How you pack your backpack will affect how it will feel when you are carrying it. The basic principle for trekking is simple: heavy items should be placed close to the back and higher up, centred on the shoulder blades. You should also pack in such a way that the items you will need most often are easily accessible and the items you will not need during the day are stored farther down.
Avoid packing items on the outside of the backpack, but if you must, use straps so the items do not hang off the bag and swing. Pack smart - do not leave any empty holes in the middle. Tighten the compression straps and the straps for the top lid to hold everything in place.
Johan Skullman offers his best advice on how to pack a backpack.
It can take a while before you get to know your backpack well enough to pack it in a way that best suits your needs.Here is a check list to follow:
• Store your sleeping bag in the bottom compartment, if your backpack has one, and preferably in a waterproof bag.
• Your bedclothes, flashlight and tent – things you only will unpack when setting up camp for the night – can be stored with your sleeping bag. Separate your tent so that you pack the tent pegs in an upright position along the sides of the backpack.
• Changes of clothing are also packed far down on the sides of the bag. Dirty clothes can be stored at the very bottom under everything else.
• Avoid attaching the ground pad to the side of the backpack. Not only could it catch on branches and tear, but it also creates a wind trap that will cause the load on your back to be uneven. Store it inside the backpack, like a standing tube, with other packing inside. This will keep it dry while and simultaneously protect the other contents in the bag.
• At the top of the pack should be the stove and wind sack so they are easily accessible during breaks.
• Store food in pack bags or plastic bags. Some people sort their food after mealtimes: breakfast, lunch or dinner. Others sort their food by day and place the majority of the food far down in the pack. No matter which system you choose, you should keep your food in separate bags so it is easier to unpack/put away.
• The side/front pockets should hold the items you want to have access to during the day: warm layers, hats and gloves, rain garments and a thermos.
• If you are carrying liquid fuel, you should not pack it where it could spill onto the food. To avoid this, pack the fuel containers upright and preferably in an outer pocket.
• The top lid can also store items you need want easily access: the backpack’s rain cover, equipment for repairs, first aid kits, stove accessories, mosquito repellent, etc. You can also keep your map and compass here if you are not carrying them in a leg or breast pocket.
Lower centre of gravity when skiing
In some situations it may be necessary to deviate from the main rule of maintaining a high centre of gravity in the pack. One example is if you know that you will be crossing extremely uneven terrain. In this case it is better to have a low centre of gravity and pack your heavy items at the bottom of your backpack. These items should also be further down in the pack and close to your back when skiing to improve your balance.
Multi-coloured pack bags make it easier to keep track of what is in your pack.