Pro tips for packing your backpack for hiking

Have you ever heard of a friend who can pack his backpack so efficiently that it can gulp up a vast amount of gears, even more than you can imagine? Did you always wonder how he knows what goes where? The answer to this question is pretty ambiguous because there are no definite rules to pack up your backpack. 

If you hike frequently, you must have already tried various packing techniques. But have you come up with any rule of thumb? No? 

That’s why you’re here. Let’s give you tried and trusted instructions on how to pack a hiking backpack.

Backpack’s different packing zones 

You should divide your pack into different zones where you can place various items. Here are a few details for you to consider when packing different things in the labeled zones.

Tip 1: The bottom zone 

In the bottom zone, you are going to place the items that you won’t need before making your camp. These items can be bulky as well and may include the following. 

  • Sleeping pad (that you can roll up)
  • Sleeping bag (you might find a small compartment for this in your backpack right in the bottom) 
  • Down booties/camping shoes
  • Any other layers of long underwear (the ones in which you are planning to sleep)

Packing such gear will add a shock-absorbing layer right at the bottom of the pack.

Tip 2: The core zone

The dense or heavy items that you will not need while you are hiking are going to get into this zone. These include: 

  • Cook kit
  • Stove
  • Food stash (not your snacks) 
  • Bear canister (fill it up with all the aromatic items and any other bulks)
  • Water reservoir (unless you will use water bottles)
  • Liquid fuel (make sure that it is tightly sealed) 

These bulky items will create a strong core, and it will provide your backpack with a steady center of gravity. It will direct the load downwards (not backward). You can use soft items such as rainfly, tent footprint, tent body, and any extra clothing to wrap around these hard items.

Tip 3: The top zone

The bulky trail essentials will go in the top zone. These items include:

  • Pants and fleece jacket
  • Insulated jacket
  • Kit for first-aid
  • Rain jacket
  • Water purifier and filter
  • Toilet supplies

You can also stash your tent tarp or rain fly in this zone for quick access in case you suddenly hit a rainy condition. 

Tip 4: Accessory pockets

This section is where different packs vary from each other. You will find some bags with lid pockets while others will come with zippers. But backpacks do come with a range of pockets on the front, on the sides, and the hip belt. Some of these pockets will have many small pockets inside. These enable you to place your smaller essentials with ease. These essentials may include:

  • Compass
  • Maps
  • GPS
  • Goggles 
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • Snacks
  • Rain cover
  • Water bottles
  • Cash stash
  • ID
  • Car or any other keys
  • Tools etc

The items you can include here vary according to your needs and requirements. 

Tip 5: Lash-on points

Most backpacks are designed in a way that allows you to strap on your gear outside the pack for easy access. The items you can include here are: 

  • Tent poles
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice ax
  • Large-sized sleeping pad
  • Crampons
  • Climbing rope

Again the articles here can vary according to your requirements and preferences.

Backpacking FAQs

Why are there so many straps on my backpack?

These straps keep all the innards of your backpack compressed inwards and make sure your bag has a tight center of gravity. It will contribute a lot in allowing you to hike with ease. You need to make sure that you have buckled them all before you start your hike.

What do I need to prevent over-packing?

Once you are on the trail, your backpack will become your extension. Keep in mind that less is more if you want to remain comfortable while on your adventure. Lay down everything you are considering to place into your pack. 

Now separate the necessities from the luxuries. Move all the n necessities into the pack first and then start placing the luxuries. To make room, you need to cut down on luxuries. Keep cutting them out until everything fits in well.


What do I need to keep in mind for packing my backpack comfortably?

Make sure that you maintain your center of gravity; it will contribute a lot to your overall comfort. Pack the denser, heavier items close to your back, and the lighter items close to your shoulders.

Should I use compression sacks for backpacking?

Why not! Smart packing is not about putting all your gear where it needs to be. You can always make some extra room in your available space, and this is where compression sacks come in handy. You can quickly get rid of the excess air from the load. With more space, you will get room to place stuff.


Is there any way I can prepare my backpack for wet or rainy conditions?

Yes, in fact, you can do so with ease! You can use a rain cover for your backpack, and this can prove to be your first defense against any rain surprise. The rain cover will prevent the outside of your bag from getting wet. Therefore, you need to place it in your front pouch for the time when you need it quickly. 

Apart from that, you can use compression sacks. As we have mentioned above, a variety of different compression sacks are water-resistant. These sacks will keep your pack dry from the inside.

Final Words

Make a checklist and take notes of everything that worked and anything that didn’t so you can use it for the next trip. When you are done with packing, the backpack’s weight needs to be well balanced. It is going to be on your back for a long so it should feel comfortable and light.