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Maximise your comfort with a well-packed backpack

How to pack a hiking backpack

We all take to the trail for different reasons. Some for fitness and health. Others to get away from it all. And many people just love the chance to get a closer encounter with the natural world than their everyday lives allow. But whatever the reason to take a hike, enjoyment is an essential factor that keeps us all coming back for more.

One of the most common things that prevents hikers from enjoying their time in the wild is being in discomfort. That can come down to inadequate gear, poor fitness levels and bad planning. But, assuming you’ve got those factors covered, it’s also important that you use your gear correctly to ensure you are as comfortable as possible on the trail.

A badly packed backpack is a perfect example of this, and can quickly turn comfortable hiking into a laborious trudge that can often cause pain and discomfort. So, getting the weight distribution of your gear correct from the start of your hike is key. This is especially important on long routes or multi-day hikes where you’ll be carrying more gear and walking more miles.

Heavy objects should be packed in the centre of your pack and as close to your body as possible. Lighter objects can fit in around this and stay further away from your body.

How to pack a hiking backpack

As well as preventing discomfort, putting a little thought into how and where you pack your gear will also make things much more convenient when you need to access things throughout the day. Frequently used items such as snacks, water, maps, suncream and waterproofs should be packed in easy-to-access pockets at the top of your pack. And the items you won’t use until you stop hiking, like your sleeping bag, should go at the very bottom of your pack.

This isn’t an exact science, and you may find you need to play around with your packing systems to suit your needs, and to suit the gear that you are packing. But it’s a good place to start, and will help you on your way to getting more enjoyment out of every step of your hike.

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.