A Simple Guide to Learn How to Pack a Hiking Backpack

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By: Sonia Zannoni

If you are planning to go for a long hike, then you will have to pack all the essentials. Instead of doing it all in a hurry, it is better first to think and list down all the things that you will be needing and then put it all in your bag. 

Even though packing a hiking backpack is no big deal, if it is not done the right way, then it can make your trip uncomfortable.

The guide to packing a backpack is simplified in these steps below:

(1)  Choose a Backpack

In order to start with the packing, you’ll first have to pick a backpack. Now, backpacks come in different capacities, which are measured in liters.

Many brands are renowned for making backpacks so that you can check their products.

Your hiking trip will also determine the kind of backpack that you require, whether big or small.

(2)  Gather Necessary Supplies

When you are planning a hike, then you must be sure to bring only essential items.

Everyone would be tempted to bring some extra items like their favorite DSLR camera, but all those things will overload your bag.

Plan all the essential things based on how long the hiking trip will be. Whether or not you will be hiking and exactly which place is it, the trip will be too.

Try to keep the bag light by putting things in manageable packs.

(3)  Layout Supplies by Weight

When you have decided on all things, you must now arrange them according to their weight.

All heavy items should be placed together and the light ones together.

Organizing your items like this will help you to make your hike as comfortable as possible.

(4)  Consolidate Items Wherever Possible

Securing a few items together will make sure that they don’t break, and also it will maximize the space in the backpack as well.

Your backpack will be better organized and well-weighted.

For instance, if you are packing your cooking pot in your bag, then it would be recommended that you first utilize the space inside and then put it inside. Pack all the small loose items like toothbrushes and pins etc. in one bag so they are easy to access.

(5)  Arrange from Lightest to Heaviest

Place all the lightweight items at the bottom and the heavy ones in the center. If you place all heavy items at the bottom, then it will put a strain on your back, and you will get tired after a few hours.

All medium-weight items should be placed around the other items, so the things don’t shift their places.

(6)  Keep Essential Items at Immediate Reach

There are some things which are needed by the traveler again and again. For instance, torchlight, water bottle, GPS, and a few first aid items. These things should be placed at the top or on the side in extra pockets so that the user can access them whenever he/she needs them.

(7)  Check the Backpack

Once you are done placing all your items in the bag, then you must wear it once to see how it feels. Wear the backpack properly by compressing straps and then walk around for a while to see if it is comfortable or not.

If you come across any issue, then you must fix it immediately so that when you finally depart for your trip, everything is perfect.

(8)  Use Stuff Sacks to Pack your Food

Stuff sacks are quite popular for packing things and are incredibly lightweight. They are useful because they keep your food items separate from all the rest of the items.

Apart from this, stuff sacks are also used by some people to pack toiletries.

(9)  Cover your Backpack

In the end, you should find a lightweight and water-resistant covering for your backpack. This will save your bag from being soaked by rainwater or snow and will keep your items intact. The cover is extremely lightweight so you can carry it at all times.

Here is a video that shows you exactly how to pack your hiking backpack:

These are some of the ways that you can pack your hiking backpack and avoid some pains and aggravations while on your hiking excursion. These are the basic tips for packing a bag irrespective of where you are going or for how long.

Comfort during the trip is paramount, and this can only be ensured with a perfectly packed backpack.

4 thoughts on “A Simple Guide to Learn How to Pack a Hiking Backpack”

  1. These are great tips for packing a hiking backpack, they’re all obvious yet how many of us skip past them, I know I do.

    When I first started hiking I used to fill a large backpack up with goodies I didn’t require which became far too heavy during the walk, leaving you uncomfortable during the day and backache afterwards.

    I decided to reduce the size and as you mention with the new backpacks available, most are waterproof which my initial one wasn’t fully. By cutting down the weight due to a small backpack size accomplishes a really pleasurable days walking, travelling light is the key for me. Whenever I take a camera I place that in a bag-belt across my waste, having a light camera eases your journey, you don’t realise it’s there.

    Great tips here. Where’s you best place for hiking? Ours is the Lake District in England.
    Thanks for your tips,

    • Well, I think that at some point, we are all guilty of carrying a hiking backpack too large for our needs and overpacked, especially as novice hikers! Because as inexperienced backpackers we want to plan for every possible scenario that might happen along the way.

      As for my favorite place to go hiking, it’s in Quebec and the place is The Mount Orford at about 45 minutes drive from a town called Sherbrooke. It’s a great place especially in the fall when the foliage is changing colors.


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