How to Pack for the Outdoors

If you are back-country camping, here are a few travel tips to efficiently pack your backpack with camping gear without being weighed down.

The necessities

  • Backpack
  • Tent (unless you don’t mind sleeping under the stars)
  • Water purification resource
  • Sleeping bag (down-filled bags compact nicely and are lighter)
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Fire source (matches/lighter/flint)
  • First aid kit
  • Food and water
  • Extra clothes
  • Map/Compass
  • Hiking boots
  • Knife

1. Pack the things you won’t use until nightfall near the bottom of your bag. Tent and sleeping bag should be near the bottom–they are not too heavy but the weight for these will sit on your hips, making your backpack easier to carry.

2. Next is the extra clothes–these you might use when night falls or the temperature drops at higher elevations.

3. Food and water on top of the bag and close to your spine.

4. In the side and top compartments, put the items that are smaller/lighter and that you will need access to easier. Things such as your fire source, water purification, first aid kit, map/compass, and your headlamp.

The nice-to-haves

  • A sleeping pad–give yourself a barrier between the hard ground and your bag. Consider a closed-cell foam pad (less expensive, but takes more space) or a self-inflating pad (more expensive, but takes less space).
  • Stove (with a pot)
  • Spork (saves space and weight)
  • Rope
  • Insect repellant
  • Camera and GPS
  • Toiletries

1. Pack the sleeping pad on the bottom of your bag with your sleeping bag.

2. Put the stove in between your extra clothes and food.

3. Slide the rope into a side compartment, along with the insect repellant

4. Camera and toiletries can fit in the top compartment.

To save on space, put items that can be safely stored inside another, such as matches or snacks inside the pot.

Ideally, the backpack should sit comfortably on your hips and nothing should be moving around inside or causing yourself to be off-balance. As you hike, the backpack should fit your body.  Adjust the chest and hip straps until the bag feels comfortable.

For more packing tips, equipment, and checklists, check out sites such as REI and MEC.


About Kait C (88 Articles)
I'm working on see the entire world, one country at a time…31 down, 165 to go. Currently in Berlin.

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