How To Pack A Backpack For Camping

Any experienced camper will tell you that you can’t just throw all your stuff into your backpack, put it on and say I’m ready to set off. Packing a backpack is a real science, based on weight distribution, the order of need, and of course, not forgetting anything important. So if you’re planning to go camping, firstly, you need to know how to pack backpack efficiently to be a happy camper and have a wonderful hike. If you learn to organize your camping gear properly, you’ll feel much more comfortable on the trail and it will be easy for you to find what you need when you need it. Here you’ll find all the necessary information about packing strategy that will definitely improve your overall backpacking experience.

Choose a backpack

Before starting to load up your pack, you should decide what type of backpack you need according to your hiking goals. If you’re going for a small hike, you’ll need the smallest and lightest backpack you can find that will hold all your supplies you need for your camping. If you’re going for an overnight camping trip, you’ll need a pack that can fit your sleeping gear like a sleeping tent and bag, plenty of extra water and food. By the way, you should know that the internal and external frame backpacks differ from each other. There really isn’t much reason to pick the external frame pack if you`d like a modern backpack. In most cases, the internal frame packs are going to be the best option as they tend to have larger interior volume, allow more freedom of movement, have a smaller profile compared to the external ones. But even so, the choice of the backpack will depend only on your camping goals. If you’re camping under freezing weathers, make sure to bring along a cold weather tent.

Organize what to take

After choosing a suitable backpack, lay out everything you want and need to bring in front of you and pick those items that will be useful on the trail. When you finally decide what to bring on a hike you should take a closer look and group all your gear into three categories like camping, cooking and clothing. Look once more time and answer the following three questions: Do you really need everything on the trail? Have you picked right clothes to wear when hiking? Aren’t you forgetting something? Check everything one more time!

Note: Use this backpacking checklist not to forget anything important.

Besides, think about your camping footwear in advance. Today a lot of people have flat feet or high arches. Don’t forget that comfortable walking shoes can help you with this problem. Choose just the best walking shoes for flat feet or high arches to provide maximum comfort for your foot during a camping trip.

If you make sure that you bring all necessary items, organize them into piles according to the weight. You should also get three piles, namely, a pile of heavy, pile of medium-weight and pile of small items.

Pack your backpack in the following sequence:

Pack the lightest things at the bottom

Start your packing from the bottom. Keep in mind that the bottom of your backpack is the hardest place to get to. Thus, you should start with things that you won’t need during the day. Of course, this is your camping and sleeping gear. The first things you should pack are your sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillowcase (though some backpacks even have sleeping bag compartments), and then load up your camping supplies.  

Pack the heaviest things close to your back in the middle

The heaviest items should be centered between your shoulder blades right up against your back. Right on the top of your sleeping and camping gear, you should pack heavy cooking gear, flashlight, water etc.

Pack the most important things on the top

Pack the essential items that you’ll need to have handy during your camping trip on the top section of your backpack. Some cooking supplies, clothes like a rain jacket, a first-aid kit, sunglasses, a compass or GPS, a map and snacks should be commonly packed on the top.

Attach external things

If something that you need doesn`t fit in your backpack, don`t worry! You can add these things externally by strapping to the top, sides or bottom of your backpack. Besides, you can also use the outer pockets to pack something. For example, you can attach your tent poles to the top of your pack or hang your water bottle from the side.

Check your backpack

When you’ve packed all your gear you should lift the backpack onto your body and tighten the compression straps to a comfortable fixed-position. Try to walk around and see how you feel when you carry your backpack. If you feel that you can walk with it around comfortably and you’re sure that your backpack feels well-compressed and secure enough, you’re ready to go.


In order to pack your backpack for convenience, you should pick the right well-fitting backpack, define what items you need during a hike and pack all your gear in the correct order according to the proper weight distribution. As you see, packing a backpack isn’t so easy to do, it may take some time. But if you practice more, pretty soon you can pack your backpack with your eyes closed!