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How to Pack Your Backpack Efficiently

Hiker Health: How to Pack Your Backpack Efficiently

Hiker Health: How-to Buy the Right Pack for You

It is no secret that the backpack you choose can make or break any backpacking adventure you embark on. The question is, how do you pick the right pack? There are a wide variety of backpacks designed with a wide variety of features and shapes and sizes, all of which dictate the packs efficiency in any given environment. So, evaluating the scope of your outdoor travels, be-it a day hike or backcountry tour, can make a world of difference from the get-go. This makes it easier and saves time (and sometimes money) by weeding out the packs that don't fit within your perimeters. Once your guidelines are set, a sales associate will be able to pair you with the right pack.

Now, we understand that the online marketplace is a vast and wondrous machine, but sometimes you just have to get out and get chummy with your neighborhood retailer. Especially when purchasing packs. Much like ski and snowboard boots (and a great many other things), fit is everything. Trying on a pack in person can eliminate any buyers remorse by giving you a first hand feel for the pack and its features before you buy it.
Packing Your Backpack

Contents at a Glance:
Choosing a Backpack
Packing the Sleeping Bag
Creating a Balance
Easily Accessible Items
Cut Down on Wasted Space
Avoid Food Rot and Gear Leaks
Make Your Backpack Waterproof
External Frame Backpacks
How to Wear the Backpack
Additional Resources
Hiking Gear

Packing the Sleeping Bag

When packing your sleeping bag, here is something to consider- it is the last thing you will need during the day, so it should be the first thing you pack. This approach helps keep your pack from becoming a logistical nightmare. With it resting at the bottom of your pack, you won't have to rummage through it to get to other items, thus maximizing your efficiency. Of course, if you have an external frame pack, you can compress your sleeping bag and attach it just below the butt of the pack.


Creating a Balance


Consider physics- weight distribution plays an integral part when packing your bag. A cumbersome pack will undoubtedly ruin any adventure by putting excess strain on your back, so creating a balance within your pack can help eliminate fatigue as well as aches and pains due to over-compensating muscles. You can start by keeping heavier items centralized and closer to your body within the pack. This allows your back and shoulders to move more freely and puts less strain on the body. Think of a teeter totter- you want the heaviest part of the pack to act as a central balance point that rests just above the hips.

Easily Accessible Items

As you wander the trail from camp to camp and vista to vista, there are certain items in your pack that you will want and need to keep close at hand, like snacks, maps, first aid kit, small tools and water. These items should be stored in the more accessible, external pockets of your pack. If featured, utilize the hip belt pocket. The hip belt is a great place to store a utility knife and a quick snack you can eat without stopping. It is also a great place to store sun screen and/or bug spray depending on your environment. Other external pockets, such as the brain (outfitted to most travel packs and located at the top of the pack), can be used to store repair kits and First Aid kits as well as auxiliary snacks and tools.

Cut Down on Wasted Space

Think Tetris. Your pack can get out of hand real quick if you don't pay attention to the details. Within your pack, pots and pans are more than just pots and pans, they are containers that can hold food and utencils and soap. This approach helps cut down on wasted space, keeps items centralized and your pack organized. When packing food in bags, make sure you squeeze out all of the air before packing them (like a vacuum seal). Last, when packing clothes, it is best to roll them up or flatten them. Remember, the more organized your pack is, the more efficient and less hectic you backpacking adventure will be.

Avoid Food Rot and Gear Leaks

Perishable foods and liquids can make a mess of your pack if not properly contained, so you'll want to take some time before heading out to consolidate key items. Along with making sure that things like liquid soap, fuel and sun screen are properly sealed, We suggest keeping these items in sealable, waterproof pouches. By doing so, you keep these items organized and you prevent these items from spilling out into the entire bag, which could ruin gear and possibly contaminate your food and water supplies. Nobody needs that, especially if you're deep in the backcountry where there are no grocery stores. Bad news.


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Make Your Backpack Waterproof

Comfort is a backpacker's best friend but that relationship can turn south quickly if you're ill equipped to battle a sudden downpour. Overlooking the waterproofness of your pack can potentially leave you with a soggy mess that will add needless weight and discomfort to your trip. There is a way to ensure a long lasting friendship by utilizing waterproof rain covers. Although most packs are at least water resistant, rain covers help solidify your peace of mind and help fortify your pack for whatever lies ahead, even when the weather forecast appears to be smooth sailing. Another measure you may consider is lining your pack with a durable garbage sack. This keeps the contents of your pack safe from outside moisture if you do not have a rain cover. It is also suggested that you keep all electronic devices such as smart phones, transceivers and GPS gear in a separate, waterproof pouch for added protection.

External Frame Packs

Most modern packs nowadays are all inclusive, but there are purists out there that hold strong to their external frame packs, and the onset of the vintage movement will have some adventurers looking to experience it. That isn't a bad thing. If you're heading out with an external frame pack and plan to attach a few extra items to the frame, do so with strong rope so these items do not dangle or fall. This could hinder you while hiking, and consent stops for maintenance will add time on the trail. Also make sure to keep all food in the main compartment and not on the exterior frame as this could attract animals... wild and ferocious ones.

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