Tech Notes

How to Pack Your Internal Frame Backpack

How to pack heavy gear

A properly-packed backpack can feel lighter than it actually is. For trail hiking and gentle terrain, pack heavy gear high and close to your back (Fig. B). Next, layer in medium weight gear, then light gear farthest from your body. This will keep the pack in line with your center of gravity without having to lean forward excessively. For more extreme terrain, or when climbing or skiing with a heavy pack, drop the heavy items down to the middle of your back (Fig. A) and layer out the lighter gear. You will have to lean forward more to keep the weight in line with your center of gravity, but the balance is better as your pack will not be as top-heavy.

General Pointers:

Always start by packing your sleeping bag into the bottom of your pack (do not hang it on the outside). This serves as a good base for the rest of your load, and all of your other gear will help compress the bag. Packing heavy gear is easier if you lay the pack horizontally and fill around it with lighter gear. Keep a pile of clothing and other soft gear to fill any vacant spaces created by hardware. Jandd stuff and stash bags can be purchased to color-code gear and make organization easier; this is especially useful in larger packs. Bulky items like ropes, tent poles, and foam pads can be attached to the exterior lash points of the pack, but remember to keep your center of gravity and balance in mind. For exterior gear, the best place is under the side compression straps. The top of the pack is good for light items, such as foam pads. Only as a last resort do we recommend putting gear on the bottom of an internal frame pack, for it can interfere with walking and will feel like more weight than it actually is (it pulls the load out of line with your center of gravity).


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