How to Pack a Backpack for Long Distance Hiking Trips

Your backpack can hold a lot more than you think, especially those that are designed for long distance hiking. However, if you do not have a clear idea on how to pack a backpack for long distance hiking trips, you would not be able to maximize the space. Also, a backpack that is packed right will be appropriately balanced. Thus, you would not sway in one direction that could potentially tire you down and ruin your hiking.

Generally speaking, a backpack of 50 kilograms capacity or more can comfortably hold all your hiking gear, tent, and essentials for those long trails that can take days, even weeks. This also applies to food and water in particular as you should have some extra just in case.

To be honest, though, there is no thumb rule to packing a long-distance hiking backpack as each person has a different need. Likewise, your situation might not be similar to the case of the other person. Nonetheless, there are always some useful tips that can help you pack your backpack efficiently.

How to Pack a Backpack for Long Distance Hiking Trips

Planning and organizing are the keys to stuffing up your backpack with all those things that you would need while making sure that the weight is distributed throughout the bag properly. With that in mind, here are some of the things that you should keep in mind:

A. List the Items that You Need to Bring

First of all, you need to make a list of everything you will need for your hiking trip. Having a list is the only way to make sure that you do not forget something necessary. Once you have gotten everything, lay it down in front of you before you start to pack.

B. Check the Different Compartments of Your Backpack

Most of the time, your backpack can be divided into different parts which are the bottom, middle, and top compartments plus accessory pockets and lash-on points.

C. Place the Right Items in the Correct Compartment

When packing the backpack, fill all the crannies and corners until there is no more space left and you can feel a full load. Again, always ensure that the weight is balanced. If one side feels heavier, reposition some stuff until you get that right balance.

  • Bottom of the Backpack

As a recommendation, the bottom of the pack should be for bulky but lightweight gear that you will not need whfen you are already on the camping site. These can include a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, sleepwear, and pair of camping shoes. Some bags have a special compartment at the bottom that can be used for holding the sleeping bag. Interestingly enough, putting in these soft and foldable items at the bottom can also provide shock absorption for your lower back.

  • Middle of the Backpack

The middle of the backpack is perfect for all that heavy stuff that is quite essential, but you will not use often. This includes most of your food stash except for snacks, all the utensils you will be using at the camping site, and the water reservoir if you are carrying one.

Use this portion for your clothing items too. Pack these foldable items in between the solid and heavy objects wherever you can find space. This essentially creates more room in the core part of the bag. This portion of the backpack can also be used for a lot of other things like a stove or even liquid fuel. However, be very careful and make sure it is tightly closed.

Packing in heavy items just above the bulky but lighter items distributes the weight nicely and makes the middle part the actual center of gravity of the backpack. If you place heavy items at the bottom, the pack would push downwards and start to sag.

  • Top of the Backpack

Most of the stuff that is left now besides small accessories will go at the top. This includes all the handy supplies you will frequently need like toilet paper rolls, all kinds of jackets, rain cover, water filter, first-aid essentials, tent body, and tent fly. To be more organized, keep the tent items first and then put all the other stuff on top of it.

  • Accessory Pockets

Never underestimate the power of the pockets as they can accommodate a lot more than most people assume. They are also best for items that you need to be accessible. However, backpacks can differ in the number, size, and kinds of pockets so it will largely depend on the backpack you have as to what you can actually keep.

Here is a small list of the things that can virtually fit in all pockets:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Lip balm
  3. Hand sanitizer
  4. Flashlight
  5. GPS
  6. Compass
  7. Keys
  8. Maps
  9. Bug spray
  10. Rain cover for the backpack
  11. Snacks
  12. Water bottles
  • Lash-On Points

The lash-on points can be used for long or oversized tools, but again, this part is something that varies from design to design. They may have compression straps, Velcro straps, lash patches, and even daisy chains. It depends on you how you can utilize these points to your advantage. However, that does not mean you latch on more than what is needed for the trip.

Here is what you can easily strap to the backpack lash-on points:

  • Tent poles
  • Trekking poles
  • Sleeping pad
  • Ropes
  • Crampons


How to pack a backpack for long distance hiking is not just about putting everything in and balancing the weight but also putting it in a way that gives you the convenience of access. That is why the general rule is pack from the least used stuff at the bottom to the most used stuff at the top. Also, make sure all the liquid stuff is closed tightly so that there are no spills inside the bag. In addition, you should pack light but never compromise on something that is essential and could be of use in an emergency.

All in all, we really hope that by now, after this guide, you can do a great job packing your backpack for your next long-distance hiking adventure.

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