How to properly pack your pack in preperation for an amazing backpacking trip

Picture of How to properly pack your pack in preperation for an amazing backpacking trip
Getting ready to go backpacking and don't know how to pack? Was the awesome-ness of your last trip diminished due to an uncomfortable/loosely packed backpack? In your inexperience, did you pack everything in a messenger bag, only to kill your shoulders by the first day? No? Only me? Well then...

After hours of HEAVY-DUTY(!) Google-ing, I think I can safely say that I can advise you, the marvelous outdoors-loving how-to fan that you are, to properly pack your pack.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Im still getting pictures and will be updating this instructable shortly. I only published it unfinished to show a teacher and a friend.

FIXED! Now with pictures!!

I made the FRONT PAGE!! :D Cross that off my bucket list!

Step 1: Gear: The Pack

Picture of Gear: The Pack
First, you must decide on a backpack. You'll have to look at your trip plan (how many days/nights will you be out, how many people are coming, how many miles you're hiking) and decide how much gear you'll need to bring. Then, pick a pack from there.

For a light hike, a "fanny pack" or something like a "sack pack" (the ones that are just bags with a draw string that you can put on your back) will do.

For an overnight stay, you'll need a larger pack. Also think about if youre bringing a tent, a sleeping bag, maby a hammock, because you may want lashing options on the pack for that.

For multiple nights, you'll want a more serious pack. look for one with a capacity of 60 to 80 liters, again, depending on what your trip looks like.
Terranan (author) 7 months ago

I feel that I must apologize for my lengthy hiatus from the site... Several months ago, I was hurt lifting something heavy at work. Threw out my back. I was placed on light duty, and the worker's comp insurance requested an MRI... And I found I have a degenerative spinal condition called a Schmorl's node. It's a divot in the top/bottom of a vertebrae that will, occasionally, displace the disk it's touching. It sucks... And my doctor strongly recommended that I stop backpacking, and unfortunately, my back has been agreeing with her. And since the bulk of my hobbies was backpacking, I kinda left Instuctables alone for a while... 10 months, I think?

But its not all bad news! My dad surprised me, recently, with a gutted camper he found for free on craigslist. He gave it to me to make something cool. I may not be able to hike much, anymore, but, someday soon, I'll have the raddest camper on the block. :p

Construction starts next week, on payday. Expect to see a build-along for it, its gonna be epic!


Wow! I go camping at kettle moraine in wi! I'm having a hard time cutting weight on my pack. I only weigh 125 so it's hard to pack according to what is comfortable to carry long distances.
Terranan (author)  heregoagain1 year ago

Could you possibly post the contents of your pack? I've had to cut weight a lot before, I may be able to help. Also, what shelter do you prefer? I've camped all of them in the northern unit, I know a lot of what's there, so you may not even have to bring certain things...

2-3 person tent
12x12 tarp
3300 pack (alps mtn)
Very little clothes
Fire starters
First aid
0 degree bag
Rain coat (very light)
2.5 L of water
Food (pretty heavy/not freeze dried)
--> that's roughly it. I cut back since I posted the question. I've been obsessing over this for a week now. It's for winter-ish camping btw.
Thanks for offering to help!
Terranan (author)  heregoagain7 months ago

Hey... its probably to late to give any advice for your winter kit, so I'm sorry for that... Stopped posting for a while, have some health issues that prevent me from backpacking, anymore. Kinda had to give it up, and logging on just kept reminding me. But, if I can still help in any way, let me know


mbainrot9 months ago

I would suggest adding a firesteel knife, they are very handy and much much much easier to strike than normal firesteel. Bare in mind that you will have to clean the blade after use as no matter how you strike it, you end up with much on the blade.

As a result
I tend to favour my army firesteel over my firesteel knife, both made
by the same mob (the other firesteel is the "scout" one which is not as
long lasting)

On the topic of fire :) I would strongly suggest
adding a pair of forcepts and a tin can full of cotton wool. The
forcepts hold the cotton wool ball (you wrap it around a little) and you
can use it to start the wick in a multi-fuel stove.

I've found that cotton wool, even without petrolum jelly, takes a spark like no tomorrow so always handy to have.

hatchet that I take with me on some occasions also has a hammer like
face on the opposite side which is great for whacking in tent pegs :) I
also tied some outdoor awning cordage to the hole in the handle so I can
use the hatchet to remove said tent pegs too.

Also your water
bladder looks like its under a lot of weight, just watch that as I've
had my water bladder "block up" and had to take it appart and put it
back together again (there was a kink somewhere, prob at the bottom
where the tube and bladder meet).

C-R-E-810 months ago
Awesome instructable but in my opinion a gerber tool swis army knife and machete is enough
Why potatoes? >:( I don't get it.
Terranan (author)  animal lover1 year ago

Small, easy to pack, bundles of carbs. :P I like to wrap them in tin foil and leave them on the outside of my fire right before I go to sleep, like right in the coals. usually when I wake up, I have baked potatoes for breakfast!

macpower2 years ago
I used to disappear into the Catskills and the Berkshires for weekend treks. The only thing I can add to this 'ible is that if you're going overnight, put the tarp, tent, and cordage on top!

Once you got that up it doesn't matter how you pack/unpack.

Let's all be careful out there!
Terranan (author)  macpower2 years ago
I put the shelter stuff on bottom, because thats the stuff I'll need latest in the day. the most frequently used items are on top for ease of acess. This works perfectly well in fair weather, however, if I'm expecting rain, tarp goes on top. Just in case.
Xthinker2 years ago
How much does your pack usually weigh? It just seems like you packed a few unnecessary things, like the hatchet... It has to weigh at least 5 pounds, but the handle is pretty sweet!
Terranan (author)  Xthinker2 years ago
I can usally keep it under 10-12 lbs with food and water for a short trip. I like my hatchet alot (made the handle myself!), but I don't usually bring it, 'cause its so heavy.
bamboojim2 years ago
you got to much junk
ArcticHI3 years ago
The Kettle Moraine? :P You from Wisconsin too? :D
Terranan (author)  ArcticHI3 years ago
Yep! I live like 20 miles from kettle moraine. Its my favorite forest! :D Ever been there?
Yeah :D Live right by it haha
Terranan (author)  ArcticHI3 years ago
Lol, thats so awesome. :p

You goin out there this fabulous summer?
Oh yeah xD I wanna go hiking a lot more :)
The first thing that I had noticed about your atrical is the picture of someone who looks to be blowing fire?! is that right? thats really cool. how did he do it, or how did you do it? this artical is really helpful and i wish i had the time and money. i cant wait for the "how to backback with you dog" you were talking about..well done Terranan!![:
Terranan (author)  instructables12345673 years ago
Thats a picture of me making a campfire. I made a little ember and put it into my tinder bundle and blew on it to get it going.

:) Im glad you like my instructable, ill deffinatly be making more!
kmpeace133 years ago
well done Terranan, I never knew there was a need for so much stuff..especially all the first aid kit! i hope to read more of your articals soon! hopefully you got an A+ in this project!!(:
canucksgirl3 years ago
Well Done! Some great tips. ;-)
Terranan (author)  canucksgirl3 years ago
Thanks! And thanks for following. :p im working on a follow up: how to backpack with your dog!