How to pack your backpack?
First use your hiking checklist and camping checklist to make sure you have everything and lay it out before you.
Note: Your heaviest items should be placed on top of your sleeping bag and close to your spine.
BOTTOM OF BAG
If you are camping, put your sleeping bag at the bottom of the pack. Once you have a home for your sleeping bag, slip your tent under the bag. Use straps to connect your tent poles to the outside of the backpack. Also put other items you do not need right away towards the bottom of the pack such as a change of clothes.
TOP OF BAG
Put essential items like a map, gps, first aid kit, flashlight, and trail snacks on outside pouches or in upper compartments for easy access during breaks. Many packs have holsters or side-pockets for your water bottles as well.
MIDDLE OF BAG
Food should be near the middle of the bag. Fuel for your stove should not be near your food or your tent. Double check the cap to ensure it is screwed on tightly. Leaky fuel can spoil your food and ruin the waterproof layers of your tent or raingear.
To ensure these heavy items stay in place, you can tightly pack clothes around the gear to keep it snug.
Pack camping cookware including stoves and pots/pans near the middle/top for weight balance.
Once your bag is full, hoist your pack and test it. Is one side heavier than the other? An unbalanced pack can affect your stride and cause all sorts of back and shoulder pain.
Keep in mind, however, this is a general guideline. You may have to tweak these tips a little bit depending on what gear you decide to bring on a hike.
Please pack before you get to the trail. Believe me, I have forgotten many items and I have brought too many to fit comfortably in my pack.
Wear your pack the right way! When putting on your pack, loosen all the straps. First tighten the hip belt (which should be on your hips, not above them), and then the shoulder straps and then the load lifters (near your shoulders). Finally adjust the load stabilizer straps on the hip belt (at the back of the belt). Your sternum strap should not be tight but simply help keep the shoulder straps in position – you want to be able to breathe freely.0