What to Pack in a Hiking Backpack

What to Pack in a Hiking Backpack

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By the far, the question most often asked by hiking newbies is: “How should I pack my hiking backpack?

Well, there are several ways to doing it actually. And the method of packing your hiking backpack depends on what type of backpack you are using.

What do you pack in a hiking backpack?

For one, an external frame pack sits the weight differently on your back than an internal frame pack.

Take an external frame hiking backpack, for example. For these, you want the weight to sit low as this helps you balance better as you are hiking.

Internals, on the other hand, are made to hug the body more. And because of that, you naturally want to place the heaviest items in an internal frame pack where it can be close to your center of gravity. This make it easier for you turn around because with most of the weight near your center of the gravity, there is less momentum when your pack whips you down as you turn.

red backpack filled with hiking gear in rainforest

What should I carry in my hiking backpack?

Now, besides the basic items you’ll be stuffing inside your hiking backpack, there are also your tent and your sleeping bag, which are by far, the two bulkiest items in your gear list.

The great thing about sleeping bags though is that you can put them in a separate compression bag. A compression bag is basically a stuff sack with straps on the side to cinch down the size. The reduced size makes it easier for you to stuff your sleeping bag in the bottom of your internal frame hiking backpack.

External frame hiking backpacks have less room in enclosed compartments than internal frame packs. That means you probably need to lash your sleeping bag in the outside bottom of your pack. Other large items are also tied outside an external frame hiking backpack.

How do I pack my tent while hiking?

Now, on to your tent. The best way to pack a tent is to split it into parts—tent body, poles, and rain fly. That way, the weight can spread out evenly in your pack or among a few people in your group.

The tent body and tent fly are made of waterproof material. This makes them excellent items to stuff in the top of your hiking backpack as their coating of waterproofing will help protect the rest of your items in your pack.

There is also another reason why stuffing the tent body and tent fly is the best method of packing tents. Have you noticed how folding a tent the same way over and over, the waterproofing can crack along the creases? By stuffing the tent and fly, they are never folded the same way twice and creases do not form.

Another reason for placing the tent and fly in the top is for easy access.

The first thing most people do when they get into camp is to put up the tent. With the tent being at the top of your hiking backpack, you save time from having to unload the rest of your pack just to get to the tent.

This may not seem like much of a time saver, but if it is raining, you’ll be grateful that your tent is in the top of your pack.

Don’t forget to pack plenty of weather-appropriate clothing (think layers), hiking boots, dry socks, and plenty of food.

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