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How to Pack a Hiking Backpack for a Fun Weekend This Season

Priscilla Greene |

Many young people prefer to go hiking for a day or two during their winter holidays. Whether you visit a foreign country or head to some beautiful places in your area, you always need a solid travel backpack to carry all your gear and personal items. Hiking is all the rage right now if you and your family (or group of friends) want to shake off the sedentary office life you spent all year long. Moreover, some people are forever in love with mountains, an active lifestyle, and the joys of spending time outside. For all of you, we have today a short tutorial on how to pack a hiking pack for a weekend of outdoor fun!

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack for a Day of Nature Fun – The Basics

The first thing you should consider is to get a solid backpack for your hiking adventure. Even if you go hiking only for a weekend and dismiss the idea of sleeping in a tent in a snowy forest, you still need to be ready for everything. You can always include a two-day or a weekend hiking trip when you spend your winter holiday skiing or having a lovely time off, even abroad.

The best backpack to meet your needs and exceed your expectations should be large to accommodate your gear and personal items, solidly built, and preferably waterproof, especially if you hike in snowy areas. You can pick up a Squadron Pack Backpack for your hiking needs (and your urban activities once you come back from your trips), or an Easy-Travel Wheeled Backpack for the most versatile of travels.

As for waterproofing, you can buy a contractor bag to line the interior of your backpack before you start packing.

The more protection against moisture your backpack (and belongings) have, the better and safer your trip will be!

Now let’s move on to the essential things you need to know about how to pack a hiking backpack:

  • Break your packing process into three main zones: the bottom zone of the bag, the mid zone, and the top zone;
  • Do not forget about the backpack’s pockets and side storage areas;
  • Layering should be your primary goal;
  • Make sure you always fill the smallest of nooks and crannies until you get a stable load;
  • Weigh your backpack and check it for balance – your pack should not shift when you hike.

Now let us delve in the packing process of the three areas mentioned above while sharing with you some pro tips and tricks on how to pack a hiking pack for one-day trips.

How to Pack the Backpack Bottom Zone

You should dedicate this area to heavier items that add stability to your backpack. Include here one or more of the following:

  • Soft layers of clothing to change for the next day of the trip or dress even warmer for your winter adventure.
  • In case you spend the night in a hotel, villa, or cabin, take a soft fleece blanket to make sure you get the warmth you need; it also goes at the bottom of your backpack.
  • An extra pair of shoes if you need to change en route or want to wear something more comfortable at the hotel/motel than your hiking boots.
  • Long, thicker layers that you plan to sleep in – long underwear, a training suit, loungewear, etc.

If you pack soft and voluminous gear and items at the bottom of your backpack, you create a shock-absorption padded system that prevents pain and stress occurring against your back and especially lower back area.

How to Pack the Mid Zone of Your Backpack

Reserve this area for the heavy gear you will not particularly need during your hikes, but preferably in breaks or the night you spend at your accommodation:

  • A 12 pack cooler lunch bag to keep your food and refreshments, snacks, and other items you need to store safely;
  • A travel kit containing non-emergency medicine and other similar supplies, your toiletries for the night and next day, other personal things you do not want to misplace, and more;
  • Extra clothing in case you need some;
  • Your camera bag (if you carry it strapped from your neck or keep it in an outside backpack pocket for easy access). Take advantage of the space the camera bag offers and fill it to the brim with items you consider necessary to bring along your trip. It can easily carry an e-reader if you want to spend a quiet evening at the hotel or other gadgets and supplies, like a power bank or a small tablet.

A pro tip on how to pack a hiking backpack is to gather solid, bulky, and heavy items at the center of the bag. They create a stable gravity center, helping you carry the weight easier. Make sure you wrap bulky, irregular items in soft layers of clothing to prevent injuring your back while hiking.

How to Pack the Top Zone of Your Backpack

You will access the area frequently, so you should gather here the bulky essentials of your trip. The category can include:

  • An insulated/waterproof jacket;
  • The backpack cover in case you need it on the spot;
  • Head protection – beanie or hat;
  • The first-aid kit (which is different in content from your travel kit packed with other medication and personal items);
  • A roll of garbage bags if you stop for lunch in a clearing (they work well to store and separate today’s changed clothes from the other clothes in the bag);
  • A pack of snacks to keep you energized until the next break.

What and How to Pack Front, Side, and Accessory Pockets

Hiking and travel backpacks come with plenty of front, side, and other accessory pockets. In case you have one with a laptop pouch/sleeve (and you do not carry your notebook while hiking), use it as well to store your smaller essentials:

  • Insulated drink bottle to keep your tea warm while en route;
  • Water bottle;
  • Sunglasses and a small can of sunscreen – even if you hike in winter, the sun can be deceiving and cause you burns; do not forget your lip balm to protect you against cold-induced dry skin and lip cracks;
  • Phone (put it in a protective case);
  • Car keys and personal documents (ID, passport) – you may consider stashing them safely inside a small, flat, and zippered travel pouch; alternatively, if you want to keep your utmost essential items (wallet, documents, phone) within reach, you can use a zippered fanny pack with pockets.
  • A map of the area you go through;
  • Some pro hikers also take a GPS or a compass in case there is no phone service in the woods;
  • A headlamp for safe hiking when darkness falls;
  • More snacks.

How to Pack a Hiking Backpack – Some Pro Tips

Even if you hike for a day to reach an accommodation and then come back or continue your adventure in a different direction, hiking requires some knowledge and skills. Here are some more pro tips on how to pack a backpack for an unforgettable city-break or weekend:

  • Check the weight of the bag before you leave – it should not weigh more than 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight;
  • If you hike in a group, spread the load evenly among you;
  • If you walk on an easy terrain, achieve better posture by packing the heavier items a little higher from the bottom of the backpack; if the path is hard, place the dense, heavy items as low as you can, to give you more balance;

  • Use colored stuff sacks to pack and unpack your gear efficiently. Use polyester medium drawstring bags to organize all items by category and color (first aid into the red drawstring bag, changed clothes into the black one, new clothes into the white one, etc.). Color makes things easier to spot when you are in a hurry. Also, make sure you do not stuff the bags as some level of play makes them easier to gather and squeeze into gaps, nooks, and crannies. Pick polyester for the stuff sacks as it is resilient to moisture, wear, and tear.

Final Thoughts

Now that we learned together how to pack a hiking backpack for your weekends of outdoor fun and adventure, feel free to share with us your packing tips, tricks, and ideas! Have you decided where you go hiking this season?