Photo Attribution To coolofthewild.com

We know all about how to choose our hiking backpacks after reading my post “Choosing The Perfect Hiking Backpack To Fit Your Needs”. After we have purchased our perfect backpacks and are preparing for our hiking trip, the next Big Question is “Just how do I pack my backpack correctly?” The 3 basics to always keep in mind are: we pack for comfort, stability, and convenience.




Before we begin putting anything in our backpacks, we should take a really good look at the entire pack. We just may find a few secret compartments, pockets, and additions in the pack that will come in very handy!

Our next step will be gathering all our items and laying everything out. This will give us a good mental picture of our heaviest to lightest items along with the items we will need frequently down to the things we will not need until much later into our hike.

Taking these steps will help us determine if we are packing any unnecessary items. If we are in doubt about certain items, visualize ourselves on the trail. Do we really see ourselves using this item, or is it something that we could really do without? Some things will come with experience, and if the item is not too large, heavy, or bulky, it may be in our best interest to pack it and just see how often we find ourselves reaching for it. There ARE times when it is better to be safe than sorry . . .

After we decide what will be going in our backpacks, it is time to determine the packing order. We will start with the items that will be used infrequently and pack these items on the very bottom of our main compartment for convenience. A list of these infrequently used items are:

Sleeping Bag

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Sleeping Mat

Extra Clothing (thermal underwear, underwear, socks, towel, an extra layer)

Try to store items on the bottom that we are not planning on using until it is time to set up camp for the night. These items will be easily accessible at this point.

Next on our list comes the heavier items. They should be packed in the main compartment close to the center of our backs for comfort and stability. These items include:


Food For Main Meal

Cooking Equipment

Water Reservoir

Our next layer to pack will be the lighter items. They will be placed in the main compartment further away from our backs for comfort and stability. These items include:

Insulated Jacket
Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof Pants
First Aid Kit
Personal Toiletries



The items we will be using most often during the day should be very easy to get to. The best place for these items is preferably in the side or top pockets of our backpacks for our convenience. If we do place these item in the main compartment of our packs, they should be on the top where they will be very easily accessible.

Here is a list of what these frequently used items will be:

Pocket Knife
Headlamp and/or Flashlight
Insect Repellent
Toilet Paper and a Ziplock Bag



In order to increase our backpack's stability and to keep our load from shifting too much, we should cinch down all the backpack's compression straps. In doing this, we will keep our packs as streamlined as possible.

The final, and possibly the most important step, in packing our backpacks correctly will be trying on the loaded backpack. If our packs feel too heavy in certain areas, or unbalanced, it will definitely be to our advantage to rearrange the contents. If we notice that the backpack feels too heavy or unbalanced when trying it on, just imagine how uncomfortable we will become a few miles into our hike . . . Our backs, and our whole bodies, will be very grateful to us for taking the time and effort to make our backpacks as comfortable as possible even before we hit the trail! Now it's time to get those awesome new backpacks all loaded up correctly and be ready for an awesome day of very comfortable and enjoyable hiking!!

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