Hiking Backpack – Packing Your Essentials Simplified

hiking backpack

Pack Your Hiking Bag Like A Pro

Hiking backpack organization of all your necessities can have you wondering, where do I put it all? Simple planning and forethought can get you packed and ready for the trail quickly.  Tossing your stuff into a backpack randomly will have you cursing. You will end up frantically searching when you need something in a hurry. This can make the difference between hiking agony or a pleasurable trip.   Do you really want that frustration?  Let’s start packing with a purpose by using our ABC’s and focus on; Accessibility –  Balance – Condense/Compress.

Example Of A Solid Packed Hiking Backpack

hiking backpack

Hiking Backpack Pockets And Compartments

Hiking bags are designed to help sort and organize your cargo.  Some items you will want quick access to without stopping your hike. Staples such as water, a compass, sunscreen, etc. you’ll want to grab on the go.   Other items you won’t be using until you make camp at the end of the day.

Start With A Hiking & Camping Check List

You should always start packing your hiking bag by writing a checklist sheet of items you are taking because you’ll want to avoid forgetting anything important.  Once you have done that, you can begin by packing from the bottom up and check off each item as you pack it. 

Practice Makes Perfect

After a few trips out, you will automatically remember your frequently used items and where to pack them. You may want to make changes next trip out if you pack something too heavy, so make mental notes of those items that seemed to throw your balance off or that you never used.

What Do I Pack In My Hiking Pack First?

It’s always a good idea to line the inside of your backpack bag with a contractor bag before you begin packing. This first step will allow everything to stay dry for less than a dollar. If you are traveling in a chronically wet area, consider investing in a pack cover, which will add another layer of moisture protection.

It’s All About Backpack Weight Balance

Hiking backpack organization is important to help balance the weight of the load on your back and hips. The bottom of your pack should contain the gear you will use when you finish your hike for the day. Use items such as a sleeping bag and/or pad, clothing you plan to sleep in, casual shoes to relax in as cushions.  Soft and squishy items like these create internal shock absorption within your hiking bag because they are soft.

Always Fill Your Bladder Bag First

If you are using a water reservoir/bladder, fill it first, and then pack around it with soft items to eliminate shifting. If you attempt to place the bladder bag into your full backpack it will be difficult.  Can you guess how I know this? I found out the hard way.

Pack Heavy Items In Your Hiking Backpack’s Core

Hiking backpack gear such as trail dinner food (not snacks), cook stove, water bladders or bottles and a bear canister should be packed in the core or middle section of your hiking pack.  Place food items or other things that have scent to them inside the bear canister because they give off odors to animals. You may think all heavy items should go at the bottom, like when you pack a grocery bag, but this is not so.  

Pack Your Hiking Backpack Wisely

Placing heavier objects in the center helps to create a stable center of gravity directing the weight downward instead of backward to prevent the bag from sagging. If you place these heavier items high in the pack, it will make your backpack lean or tip, throwing your balance off.  If you are carrying liquid fuel for your stove, make sure the cap is secure and tight so that it doesn’t leak. Pack the bottle upright placing it below your food (in case of spillage) and then wrap soft items, to act as a buffer, around the tank. Examples are extra clothing, your tent body, extra dry bags or a rain fly.

Hiking Backpack Items Packed On Top

This is where you place your bulkier necessities.  You may want to place your tent at the very top of your pack. This way, if a storm moves in and you need to set it up immediately, it’s handy to access.  With sudden weather changes you will want easy gain to a heavier jacket or rainwear because staying dry is very important.
Keep them on top for quick retrieval.

Keep Important Hiking Pack Items Handy

Have your first aid kit readily available because you can get an injury any time. Your water purification filter or tablets should always be handy to refill your hydration bottle when you come across a water source. This is also where you will want to have your toilet trowel, paper and zip lock bag for used TP.  You never know when you will need these items, but they should be easy to grab without a hassle. 

Placing Hiking Backpack Accessories On The Exterior

Hiking backpacks often come with reversible side compression straps that you can utilize to attach exterior gear. These straps must have rear-facing ends with clips instead of being sewn onto the pack. There must be a male clip and a female clip on opposite sides that you can clasp together. This gives you the ability to attach bulky things like your tent, trekking poles or extra shoes because you may not have room inside the pack.

Packing A Hiking Bag Back To Side

With your gear loaded at the back end, that leaves the side pockets free for grabbing things you need on the go, such as a water bottle, sunscreen and a camera. This is great for utilizing the pockets and compression at the same time. If your hiking pack lacks the amount of loops or rings to hang gear from, you can easily attach additional hooks and pockets as needed to center the load.

Packed And Ready

Now You Really Know Your Backpacking ABC’s

Hiking Backpack treks are all different. You can adjust your packing to suit your needs while keeping the ABC’s in mind.  Utilize the basics of heavy to light areas of packing your essentials, and you can experiment with extra gear and placement until it’s comfortable for you.  Happy Hiking!


We love the great outdoors, backpack hiking, fishing, camping and experiencing nature's beauty.

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