Before you take to the highways and byways for your grand adventure, you may be faced with one last dilemma. No, it’s not how to say goodbye to the dog nor is it anything to do with missing Mammy’s Sunday dinners. It concerns the growing pile of clothes, toiletries and equipment on the floor. How do you get all this stuff into one rucksack? The challenge is packing it all so that you are comfortable as you walk, so that you can find things easily and being efficient with space so that you won’t be leaving essentials behind. Yes, packing a rucksack is a skill.
Don’t panic! Here is a quick and easy guide to the perfectly packed.
The whole secret to the task is to evenly distribute the load evenly and in order of importance/ access.
The topple test – A properly packed pack can be tested by setting it down on a flat floor. If the bag falls to the left or right, then the weight is not distributed correctly, and the load will need adjusting. If the bag falls onto the front, then you have packed a bit top heavy and need to adjust the gear at the front of your bag or the load will drag you back as you walk. So weight distribution is very important when packing your bag, but bear in mind that the important and essential items need to be accessible. More about ‘the topple ‘later…
Before your big expedition, it is useful to practice the packing and to do it the same way every time. That way you know what fits and where everything is. Remember that you should not carry more than 25% of your own body weight, so dump some of the non-essentials now.
Start by packing the tent. It’s the biggest item so place it in vertically and near your back as this keeps the weight close and easier to manage. Slide the sleeping bag (snug in its waterproof case) beside the tent. Cooking items and bulkier stuff should be added next.
Place them to the front so you don’t have a pot handle sticking into your kidneys for the day. Clothes should be rolled and placed in the spaces between. Rolling is the best way to save space. Toiletries are next… Food items go to the top of the rucksack, alongside your first aid kit, waterproofs, hat and gloves and any other things which you may need in a hurry (toilet paper and sun cream!). If you are carrying liquid fuel, pop it in one of the side pockets, where it is less likely to spill on your gear and balance the weight with water bottles on the opposite side.
Now try the floor test. Once it passes the topple test, it is a good idea to trek around the room a bit and be sure that all is perfectly packed for your adventures.
A well-packed pack is something you don’t notice when admiring the astounding views and vistas of your adventure. A poorly packed one is very obvious to you and to your travelling companions.