Astonishingly Easy: How to Pack a Camping Backpack

The Ultimate Guide to Packing a Camping Backpack

Camping is a great way to unplug from the world, soak in some peaceful outdoor vibes and enjoy a break from the monotonous everyday routine. Whether you love to go camping as a family or prefer to take solo trips, having the right gear in your backpack is essential for a stress-free experience. Knowing how to pack a camping backpack the right way will make sure that your trip is comfortable, leaving you with more time to enjoy mother nature and observe the fascinating wildlife.

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Evaluate Your Gear List

Before you start packing, create a list of items you think you will need on the trip. As a father of three kids, my list tends to get lengthy and occasionally includes item that I would never to need in the wilderness. You can judiciously edit the list and remove items that you think are not necessary and check off the essentials. The good part is, the same essentials will stay on the list for each camping trip, so you can always refer to the checklist and make the necessary changes.

Choose the Right Backpack and Pack Smart

Carrying a large backpack on camping trips has always been a hassle for me. That’s why it’s important to choose the right backpack with the right amount of storage. As someone who’s been camping for years, I’ve realized that relying on a backpack with individual compartments is more efficient. By loading these compartments with the right gear and items, you can make sure that everything is in its place, having quick access to the items in pinch.

A backpack with multiple zipped compartments

Organizing the Items by Weight

Apart from managing items within individual compartments, it is important to organize the weight in the backpack evenly. Too much pressure on one side of the backpack can throw you off balance and would possibly result in an accidental tumble. A backpack generally has a large compartment closest to your back and a few compartments on the sides, which in order should be used for much heavier items as that’s the area closest to your body, giving you maximum balance. Lightweight items such as sleeping bag, extra clothing, and supplies should be stored in the topmost compartments. I would also advice you to keep some items like a lighter, moleskin, and bandanas in your pockets for easy and fast access.

Essential Gear You Must Carry

Apart from the general items, like a tent, sleeping bag, and clothing, there are certain essential items that you mustn’t forget to pack. Here’s a checklist of the essential items:

  1. Headlamp/flashlight
  2. Fire starter
  3. Map and compass
  4. Pocket knife/multi-tool
  5. Extra Batteries
  6. First aid kit

Depending on the activities you plan on doing on your camping trip, the list may grow. But as a general rule, these items should always remain in your backpack regardless of what your agenda looks like.

Secure the Load & Distribute the Weight Evenly

It is essential to secure your load and distribute the weight of the backpack evenly. This helps in maintaining proper balance and staying comfortable regardless of the terrain. You can use the straps of the backpack to redistribute the weight in a way that all the essential items remain within reach, but also that the load is evenly distributed. A backpack with compression straps serves the purpose perfectly and can make carrying a heavy backpack feel like a walk in the park.

A backpack secured and evenly loaded

Tips that Make Your Trip a Breeze

Apart from knowing how to pack a camping backpack, there are a few tips that can make your trip stress-free and enjoyable. I found them extremely useful in my years of camping.

  • Always cover your backpack with a rainproof cover so that all your supplies remain bone dry no matter how much it pours.
  • Pack most of the things and preferably the heavy items the night before and decide which items you don’t need the next day. This saves you the last-minute rush.
  • Most camping trips require you to take a dip in the lake or stream. To make sure that your supplies stay dry, pack them in dry sacks or water-resistant bags.

Watch this helpful video to get more insights on packing the essentials for camping:


The key to having an ultimate camping experience is knowing how to pack a camping backpack. Packing items correctly and in the right order can make sure that your camping trip is relaxed and issue-free. With the right organization, you can make sure that all the essential items are in arm’s reach and your load is evenly distributed.

A man packing a backpack for camping

As always, use your experience and expertise to customize the list. Make sure that all the items you are taking are necessary and can actually add to the camping experience. After all, the more lightweight your backpack is, the better it is for you and your camping trip.