How to Pack a Camping Backpack for Your Next Adventure
Camping trips can be an incredible experience, especially when you’ve taken the time to properly plan and pack the right gear. For some of us, that means getting out the old tent and sleeping bag, and for others, an exploration of the backcountry with a tent, supplies, and a properly packed camping backpack. As a father of three kids who’s been camping my entire adult life, I’ve developed my own tips and tricks for packing a camping backpack, and in this blog post, I’ll share my secrets so you can be sure to have a great adventure when you head into the woods!
Step 1: Consider What Items you Will Need
The first step when packing your camping backpack is to think through what items you might need. This will depend on how long the trip will last and the type of environment you’ll be camping in. Consider the following items:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad or mattress
- Clothing for all weather
- Camping stove and fuel canisters
- Food and snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Map and compass
- First aid kit
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Water filter and purifying tablets
You’ll also want to be sure to pack some personal items like your cell phone, wallet, and any special items you need for medical reasons. Of course, you can add anything else you feel is necessary for your individual trip. For example, if you’re a fisherman, don’t forget your rod and lure kit.
Step 2: Organize your Gear
The next step is to organize your gear. You’ll want to separate the items into categories like clothing, food, and tools. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it can make it much easier to find things once you get to your campsite. Separating your gear into individual stuff sacks is a great way to keep things organized. You can also label the stuff sacks to make it even easier. Here’s an example of how to categorize your gear:
- Clothing: shirts, pants, socks, underwear, gloves, hat, etc.
- Food: breakfast, lunch and dinner food, snacks, cookware for meals, etc.
- Tools: tent, sleeping pad/bag, flashlight, map, compass, multi-tool, first aid kit, etc.
If you’re a beginner camper, it’s helpful to lay out all of your gear and make sure you have everything you’ve listed before you start packing. This way, you’ll be sure to bring everything you need, and you won’t be forgetting anything important.
Step 3: Pack the Backpack
Now that you’ve got all your gear organized and you know what you’re taking, it’s time to start packing the backpack. The key to successfully packing a camping backpack is to put the heaviest items low and towards the center of the pack. This helps to evenly distribute the weight and keep the backpack from sagging. The following items should all be on the bottom: sleeping bag, tent, stove and fuel, water filter, and any heavy clothing. If you’re using a top-loading backpack, make sure to fill the bottom of the bag first before closing the top.
Once you’ve loaded the bottom items, it’s time to fill in the middle and top of the backpack. Put items that you will need to access quickly in the top, and fill in the middle with anything else you can fit. Make sure to use any straps or external attachment loops to secure items like sleeping pads or sleeping bags to the outside of the pack. If your pack has compression straps, you can use these to internalize the load and make things more comfortable.
Step 4: Packing Tips
Here are a few more tips to make sure you have a successful trip:
- If you’ve got room in the top of the pack, fill it with lighter items like clothing or snacks.
- Bring a few large, zip-top bags as an easy way to keep items like clothes or food separate.
- Put frequently used items in external pockets so they’re easier to access.
- Distribute the weight evenly between both sides of the pack.
- Bring two water containers: one for drinking and one for washing dishes.
- Bring a small towel for wiping down yourself and your gear.
Step 5: Tighten Your Load
The last step is to make sure everything is tight and secure. If your backpack has compression straps, use them to secure the load. This will help to evenly distribute the weight and make it easier to carry. If possible, try on the backpack with all of your gear and make sure it fits comfortably and isn’t too heavy. If you need to adjust the straps, take the time to make sure it’s perfect before heading out.
Now that you’ve finished packing the camping backpack, take a few minutes to watch the following video for a few extra tips and tricks.
Packing strategically is the key to an enjoyable and successful camping trip, and by taking the time to prepare, you’ll be sure to have a great time exploring the great outdoors!