How To Pack A Hiking Pack


Knowing how to pack a hiking pack can be the difference between pleasure and pain when you're out in the wilderness. It’s important to take the time to pack and unpack your gear before you go, to check if everything fits. This will also help you gauge how comfortable different packing configurations will be when you’re ‘doing the hard yards’ on your hike.



How to Pack Your Hiking Backpack Efficiently


There are plenty of tips and tricks to keep in mind when packing your hiking pack. Packing efficiently will ensure you can take all of your essentials with you, whilst keeping your pack weight to a minimum . It also means everything that needs to be easily accessible, will be!


Pack Your Sleeping Bag at the Bottom of Your Pack


You probably won’t need to access your sleeping bag throughout the day. Placing it at the bottom means the soft bulk of the bag comfortably sits across your lower back. Keep in mind that packing your sleeping bag deep in your bag will not necessarily keep it dry. If you’re facing wet weather conditions, a pack liner or waterproof stuff sack is a good idea.


Place Heavy Items Against the Frame of Your Backpack


Putting heavier items against the frame ensures the centre of gravity is closer to your back to help you manoeuvre the pack easily. Stoves, fuel, food and similar items are candidates for this part of the pack. Try to keep the weight central so as not to overburden one side of your back.


Keep Your Tent Accessible


Your tent should be arranged near to your back at about shoulder height or slightly lower, without too much gear on top. Having your tent be easily accessible is convenient when you stop to set up camp, especially if it's raining and you need shelter quickly.


Make the Most of Your Available Space


Pack small items such as underwear or socks inside other items or fill the space between bulky items. Gear which is needed frequently or quickly should be easy to access. Lid pockets and back pockets are perfect for snacks, gloves, cameras, map, compass, first aid kits and rainwear. Remember that pockets are the least waterproof areas of the pack and use dry sacks to protect your gear where necessary.


Keep Your Rainwear at the Ready


Ideally, put your jacket, poncho, or rainwear into an accessible pocket. If your rainwear is too bulky to fit into a pocket it should be tucked under the lid of your hiking pack, where it can be quickly retrieved.


Avoid Attaching Equipment to the Outside of Your Pack


In the bush, it is easy to damage or lose gear from the outside of your rucksack by snagging it on dense scrub. If you are travelling using a travel pack, gear which is hanging off the outside of the pack is an easy target for thieves, and can be damaged or lost during baggage handling.


Lash Skiing or Mountaineering Equipment to Their Designated Areas


Skiing or mountaineering equipment is exempt from the rule above. Skis are best carried on a pack by lashing them to the sides with compression straps or straps in plastic lash tabs. Secure them tightly to the pack, as they are prone to shift around while walking. Alpine packs often have patches of reinforced fabric on either the lid or front panel, which are designed for attaching crampons. Face crampon spikes towards each other to limit any damage to the pack fabric.




How to Keep Your Hiking Gear Dry


When it comes to thinking about how to pack a hiking pack, it’s really important to take steps to keep your hiking gear dry. After all, there’s nothing worse than damp clothes or a soggy sleeping bag! Keep in mind that neither canvas nor nylon packs are totally waterproof. While the fabrics can be quite water-repellent, water is still able to seep through the seams or zippers in wet conditions. 


The good news is that you can improve, or recondition the waterproofness of the fabrics by applying water-repellent products. However, sealing the seams of a rucksack, either in the factory or at home, is often difficult and not always effective. There are also several other simple ways to improve the weatherproofing of your pack.


Waterproof Pack Covers


Pack covers are like shower caps for your pack! They have an elastic hem that hugs the body of the pack, leaving only the harness exposed, allowing you to keep carrying your pack comfortably. This system is great for travel packs as you don’t have to use a pack liner inside. Many packs now have convenient integrated raincovers.


Waterproof Pack Liners 


Pack liners are large bags made of lightweight highly waterproof fabric, with tape-sealed or welded seams and a roll-down top to prevent seeping. Pack liners are placed inside the pack to act as a lining. Look for a liner that extends higher than the actual body of your pack to maximise the available space once you have rolled the top down.


Dry Bags


Waterproof dry bags are another great option, and essentially a smaller version of a pack liner. An advantage of this approach is that by using different coloured stuff sacks, you can easily organise and locate gear within your pack. Stuff sacks are also effective at keeping dust and sand out of your gear. Using this method in conjunction with a pack liner or cover will greatly increase your chances of keeping your gear dry in the wettest of conditions.




FAQs About How to Pack a Hiking Pack



Why is my hiking pack so heavy?


There are a few reasons why a pack may be too heavy. You may have overpacked, with too many items stuffed into your hiking backpack. Heavy items might not be properly distributed, leading to more weight in the wrong spot. Take the time to double and triple-check that you’re only packing the essentials and that they’re properly organised. Or, you might have too much water onboard! It’s important to achieve a balance of enough water without it weighing you down - make sure you plan your route and pack an effective water treatment solution.


Does a hiking pack need a frame?


It’s important that your hiking pack is sturdy, comfortable and supportive, and a frame is an important part of this. However, if you’re only off on a short hike and are carrying minimal items, you can get away with a light daypack.


Where do you put heavy stuff in a rucksack?


It’s always best to put heavy items close to your back, and low within the hiking backpack. The weight forms a centre of gravity, to help you maintain balance and lift with your hips rather than your shoulders.



Explore Hiking Packs Online Today


At Paddy Pallin, we’re dedicated to providing comfortable, sturdy, and spacious hiking packs for adventures of all kinds. We know exactly how important it is to pack a hiking bag properly for maximum comfort on the trail. Make the most of our tips today, and if you’re still looking for the perfect pack, explore our range of backpacks online.

Looking for more handy information? For tips on how to properly fit your pack for maximum comfort check out our guide here.



Lifetime Club Membership

Join the Paddy Pallin Club for $10.00 and receive a 10% discount on all future purchases.*


Exclusive Club Member sales, promotions, and events!
*Club Member discount not applicable to gift cards and services such as repairs. Discount may not be used in conjuction with any offer