Loading a Pack

Your friends discuss taking a backpacking trip and you say sure, why not?  Secretly, you think it’ll never happen.  Then, amidst all of life’s craziness and work’s troubles your friends call to remind you about the trip, and oh yeah, they’ll swing by tomorrow to pick you up.  Now, it’s the night before and you’re online searching for a way to fit everything piled in a heap on your living room floor into a tiny backpack that you have to be able to haul up mountains, over streams, and who knows where else?

First off, about 25-40% of that crap you don’t need.  Take only the essentials.  Once you cross that threshold into the outdoors to spend time with the wild things, you need to check every high maintenance habit you have at the door.  You’ll sleep under the stars, not in a resort.  There’s no need for hair gel, three different pairs of shoes, your favorite handheld poker game, or those five novels you’ve been meaning to read.  (Let’s face it: you should probably just donate those to the nearest library anyway.)  I’ll even pretend that it breaks my heart to tell you this, but you don’t need a pillow either, use a shirt or jacket.

Now that you’re pile is a little more manageable, let us begin with a few things to keep in mind throughout the stuffing—I mean packing—process:

>Start from the bottom and work your way up.

>Consider the need factor.

>Recall those lessons you learned in grade school about gravity and how it works.

>Balance is key.

Reach for your sleeping bag.  Generally, it’s a good idea to put it in the bottom of your pack.  Some packs even have a bottom compartment specifically for your sleeping bag.

The heavier gear belongs in the middle of the pack and close to your spine.  The heavier it is the closer to your shoulders it should be.  I’m referring to your tent, stove, food, etc.  Around the heavy stuff pack your clothing.  Use lightweight gear to stabilize the pack, and keep things from rolling around or shifting.    Try to keep the weight evenly distributed from right to left so your pack doesn’t pull you off-balance.

Stuff those supplies you want quickly (rain jacket, first aid kit, toilet paper, tissues, snacks, etc.) towards the top.  The faster you’re going to want it, the closer to the top and easier to find you’ll want to pack it.  Most packs have side mesh pockets, hip pockets, and shoulder pockets to stash this kind of stuff.  For example, stick a granola bar into your hip pocket, lip balm into your shoulder pocket, and maybe some water into the side pockets.  Whatever makes the most sense to you.  Packs also have straps on the outside to store poles, rope, helmets, and various other things.  Those cool accessories on your pack are to use, not admire.

If you’re in need of a cool Deuter, Osprey, Gregory, Kelty, The North Face, or other trustworthy pack, then check out RockyMountainTrail.com’s Backpack section for Backpacking Packs, Child Carriers, Daypacks, Hydration Packs, and more.

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