Hiking can be so freeing. Think of how exciting it is leaving behind all the conveniences of home and relegating your trusty vehicle to the driveway or parking lot!
Just living off the land and the essentials you carry on your person can be a thoroughly rewarding experience for all ages. Yet, it is not enough to choose a trail and go out. Like most trips, hiking does take some preparation.
You will need to decide how long to stay outdoors, how much you require in the way of food, and also, what basic necessities you should have close by for safety.
Of course, the trail chosen will be a certain easiness or difficulty, thus, it is important for you and your group to decide the best destination depending on everyone’s health and fitness abilities.
Some individuals do hike alone, which can be advantageous in the sense that they can do whatever they like without checking the opinions of others, but on the other hand, it can be detrimental should a problem arise. Being prepared is even more crucial and nothing should be left to chance.
Regardless of where you travel or how many people accompany you, one of the biggest problems we find about the trip is exactly how to pack a backpack.
It may look big enough at the store, but believe me, there is a lot to fit in there and if you don’t do it just right, the whole experience will become frustrating, or you will inevitably leave something behind since it doesn’t fit and you figure it isn’t important anyways. The truth is everything that is on your gear list must go, too.
Pack Your Backpack With Clothes
We find this to be one of the hardest things to put in our backpacks. Both my brother and I like our clothing to be neat and tidy and don’t necessarily want to wear wrinkled tops and bottoms. Plus, we have sweaters, light jackets, and other things to pack that do take up space. Unlike the saying that tells us to throw away our cares and pack a few pairs of shorts and a couple t-shirts, we may not be hiking in the summer, and we do need protection from bugs, as well warmth at night.
One of the best ways to get your clothes ready for packing is to roll them tightly. Make sure they are lying flat with no wrinkles, then if you are working on the t-shirt or coat, start rolling at the collar. Alternatively, you might use those plastic bags that release the air, so the clothes are even smaller. The bags work on the same principle as a vacuum system.
To continue, socks and underwear can also be rolled in the middle of a shirt or sweater. If you have enough pockets in your backpack, you might want a pair of socks handy in case of insects biting your legs, or water getting in your shoes. For pants, depending on how thick the material, they might be difficult to roll, so folding them very flat is key.
You’ll notice in the diagram that there are two important points about the clothes.
- First, they should be placed in a water tight bag or sack. This means that if rain gets on your backpack, it won’t soak your change of clothing when you need it most.
- Second, the clothes are quickly accessible for both changing and adding more layers when cool.
Another reason you want clothing handy is so that you don’t waste time and energy looking for a specific item when you need it. What invariably happens with ill prepared packing is it gets colder outside, you remove stuff from your rucksack to get at the item you need, now you can’t get your stuff packed again or you end up forgetting to put something back and you have lost it forever. By having the right system, you can avoid a lot of problems and unnecessary stress.
The same holds true of items that you want to get at regularly. For example, when you need a pick me up while walking and have to search for the snacks or beverages, it doesn’t make sense for everything to be unpacked. You’ll notice that these items are placed into pockets near the bottom and sides of the sack.
Pack Your Backpack For Hiking
Needless to say, there are many preferences for getting your gear all packed in your sack. But there are better ways than others to do it, so that the load is well balanced and as we have mentioned above, so that you have quick access to certain items.
Remember that you will be carrying this weight on your back. You want to be both comfortable and safe from injury. The load should become an extension of your own weight and body.
One thing that really frustrated us brothers when we first started out extreme walking was the fact that we didn’t know how to pack the tent in the backpack. First of all, the tent has to be very small and all the air removed, then secondly, it needs to fit in a good spot in the sack.
Take a look at the schematic and you’ll see the tent and stakes down below. This helps to keep your knapsack with the heavier things near your back area instead of the crook of your back where there is no support. Plus, you only need the tent once a day, at night when setting up camp.
Here are six more tips when setting up your sack for hiking or walking.
- Be sure to carry a first aid kit and have that near the top of the pack in a highly accessible spot.
- If you are not carrying a tent, you might put the sleeping bag at the bottom, although you do see plenty of people with their bag or pad at the top of the sack. This can be a good idea because it acts as support or protection for the head and neck.
- Make sure all spots in the knapsack are filled up. Leaving empty areas causes the load to shift which can put you off balance when walking.
- Remove cardboard boxes from items. For example if you buy moleskin to cover cuts and blisters on your feet, it might come in a box. You don’t need that box, plus it takes up space. Don’t pack it.
- Test your sack before going on any trip. You need to get used to carrying it, plus you want to determine how best to pack your own sack for your comfort.
- Don’t be tempted to buy something bigger. This is one time when bigger is not better. Think about it. The bigger your pack, the more you’ll take, and the more weight you have to carry. Walking, hiking and camping are about being minimalistic. So buy exactly what you need and put thought into what you should take with you.
How To Pack A Backpack For A Trip
It’s one thing to get ready for a day trip, but completely another when you plan to spend weeks or months on the trails. You might have to resort to using transportation such as buses, trains, and planes to get to your destination or between locations. In this case, how you pack is going to be important since your haversack is your luggage.
We admit that this infographic is quite pared down in the sense that it doesn’t have too many items to worry about. That is good because you don’t want to take so much that you are laden down. On the other hand, we have to remember that this trip was for a weekend jaunt. If you are going for any length of time, you will certainly need more clothes than seen in the graphic.
To carry more clothing, you can separate them out into plastic waterproof bags. The obvious reason is so that they stay dry, but if you organize them accordingly, you can find things easier. Try to put leggings together or try to put outfits together. Either way, this helps you get what you need quickly.
When going on any trip whether it be a weekend or six months, there is a set of items that are most likely considered necessities. These include a light weight camp stove, small pot, flashlight, a cup or flask, money belt which could hold any valuables on your person, maps or GPS, sunglasses, bug spray, lip balm, sleeping bag, ground cover, and some kind of mat to protect your body from the cold while sleeping. It might not be super cozy, but hey, you are roughing it.
Whew! That was a lot of information. Who would have thought it would be so involved to pack up for a small jaunt or large journey? The thing to remember is that we will be living away from home. Not only that, but when we don’t stay in a cabin or hotel, we don’t have anywhere to unpack. That means that having the right amount of things and the right quality of items is key to a successful trek.
And when we say quality, we are not always talking about the most expensive gear you can buy. We mean making good choices in what to carry and not having something frivolous to weight us down. But we do think we need some entertainment for those breaks during the day and resting at night before the sun goes down. You might take along a small paperback book to read or even a little puzzle book to pass the time away.
Whatever you decide to pack in your backpack, try to be as minimalistic as possible and have fun on your hike!