How to Pack a Backpack for Hiking

The first time when I was backpacking for my hiking trip, it took me a hell lot of time. I was inexperienced and also naïve, which is why I had to leave a lot of stuff behind as there was no space in my backpack. But now I am quite happy that I learned how to efficiently pack my backpack for hiking.

It can be quite tricky for a first timer to pack their backpacks. So here I am helping you out with some of the best tips.

The backpacks that you can carry to college can also be carried for hiking and trips. And usually, they have all the space and storage you need to carry the essential items with you. However there is no specific way to pack your backpacks, but before you go ahead and start packing, remember that packing can be divided into these few zones and storages—

  • Top zone – this zone is good for the items which are bulkier than others which are important for the trail.
  • Bottom zone – the bottom zone usually should contain items which are bulky but you do not need until you reach the camp site.
  • Core zone – this zone is good for the heavy and dense items.
  • Tool storage – the tool storage is good for bigger or longer items.
  • Accessories pocket – put the items which are essential and you will need them often.

Now that you know the zones and storage, you need to know what items should be placed in which zone or storage.

Top zone items – this zone carries the items you might need during the trail. They are—

  • Water purifier
  • First aid box
  • Raincoats
  • Insulated jackets
  • Fleece pants and jackets
  • Toilet essentials

Bottom zone items – bottom zones should be loaded with items which are bulky but you do not need them until the camp. They are—

  • Down boots or camp shoes
  • Sleeping pads (the small ones)
  • Sleeping bags
  • Your sleep wears


Core zone items – this zone includes all the dense and heavy items. They are—

  • Water reservoir in case you are not opting for any mineral water bottles
  • A food stash
  • Stove
  • Cooking kit
  • A bear canister that contains all your food and all the other scented items there.

When you pack these dense items in the core zone, it helps your backpack to maintain a balance and it does not sag. When you are carrying anything liquid, say water or any kind of fuel, make sure you carefully check if the cap of the bottle is tight. Place them away from the food items. Your bulky items may shift places while you are hiking due to the few spaces available. So consider wrapping some soft items around your bulky items. That will cover the spaces and prevent the items from shifting.  You can wrap some extra clothes or some rain flies or the tent body around the items.

Tool storage – the tool storage includes the following items—

  • Large sleeping pads
  • Climbing ropes
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice axe
  • Tent poles
  • Camp chairs
  • Crampons

The accessories pocket – you can put all the essential accessories in the accessories packet. You can include these following items—

  • Cash and ID stash
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • GPS, Map and Compass
  • Lip balm
  • Snacks
  • Car keys
  • Bug spray
  • Rain cover
  • Water bottles
  • Headlamp

There are a lot of storage pockets available in the backpacks. There can be a lid pocket, side pocket, hip belt pocket and front pocket. Based on the items above you can choose which item should be in which pockets.


Carrying your backpack

When you hoist your backpack, the most common mistake you make is to lift the backpack by a shoulder strap. That may damage your shoulder harness and also you might feel uncomfortable while controlling your backpack on your shoulder. So before you hoist your backpack, loosen all the straps a little bit so that it can easily slip on.

So here I have provided you the best way to pack your backpacks while you are going for hiking. If you are a beginner, then these steps will definitely help you out. So plan adventures hiking for you in this coming weekend!