Did you come back from your last backpacking trip with a sore back and neck pain? And did you unzip that bulging backpack you had been lugging around only to realize you had packed a whole lot of stuff you never used?
Lots of people have similar experiences. And all because they didn’t get the packing right. Is there more to loading a backpack than just somehow cramming everything you want to carry inside? You bet there is!
And to make sure you don’t return with the need for back surgery the next time, here are some smart tips on how to pack a backpack correctly.
1. Dump the unessentials
First, spread all your stuff out and decide which items you could easily do without and ruthlessly discard these. Don’t overload your backpack. Generally, a loaded one should not weigh more than 25% of your ideal body weight.
2. Check you have all the essentials
Do a second round of checking. This time to see that you haven’t left out any of the essential stuff. Like drinking water, a flashlight, medicines, etc.
3. Distribute the weight correctly
Pack the heaviest items close to your back and towards the top. This maintains your centre of gravity close to your hips, and helps to keep your stance upright. Lighter items like your sleeping bag, if you’re carrying one, can be packed towards the bottom, the medium-weight ones towards the centre.
4. Pack frequently needed items in an easy to access place
Put things like light snacks, your torchlight, first aid items, paper napkins, a hand towel, reading glasses, and maps that you may need often in the front pocket or on top of the main compartment.
5. Pack smaller items separately
It can be frustrating when smaller items get lost somewhere deep inside your backpack. So organise these in separate cloth or zip-lock bags. For instance, underwear in one, and toiletries in another.
6. Pack fragile items in the centre
Whilst packing a backpack always place fragile items like a camera towards the centre wrapped in soft items of clothing or surrounded by softer items like lingerie or packets of snacks.
7. Fill those gaps
To maximize the use of space and make sure things don’t move around inside the packed backpack fill all the empty spaces and corners. Roll up soft clothing like pajamas and plug the gaps.
8. Make sure liquids don’t spill inside.
Check that the caps of all bottles with liquids are secured tightly, and as an added precaution, pack the bottles upright.
9. Make the final adjustments
Strap the loaded backpack on, and adjust the shoulder straps and the hip belt till you can feel its weight shift to your hips. At least 80% of the backpack’s weight should rest on your hips, and not on your shoulders and back.
10. Do a reality check
The proof of how you’ve packed a backpack ultimately lies in the carrying. So try walking around with it for around 10-15 minutes. Does it still feel uncomfortable? Then you need to adjust the shoulder straps and hip belt some more.
Chances are, you could be planning a backpacking trip this summer. If you’re considering coming to God’s Own Country, Kerala, we have a choice of four great backpacking accommodations for you.
Have a great trip!