, warm sleeping clothing and other non-essentials.
The middle of the backpack should be for your heavy or bulky items. The bag will feel more balanced when heavy items are rested in the middle of the backpack near to the frame. Pack the bulky or heavy items in first and have the smaller items go around it. This helps to keep the items in place, preventing it from shifting around inside the backpack. Usually, items like tent, food and water supplies and cooking equipment like gas stoves and gas cartridges goes into the middle of the backpack.
The top section of the backpack should be reserved for items which you need quick access to while hiking. Bigger items such as first aid kit, rain jacket, and on-the-go lunches goes to the top of the main compartment. Smaller items which require frequent access can go into the zips pockets of the backpack lid. Items like sunblock, insect repellent, headlamp, mobile phones, toilet paper, personal medication and pocket knife.
It’s More Than Just Packing
Packing a backpack is like an art. When I first started hiking, I didn’t pack my backpack well and often get criticised by my hiking mates for it. My bag often ended up in a funny shape, like some items are sticking out from the inside. I learnt from my hiking mates and overtime, my packing has improved. Nowadays, whenever I pack a bag well and carry them over my shoulders, I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride. I think it is a hikers pride to have a nicely shaped backpack on your shoulders.
Do you feel the same way too?
Picture Credit: Alan Levine Flickr. Creative Commons License