Although organizing and storing your hiking backpack may not appear to be a difficult task, it is a source of frustration for many people. Even ex-Tetris addicts struggle since it is impossible to fit everything in your suitcase. The bag should also be well-balanced, and some of the equipment should be conveniently accessible – unless you prefer emptying your entire bag every lunch to find your knife. Simply said, I’ve kept two key requirements in mind for properly packing your hiking backpack, which I’ll go over in greater detail below.
Rule No. 1: Make Sure Your Loads Are Evenly Distributed And That Your Hiking Backpack Is Balanced
Why is it important to load your Hiking Backpack evenly?
Balancing and distributing the load in your backpack helps you to:
If your backpack is heavier on one side than the other, or if it is not properly filled, it may compel you to move more or in an unfavourable manner (especially in the long run). As a result, the objective is to preserve energy while avoiding stress caused by inappropriate loading.
To reduce the likelihood of falling or getting hurt. A badly laden bag might tip you over or carry you about more readily than a well-balanced, well-filled bag. Many imbalances are harmless, but some result in a fall and others in damage as the body attempts to regulate itself (strain, sprain, etc.).
Obviously, the lighter your bag, the less work you’ll have to put into it and the less chance it’ll unbalance you. Distributing the loads evenly and balancing your bag should be considered “optimization,” but this is not what will give you the feeling of a 20 kg bag weighing 10 kg.
How should you load your hiking bag?
A little physics!
Do you hold a heavy object with your hands close to your body or with your arms outstretched?
Unless you’re performing weight training, you wear it tight to your body with your arms flexed to reduce effort. One of the reasons for this is merely physical: pushing the object away from your body increases the leverage and increases the effort.
It’s pretty much the same for wearing a backpack. You will have to use more effort to carry it if its weight, or rather its centre of gravity, is distant from your body. The idea is to get the bag’s centre of gravity as near to the middle of your back as possible because the majority of the weight of the backpack is carried at the level of the hips.
This means that the heaviest things must be placed at the level of the centre of the back. They should be as central as possible (at the level of the spine), as near to the back as feasible (not towards the outside of the backpack), and ideally beneath the shoulders and above the hips.
I’d like to use this opportunity to offer you some advice:
- It is sometimes simpler to separate the big stuff. For example, rather than storing the entire tent in a bag, it is occasionally preferable to separate the pegs from the fabric.
- Consider placing some things upright; it is frequently better to distribute the load this way.
- If you have a water bag, try using the interior pocket that is commonly located on the rear of bags. Otherwise, remember to make room for it at this location.
- The examples are broad enough to explain the idea. It all depends on the sort of backpack you’re wearing. Some bags, for example, are so thin that you can’t afford to stuff the sides differently than the centre (often this is not possible unless you have very small items). On the other hand, when it comes to large bags, be cautious not to place too much weight on the edges and to keep the load centred.
- Normally, if you follow what we’ve just seen, your hiking backpack should be properly balanced, but make sure it’s not heavier on one side than the other – since you could notice it after a day’s walk.
In addition to evenly dividing the load, nothing should move in or around the bag to avoid becoming unstable while walking
It’s fine if minor objects move, but avoid shifting a lot of weight – because if you lean to one side, the weight will change and knock you off balance.
The most convenient method is to utilize the compression straps or elastics that are normally adjustable on the bag’s sides.
When the bag is significantly over large for its contents, it is preferable to “stuff” everything at the bottom of the bag and leave the top vacant. The key thing to keep in mind is that items should not migrate to one side or the other. Heavy things can also be propped up by clothes or other light and bulky materials.
Rule No 2: Is To Have Everything You Need Close At Reach
The second rule for carrying your hiking bag is clearer than the first, yet even if you know it, you are frequently duped.
To prevent having to unpack your entire bag and repeat the process, it is preferable to organise it carefully. In general, we plan this by day since, whether in a bivouac or a refuge, we require a substantial portion of the contents of our pack in the evening. The idea is to avoid having to remake your bag during the day.
Nothing complicated: simply place the equipment you’ll need for the day nearby. This can be in the bag’s storage compartments, garment pockets (jacket, jeans, shorts…), or on the bag’s top.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of things we typically require during the day:
- Things to eat (snacks and meals);
- Map, compass, GPS;
- First aid kit;
- Solar cream;
- A camera
- Little useful things (knife, light, etc.)
- Clothing is required (for rain and/or cold).
When packing your camping bag in the morning, consider what you’ll need for the day. It can be a pain at first, but if you repeat the same pattern then everything will have a home in your suitcase.
Nota bene: Some bags unzip from the bottom or the front, making items more accessible. It should be noted that these apertures are still less practical than the top opening and if the contents of the bag are packed tightly enough, it can be difficult to seal everything (from the top there is often a little more room).