You’ve planned your hike, you’ve assembled your essentials and you have the right backpack for the outing. You’re ready to go – right? Well … maybe.  Experienced hikers have shared some tips about how to pack so that your adventure is the safest and most comfortable for both day hikes and multi-day camping hikes.

     Know the anatomy of your backpack.  Most modern packs share a few common traits that efficiently distribute weight and still keep essential items accessible. 

     The hip belt pocket is a great little nook for high-use items like trail snacks and lip balm. You won’t need to take your pack off to access it. 

      Probably the most obvious compartments on your backpack are the water bottle pockets towards the base of each side. Store your bottles here for a quick drink.

     A well-loaded backpack will help you keep your balance and prevent nasty falls.  Remember the two C’s: comfort and convenience.

     Lay out everything you want to take on your hike and separate the “essential” and “luxury” items.  “Essential” means essential: don’t cheat by moving luxury items into that pile.  Now, eliminate (at least) half of the gear left in the “luxury” pile. We all know you don’t really need that stuff, anyway.

     Consolidate items wherever possible. Maintain your center of gravity—and thus your comfort – by packing your heaviest, densest gear as close to your back as you can.

     Attach as few external items as possible and follow the rules for weight distribution. For example, attach walking poles to the top of the pack, not the bottom.

     Lift the pack onto your body and tighten the straps - they help compress gear inwards, maintaining a tight center of gravity.  If you can walk around comfortably, and the pack feels compressed and secure, you're good to go. 

     Pay attention to the balance and stability of the weight so that if you need to repack you can identify what items you need to repack and where you need to reposition them. 

     Remember, you need 3 liters (0.8 US gal) of water a day to survive and 2000 calories a day to be in a good condition. Research the environment you are going to hike. Be prepared to collect water from a water source or plants because storing water above 3 liters (0.8 US gal) would be difficult and makes the bag heavy.


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