While each of us have different gear, the packing process for our packs will generally be the same. In this post, I'll give you some pointers for making your pack fit the best while distributing the weight properly.
In the very bottom of your pack should be your tent and sleeping system, or the bulk of your gear. While I'm on a long-distance hike, if my tent is dry I won't even bother stuffing it into a bag. I just make it as flat as possible and put it across the bottom of my pack, followed on top by the stuff sack. On top of this, my sleeping bag and sleeping pad will go in next. While many people don't use a stuff sack for their sleeping bags either, I am a big fan of keeping these items in their own bags and filling the empty space with clothing and my cook pot. Since my cook pot is a nesting system, my cup, spork, Swiss Army Knife, stove, lighter, and fuel canister all fit inside. I usually cram this into an empty space created by the sleeping bag/pad combo.
The middle of your pack is going to be where the heaviest items go. I normally take my food bag and lay it horizontally to fill up the entire space across the width of my pack. If you have any liquid fuel, like Coleman fuel or white gas, make sure your cap is on tightly to prevent spilling on the items below. Since we're talking about the middle of your pack, this is also technically where your Camelbak or Platypus bladder will go also. Most packs designed in recent years will have a hydration sleeve running up and down the part of the pack closest to your pack. Since water is one of the heaviest things you will carry, you definitely want this closer to your core. Go ahead and put the bladder in while you're adding your food bag.
After getting all the other items in your pack, the only thing left to go on top is probably a small bag with extra clothes. If you haven't used them to fill the space in the rest of your backpack, go ahead and put these in a thin layer on top of your pack. If you don't have an external front pocket, this is a great place to put your rain gear and pack cover for easy access in a rainstorm.
Many backpacks have a lid or a brain. This is a great place to keep small items you'll be using throughout the day, like a map/compass, guidebook, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and your first aid kit. Also, if you're like me and need glasses to see, a great place to store your eyeglass case and vitamins.
My backpack has three external pockets - one large one and two small ones, as well as two pockets on the hipbelt. The hipbelt pockets are good for storing items you'll need throughout the day, such as your Phone/GPS/Camera, Chapstick, and snacks. The largest pocket is where I'll store bear line and tent poles. The upper small pocket is for my Sawyer waterfilter and the lower pocket is where I keep an extra water bottle. If you have a large foam sleeping pad, like a Ridgerest or Z-rest, the lashing loops on the bottom of the pack generally reserved for gear like trekking poles or an ice axe is where you'll attach it to your pack.
Is this the method you use to pack your bag? What would you change or do differently with your pack? Leave me a comment below or head over to the Facebook page to share your opinion!