How to Pack your Backpack for the Trail.


A few tips before loading  your pack:

Spread out all of the gear you need, or think you may need, for your trip. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you have all the essentials needed and help nix that dreaded travel feeling of “what did I forget?”.

It is also a great way to visualize weight versus worth. Remove any unnecessary items to keep your pack weight as low as possible.

Humans tend to overpack when it comes to clothing, don’t. The clothing that you do bring; roll it, instead of folding, for better space efficiency.

Use compression sacks, they are your friend. Not only can they turn a big puffy sleeping bag into the size of a football, but they can also keep your gear dry if Mother Nature decides to spice up your trip.

Want another nifty space saving trick? Poke a small hole in the bags of your dry food, deflate the air, and then cover the small hole with a piece of tape.


Alright, so lets get down to it, what’s the best way to pack your gear?

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Start the packing process from the bottom and work your way up.

When it comes to sleeping bags, it’s best to use a compression sack. We like to shrink ours down as much as we can, and then store it in the bottom compartment of our bag.

If you are using a Therm-a-rest sleeping pad like the Z Lite Sol, it would be best to secure it with the straps to the bottom of your pack. Some people, however, prefer to stash it under the top lid of their packs. Try both variations and see what feels most comfortable to you.

Main compartment:

The first thing we put in the main compartment of our pack is our tent, which would be siting on top of the sleeping bag at this point.

These days we carry our bear canister with us all the time. Normally we find ourselves in bear country, but even if we’re not, there are still plenty of pesty animals that get rather intrigued with the smell of our delicious chocolate trail mix. The bear canister gets filled up before packing and then sits on top of the tent. This is important because it keeps the weight close to the spine, and gives the back optimal weight distribution. It’s also a good idea to put your toothpaste in a ziplock and toss it into your canister. Bears can sometimes confuse the smell of toothpaste or sunscreen with food, so it’s best to lock it up and keep the aromas away from your sleeping bag.

Other heavy items that should be packed in the mid center of your pack would be your cookware kit and water supply.

Now that the weight is centered on your spine, use soft items around it to secure the weight against shifting around. We normally put a compressible pillow on one side and our NeoAir mattress on the other.

The top layer of your main compartment should be your clothes. It keeps them handy if you need them in a pinch, plus keeps the heavier items in the middle of your pack from sliding up the pack.

Lid Compartments:

The Baltoro 65 pack has three compartments in the lid, and we use them all. Binos and compass in the right side compartment.


Trail mix supply and light sources go in the left compartment. Light and Food are too lovely things to have on a trail, it’s good to keep them as handy as possible.


The compartment on the inside of the lid is a great spot to house your emergency kit. Band-aids, friction sticks, and moleskin can be worth it’s weight in gold. Hiking out of the Grand Canyon, I started getting hot spots on my feet 1/4 of the way out. These items truly saved me. Altoid boxes make great little storage containers. We keep a small supply of batteries handy in ours.


External Pocket:

Use the external pocket to hold items such as your raincoat, fleece, and your pack’s raincover. We also toss in a can of bug spray and a bottle of sunscreen into this pocket.



Side Pocket:

Use the side pocket and it’s compression straps to secure your tent poles.


External Loops:
Use the external loops to hold your trekking poles. Some bags can also accommodate ice axes.
Hip Pockets:

Most bags give users two pockets on the hip. One waterproof pocket for your phone, and another to keep a cliff bar or some trail mix handy.

Final tip: Don’t forget the duct tape.
Wrap a few strands of duct tape around your water bottle and/or trekking poles. It can be a lifesaver out on the trail under a variety of circumstances. Just remember, duct tape fixes everything. At least that’s what grandpa always said.nalgeneDon’t believe Grandpa about the duct tape? The crew at Backdoor Survival posted quite a few intriguing ways to harness your duct tape powers.

34 Uses of Duct Tape for Survival and Emergencies

Repair a tent:   You open your tent at the campsite and oops — a little tear. No problem as long as you’ve brought your duct tape along. Cover the hole with a patch; for double protection mirror the patch inside the tent. You’ll keep insects and weather where they belong.

Make a rope: Twist one or several lengths of duct tape into a cord or rope. Of course paracord would be a lot better and you do have some of that, right?)

Make a clothesline:  Twisting a long piece of Duct tape makes a great piece of rope to use as a clothesline.

Hold the feathers in your sleeping bag: If you have a hole in your down sleeping bag, you can patch the hole with duct tape.  No more feathers flying out all over the place.

Reseal packages of food:  Use duct tape to seal up partially opened packages of food.  Fold over the top of the package and seal it tight with a piece of duct tape. Works for cans, too.  Simply fashion a lid out of duct tape.

Hold your tent closed: A damaged zipper could leave your tent door flapping in the wind. Stick the door shut, and keep the bugs and critters out.

Splint a broken tent pole or fishing pole: Tape a stick to the broken area of your tent pole or fishing rod, and you might just get one last adventure out of it.

Catch pesky flies:  Roll off a few foot-long strips of duct tape and hang them from a branch or your tent or cabin rafters. The DT serves as flypaper and when you depart, you can roll up the tape to toss it in the trash.  No need to use nasty chemicals, either.

Repair your water bottle: Have a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder? A little strip of duct tape to the rescue. Be sure to dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place since most forms of duct tape don’t stick to wet surfaces. You can also wrap plastic water bottles with duct tape to prevent cracking and leaking.

Make a spear: Strap your knife to a pole and you have a trusty spear to fend off beasts, or make one into your dinner.

Create a shelter: With some trash bags and some duct tape, and you have a survival shelter roof, or sleeping bag cover, a wind break, or well, there are kits of possibilities.

Wrap a sprained ankle:  If you trip and sprain your ankle, wrap the ankle with duct tape to give it some support.

Make butterfly bandage strips: Cut two small strips of DT, and add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.

Make a sling: Fold a length of DT down the middle, so that it is half the original width and no longer exposing a sticky side. Use the strap to make a sling for a busted arm.

Affix bandages: Place a sterile dressing over your wound, and strap it in place with DT.

Create a splint: A broken ankle or leg can be stabilized with ample splint material, padding and duct tape. Pad the crotch of a forked branch with some cloth and duct tape to fashion a quick crutch to go with your splint.

Make a bandage: Fold tissue paper or paper towel to cover the wound and cover this with duct tape.

Make a temporary roof shingle: If you have lost a wooden roof shingle, make a temporary replacement by wrapping duct tape in strips across a piece of 1/4-inch (6-millimeter) plywood you’ve cut to size. Wedge the makeshift shingle in place to fill the space. It will close the gap and repel water until you can repair the roof.

Fix a hole in your siding:  Has the stormy weather damaged your vinyl siding? A broken tree limb tossed by the storm, hailstones, or even an errant baseball can rip your siding. Patch tears in vinyl siding with duct tape. Choose tape in a color that matches your siding and apply it when the surface is dry. Smooth your repair by hand or with a rolling pin. The patch should last at least a season or two.

Tape a broken window:  Before removing broken window glass, crisscross the broken pane with duct tape to hold it all together. This will ensure a shard does not fall out and cut you.

Mend a screen:  Have the bugs found the tear in your window or door screen? Thwart their entrance until you make a permanent fix by covering the hole with duct tape.

Repair a trash can:  Plastic trash cans that are blown over by a storm or frozen in an ice storm often split or crack along the sides.  Repair the tear with duct tape. Just be sure tape over the crack both outside and inside the can.

Make a belt:  Run a piece of DT through your belt loops and stick it to itself in the front. Overlap it about 4 or 5 inches and you’ll still be able to peel the belt apart when nature calls.

Repair your glasses:  If your glasses break while you are out in the wilderness, tape them up.  You might look a bit nerdy but at least you will be able to see.

Fix your rain gear: Keep the dry stuff dry, and keep the water out, by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips of duct tape.

Repair your clothing:  Repair rips and tears in your clothing by slipping a piece of tape inside the rip, sticky side out, and carefully pressing both sides of the rip together. The repair will be barely detectable.

Add extra insulation in your boots:  Make your winter boots a little bit warmer by taping the insoles with duct tape, silver side up. The shiny tape will reflect the warmth of your feet back into your boots.

Hem your pants:  No time to hem your new jeans?  Fake it with a strip of duct tape. The new hem will last through a few washes too.

Make handcuffs:  Create handcuffs for the bad guys by taping their hands together around a tree to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others.

Mark a trail: Use duct tape to blaze a trail or signal for rescue, especially if your DT is brightly colored or reflective.

Make emergency repairs on your Bug Out Vehicle: Repair leaking hoses, broken tail lights, windows that don’t stay and even bullet holes with strips of duct tape.

Hang perimeter or security lights:  String lights around your camp with a rope make of duct tape.

Make a disguise:  Using trash bags and leaves, fashion a disguise then hold it all together with duct tape so that you can hide in plain sight.

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