Pack your bags!
Much of packing a rucksack is down to personal preference and is something that you will get a knack for through experience, but here are a few tips and tricks to help keep the load bearable.
There are two key rules to take into consideration when packing your rucksack.
Rule 1: Pack heavy items close to your back, evenly weighted across the pack and near the top. This means you won’t feel like you’re being pulled off balance in one or other direction. It will also reduce any strain on your shoulders.
Rule 2: Items you may need should be accessible. Pack your snacks, lunch, drinks, waterproofs, hat, gloves, torch and first aid kit near the top of the bag or in the outer pockets. I pack my waterproofs and emergency equipment in the bottom compartment of my rucksack.
Other considerations, tips and tricks
Keeping things dry.
Everything in your rucksack should be protected from getting wet! You could use a big waterproof liner (heavy duty bin bags are good cheap options) or you could put everything in lots of carrier bags. If you are carrying a sleeping bag, this also should be in an extra waterproof bag as stuff sacks are not waterproof. Your rucksack may well have a waterproof cover but in persistant rain it will not be enough to keep the insides of your pack dry.
One of the most frustrating things about living out of a backpack for multiple days can be that feeling that you are spending lengths of time looking for individual items. I like to compartmentalise my packing into smaller bags e.g. one for dry/ clean hut clothing/ sleepwear, one for items I need in a hut (hut sleeping bag, towel, toilet bag, ear plugs etc.), one for rain gear etc etc. This way I know exactly where to find what and have more time and headspace for the journey.
Attaching things to the outside of the bag
The temptation when you have a full bag is to attach what can’t fit in to the outside. But be aware- anything that you hang outside is at risk of getting wet, potentially detaching and if rain does come you have to consider carefully if your waterproof cover will still fit and be effective. What I do attach to the outside is my camera (often on my waistbelt with an extra carabiner for safety….I have a habit of losing cameras) but I always make sure that I have room to pack it in in case of rain.
Your bag should weigh no more than 1/4 your body weight. If it does weigh more then you need to look at what you are packing- do you really need it all? Is there anything that you could replace for a lighter version? Can you share some items with co-hikers e.g. suncream, toothpaste,
Fitting your rucksack
Make sure your rucksack is correctly adjusted to you before you go. You can sometimes adjust the back length, and always the shoulder straps, chest straps and the position of the hip belt. Play around with it until it is comfortable -this can make a world of difference and all of a sudden you might feel a whole lot lighter.