With everything you need to get out in the wild on your back, it is important to pack your backpack properly. Today I share my top five tips on what to consider.

1. Find a backpack that suits you

Together with your boots, the backpack is your most important purchase as a hiker. Make sure you have a model that suits you. Features such as stable support belt and adjustable back length make the backpack sit well and thus help facilitate comfort on long hiking days. Then consider other functions that are more based on personal preference, such as how many pockets there are, if you can fasten walking poles to the outside and if it comes with rain cover etc…

Read More: Big Buying Guide – How to choose the right hiking backpack

2. Don’t pack things on the outside

Make sure you have a sufficiently sized backpack so that everything you need will fit inside your backpack. Otherwise there is a great risk that anything that you attach to the outside will get stuck in branches, fall off, break or disappear for some other reason. This can be costly on the trail and not just for your pocket. The only thing I recommend to have on the outside of your backpack is socks that need to hang to dry – but then you should attach them with safety pins so that they do not risk being lost.

Reader Question: Can I fasten my stove to the outside of my backpack?

3. All nice-to-have things are left at home

If you are going to hike far, it means a whole lot of footsteps to do. And for every one of the steps that you run around with unnecessary things on your back, it’s unnecessary energy that you get rid of. Be sure just to pack with you what you know how to use, what you will actually use and have one thing for each reason. For example, you do not need both a flashlight and a headlight. You do not need both a wool sweater and a thin down jacket – they both function as mid-layers.

Read More: Packing list for mountain hiking

4. Use waterproof packing bags

Packing bags or ‘drybags’ are hugely underestimated and I wish I saw them in the backpacks of all hikers. Especially the waterproof ones with opening that you roll together and especially in different colours. This is for the simple reason that you will find it easier and faster to find what you need in a large hiking backpack if you have this kind of system. For example – red packing bag for underwear/baselayers, green packing bag for food, blue packing bag for garbage. And it is a comfort to know that everything you have with you will be dry regardless of the degree of rainfall during your hike.

5. Pack properly inside the backpack

Probably the most important point. Pack your backpack. Unpack and unpack and unpack and unpack. Do it the same way every time. In the end, you know with a blind fold on where the things you need are. It is worth it, to be able to quickly set up your tent camp when you arrive, smoothly get away in the morning and quickly find what you need during the hiking day. It is important to be able to quickly get a first aid kit if an accident happens or easily reach your waterproof or rain cover if you are surprised out on the mountain.

Things you don’t need often should go at the bottom. Like your tent, sleeping bag and nightwear. In the middle, the things you need during the day, and above all of that, the things you need to be easily accessible often and at all times. This can be a rain cover or an extra wool sweater to put on during a break. Side pockets can hold easy to access things you need often – water, snacks, map, compass and first aid kit. It is good also to have your stove and cooking utensils readily available. Try packing the heaviest things closest to the spine and higher up in the backpack so you create a good centre of gravity.

As a shameless advertisement for my own book, I can tell you to buy the book Vandra where I share even more packing tips and packing lists for pilgrimage or multi day hikes, day trips and mountain hiking.

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