The backpack is the number one tool for backpackers who want to spend their time outdoors hiking to various destinations. And as any experienced backpacker can testify, packing the backpack is critical to comfort along the trail. Nothing is worse than randomly throwing things in a backpack, slinging it over the shoulders, and hitting the trail with absolutely no forethought.
The way a backpacker packs is as critical to his or her journey as the way movers packs a truck prior to embarking on a trip covering hundreds of miles. Get it right, and everything works very well. Get it wrong, and the journey will be miserable, uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous.
There are five steps to packing your backpack for maximum comfort and safety:
Step #1: Size Your Backpack
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all backpack. Knowing that, your backpack should be sized according to your frame. The key here is something known as the iliac crest. The distance between the iliac crest and the C7 vertebrae determines the size of the backpack you need. If you are not sure how to make this measurement, there are lots of easy-to-understand guides online.
Trying to carry a backpack that has been incorrectly sized is a good way to ensure you will be uncomfortable. If you choose a backpack that is too large, you could even injure your back. Make sizing a priority before your next trip.
Step #2: Plan the Contents
The second step is to plan the contents of your backpack. In other words, what will you be taking with you? As you plan, keep in mind two words: space and weight. You want to make maximum use of available space and keep your backpack as light as possible. For example, consider your cooking options.
Emberlit makes lightweight, compact camping stoves that can collapse to be completely flat. It slips very easily into your backpack and weighs less than a pound. An Emberlit camping stove offers you full functionality without taking up excess space or adding excess weight. The rest of your gear should be thought of with a similar mindset.
Step #3: Packed with Plastic Bags
Even the most water-resistant backpacks are not fully waterproof in a persistent rain. Therefore, it is a good idea to pack your belongings in plastic bags before putting them in your backpack. Using plastic bags is also advantageous in that it allows you to pack things according to categories for easier location.
Step #4: Pack with Weight Distribution in Mind
When it’s time to actually load your backpack, do so with weight distribution in mind. The heaviest objects should be at the bottom of the pack so as to prevent it from being top-heavy. With a solid strap to put around your waist, you will be able to support the weight of those heavier objects just fine.
Step #5: Test and Repack If Necessary
The final step for packing your backpack is to test it out when you’re done. Throw it over your shoulders and go walking for 20 or 30 minutes. If you find that it is uncomfortable, unpack and start over. Keep in mind that your backpacking trip will involve walking in some pretty rugged environments. If your pack is uncomfortable walking down the street in your neighborhood, it is going to be uncomfortable out in the woods.
The folks at Emberlit say that how you pack your backpack can mean the difference between an enjoyable trip and a lousy one. So make an effort to pack with these things in mind. You will be more comfortable for it.