Dedicated to Mara's travel and hiking adventure journals as well as her words of wisdom and suggested resources for hikers and travelers.
Loading and Fitting your Backpack
Loading you backpack
Once you know what is going in your packpack, you have to figure out the best way to load your gear into your backpack.
Your body wants to walk as upright as possible. As soon as you put weight on your back, your body is forced to lean forward to compensate for the weight and center the weight over your hips. Minimizing the degree to which you must compensate is the goal of how to position the weight within the pack.
Also, items you expect to need more frequently during the day while you are hiking are ideally positioned for easy access.
To maximize comfort, load the heaviest items as close to your body as possible. The type of terrain plays a role in determining where in the pack to position the heaviest items.
Here's a typical way I pack given that I'm on moderate terrain most of the time:
I use stuff sacks to organize some of my gear but I make sure they are large enough so that they and their contents are malleable enough to ensure I can fully fill the pack.
The top pocket gets my "day bag" that has my sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray, wallet if it's a town day, and other small items I might want to keep handy. My packcover also fits in the top pocket as do snacks I might want along the trail.
If I'm using water bottles instead of a hydration system, I store them in my side pockets.
Once loaded, I tighten all compression straps on the pack. That helps stabilize the load.
Fitting the backpack
Once the pack is fully packed, it's time to put it on.
While hiking, I adjust my straps occasionally to put more or less pressure on my shoulders or hips as I go. Sometimes I hike without my sternum strap. Changing the load lifters affects where pressure point may occur on the shoulders. While there may be an optimal adjustment for your pack, it should not be considered the only good adjustment.
Last updated, July 1, 2010.
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