Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pack Packing

Article Contributed by: Learning Adventures

Packing your pack well, right from the start of your expedition, will reduce uncomfortable moments and repacking time. Ok, as a rule of thumb, the safe amount of weight you should carry on your back is 10-20% of your own body weight. But if you're on a hiking expedition, you'd most probably bend this rule..... a lot! Here are some popular tips on pack packing:

Weight distribution is critical to comfort and ease of travel.

By loading heavier items, closer to the center of the back, improves balance and endurance for general hikes.

For terrain that involves boulder walking, or any type of hike that has lots of twisting, ducking and large steps, pack the heavy items down around the kidneys.

*But in reality, you won't be stopping and repacking every time a terrain changes. So pack more for the general terrain of the day.


A : Accessible (Pack important items like medication, first aid kit, maps, rain jacket etc. within reach)

B : Balanced (Balanced packing is important to avoid shoulder aches and is much safer when walking on steeper terrain, e.g. boulders)

C : Compressed (Compress sleeping bag and clothing. Fill up empty spaces with items like socks and spare shirt. This would reduce rattling sounds and leave you with more space!)

D : Dry (Have a liner in the pack. Use thick XL rubbish bags for this. This will water proof anything in the inside of the bag! This means you don’t need a rain cover for your pack anymore). Click this hyperlink to read more!

E : Everything Inside (Keep ropes, mugs, jackets, plastic bags and water bottles inside the pack to avoid snags from branches. It also looks like you have an organized pack!)

F : Food above fuel (Fuel to be packed at the bottom or on the outside in case of spills)

Putting On and Taking Off a pack:

Loosen all straps on your pack.

Back strains are terrible to have on your expedition. So straighten your back as you lift the pack. Rest it on your thigh. Slip one shoulder through the shoulder strap, and swing the pack around on to your back. Slip your other shoulder in and fasten the waist belt. This technique reduces the chances of a back injury as the primarily lift was with your legs.

Tighten all straps so that the majority of the weight rides on your hips.

*All straps should be unclipped when crossing a river (water level above your knee)!! This is a safety issue!

To remove pack, reverse the process. Packs should never be dropped. This can cause ruptured food bags or do worse damage. During rest breaks, look around for logs or rocks where you can park your pack and get in and out of it without lifting.

Use chest straps. These straps help by allowing better blood circulation to your arms. If you start to feel a tingling sensation on your hands, the shoulder straps might be too tight, or your pack is too heavy, cutting off circulation to your arms. Rearrange your pack to distribute the weight, and use the chest straps.

Packs should be snugged to your back. Try not to pack items below the hip level. This can be an annoyance when hiking with something knocking on your behind!


  • Distribute the weight of your pack according to the terrain that you will be hiking in.
  • Use the ABC's of Pack Packing, as a guideline.
  • Lift all heavy items, including packs, with your back straighten.
  • The majority of the pack's weight will be on your hips. This should reduce shoulder strains.
  • Get a good and reliable pack.