Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Backpack:Packing your Pack

Strategically loading the items in your internal-frame pack can dramatically influence your speed, endurance, and enjoyment of an outing. With that in mind, I have compiled information from many sources to help anyone pack a their pack better.

Generally, concentrate the load on your hips and avoid loading your back and shoulders. For on-trail travel, keep the heaviest items high and close to your back. Off-trail, for better balance, pack heavy items lower down.

  • On trails, carry the load high and fairly close to the back, as this will allow your hips to take the majority of the weight. To implement this strategy, load your lightest, fluffiest articles (sleeping bag, extra clothing) in the bottom; l place the densest items (water, food, stove fuel, rope) up top, near the shoulder blades.
  • For more difficult terrain, revise your trail-packing strategy. Pack the heavy items slightly lower and ensure they are as close to the back as possible. This will force more of the load onto your back and shoulders but will lower your center of gravity and allow you to more easily keep your balance.

Quick list to packing your internal frame pack:

  1. Loosen all comression straps.
  2. Fill bottom compartment with sleeping bag and clothes.
  3. Fill main compartment with rest of gear, keeping the heaviest items high and close to your back.
  4. Put frequently used items in top compartment or top pockets.
  5. Tighten all compression straps to compress the load and keep it from shifting while you hike.

Easy access to frequently used items.

Along with arranging items in your pack for optimum weight distribution, organize them for quick access. Articles like gloves, hats, sunglasses, maps, and insect repellent, which are sometimes needed at a moment's notice, are ideally carried in side and top pockets. Such gear can also be kept handy in jacket pockets or in a fanny pack that is worn on the abdomen in combination with the main pack.Keep your contents dry.

Determine a strategy to keep your pack contents dry in rainy weather, because even packs constructed from waterproof materials are not necessarily waterproof. Water can leak through seams, zippers, pockets, the top opening, and places where the coating has worn off. Individual plastic bags or good stuff sacks can help protect pack contents, especially when you have to set up or break camp in the rain. Most pack manufacturers offer waterproof pack covers as accessories. You may also choose to simply use a large plastic trash bag as a waterproof liner inside your pack.

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