Rucksack Backpack; Is It Impossible To Fit It All In A Backpack?

Backpacker Enjoying A Hike

A rucksack backpack is simply a backpack used for hiking and camping.  The definition of a backpack is a bag with shoulder straps that is widely carried by hikers. The word rucksack and backpack are often used interchangeably, but generally refer to size. Backpacks tend to be smaller than rucksacks.  How do you fit so much camping gear for overnight hikes in a large backpack or a rucksack and still be able to carry it all?  Here’s how it can be accomplished.

The key components to fitting it all in there with careful placement of your necessities lies in proper packing inside and out. If you are new to hiking, it may take some practice, but organization is your best friend when you are on the trail.  If you throw some stuff in a suitcase for a trip, it’s not a huge hassle to rummage though it at your hotel.  But in the wilderness, you’ll need to pack smart, lightly and with load distribution in mind.

Backpackers; Work From The Bottom Up

Rucksack backpack hikers, you should gather all your gear and lay it out, using a checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.  Keep a minimalist approach in mind for the number of days you’ll be hiking. Keep in mind that you will not only want to balance the weight, but place things you will use last in the bottom of your hiking pack.

For example, any gear that you would not use during your hike, but rather,when you set up camp that night. Notice I did not say “heavier” things. I’m referring to things such as, your sleeping bag and pad, casual shoes for camp and layers of your clothing that you might wear for colder weather at night.

Your Core Or Middle Hiking Backpack Layer

Pack Your Rucksack The Right Way

This is where you will pack your heavier items such as your cook stove, evening food that you’ll eat at camp (not snacks), your water reservoir or bottled water and a bear canister.  Fitting a full water reservoir, even with its own compartment, into your backpack is easiest if it’s the first thing you pack, and then pack around it.  This is done because fitting a full reservoir after packing the core items is very difficult.

Placement Of Food And Gear

Your rucksack backpack can be more efficiently packed if you place food inside your bear canister. This will allow you to gain more room and eliminate food odors on the trail that keen-scented animals can detect. Packing these types of items in the center of your hiking bag help create a center of gravity and will direct the load weight downward instead of backward and your bag won’t tend to sag.  If you were to pack these items toward the top of your bag, it would make the bag feel like it was tipping.

If you are using a cook stove and carrying gas, this is where you would fit your fuel can, upright and separated from your food (in case of spillage.)  Make sure the bottle cap is tight and spillage is less likely. As you pack, wherever you find nooks and crannies, wrapping items inside one another saves space and your cargo will not shift as easily while you’re walking. Wrap clothing around your tent body and rainfly.

Hikers; Pack These Items In The Top Of Your Rucksack

Weather changes are unpredictable, so you’ll want a rain jacket within easy reach.  Also, a fleece jacket and pants at the top of your bag will come in handy if temperatures drop suddenly.  Other items you’ll want quick access to will be your first aid kit, toilet supplies and your water purification tablets or drops.  If you have a quick pop up tent, putting it at the top of your backpack will ensure shelter if needed in a hurry if rain or hail suddenly starts.

Trekkers Should Add This Gear Using Exterior Pockets And Straps

rucksack backpack
Rucksack With Gear Attached

Odd shaped items like trekking pole, rope, tarps, tent poles, axe or a camp chair can be attached via loops or straps on the outside of your hiking bag.  Keep weight balance in mind as you add these things.  Daisy chains, lash patches and compression straps are other ways to carry gear that can’t be carried in any other place. 

Keep in mind, this type of gear can snag on low-hanging branches as you traverse. If you are rock jumping, it can also scrape against the rocks and damage it.  Minimize what you have to carry on the exterior and utilize your bag’s compression straps to keep it all snug against your body.

Your exterior pockets on the sides are great for carrying hiking essentials like a water bottle, snacks, cell phone and other small items. These are things you need easy access to, such as sunscreen for reapplying, bug spray or sunglasses. If your backpack has a back pocket, be aware that whatever you pack there, you will have to remove your back to get to its contents.

Helpful Backpack Packing Videos

This video link will help you understand the theory behind getting it all in your backpack for overnight and extended hikes.

Once your pack is all loaded and ready to go, you need to know how to get it up and on your back. Here is a video to help you correctly and safely lift your backpack on and off to avoid hurting your back or other muscles.  It is not advised that you pull on your shoulder straps. Not only will it will wear them out sooner, it won’t be ergonomically correct for your body.

Backpack Packing; It Can Be Done To Fit All Your Gear

rucksack backpack
Backpack Hikers Enjoy The Beauty Of Nature

Your rucksack backpack can be loaded to comfortably fit all your essentials for your hiking excursion.  It most definitely is not impossible. There is always a right and wrong way to do just about anything.  Packing your hiking gear correctly will make a huge difference in your comfort and accessibility on the trail.

Seasoned hikers at Nature Trail Backpacks are here to help you get a quality hiking bag and provide information to help you gain knowledge and success for all of your hikes.  Readers, please feel free to comment below to help inexperienced hikers benefit from your experience on the trail.  We want you all to have happy hiking!


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

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