Packing your backpack for spring or summer hiking trips can be a matter of preference, but one thing is certain; packing it right can make a big difference on your hike, especially on long treks. Here are a few tips that work for The Pig.
(1) Make sure your tent is easy to get at without having to open your pack since putting up your tent is usually the first thing to do when you arrive at camp. If you have to put up your tent when it is raining, the last thing you want to do is open your backpack to get to your tent. I have seen people getting soaked trying to get out their tent in a downpour.
I like to keep my tent between the lid and the main body of the pack, so if it rains, I can loosen the lid straps and just pull it out without opening my pack. I used to keep my tent outside of my pack, hiking above the tree line was fine, but Id’ get holes in it when hiking in tightly wooded areas.
(2) I like to keep heavy things on the top of the pack so most of the weight will sit on my shoulders and on top of my hips. If the weight is on the bottom of my pack, I find it pulls my hips down, putting even more pressure on my shoulders.
(3) Always put your sleeping bag and clothes in a dry bag so they don't get wet. An easy and cheap way to do this is to double-wrap everything in plastic garbage bags.
(4) Keep gas under your food. If it leaks, your food will be OK.
(5) If you have an inflatable sleeping mat, always keep it inside your pack. It can get punctured if its outside in thick woods or low brush. I’ve also seen people stop for a break and throw their packs down, a quick way to get a hole from a sharp rock or twig. And always carry a repair kit for your inflatable and an extra valve.
(6) Use small things such as books and personal gear to fill small gaps in your pack.
(7) When packing, stand your pack upright and fill your pack from the top down rather than laying it down flat. It will fit better when you are carrying it.
The Pig’s Packing Order
From the bottom to the top:
• Sleeping bag, clothes
• Gas, cooking gear, camping gear
• Sleeping pad (keep it inside the pack)
• Spare warm top, tent (between lid and main pack)
• Lid pocket: First aid kit, repair kit, toilet paper, snacks, headlamp
• Outside pocket: Rain gear
• Outside of pack: Tent poles, water bottle