Yes, as the headline goes, this text will be about how to pack your backpack. Is it really needed? How hard can it be? It is actually harder than you might first think and a backpack packed properly will make the hike both easier and more fun. This text will be based on a slightly longer hike with an overnight stay in a tent, but the principle is the same for a day trip.
/ Alexander Stenfeldt, outdoor ambassador at @jkpg 2021.
Buying a backpack
Before you can start packing, you need a backpack. There are lots of models and brands and it is impossible to say which one is best because it is very individual. Therefore, I recommend that you visit a well-stocked outdoor store and try it out. The most important thing is that the backpack fits well and fits you, so it is worth taking a little extra time in the store to try one out. Also make sure that you get to test the backpack with packing in because the comfort of a backpack differs a lot when it is empty compared to fully packed. The backpack should be the last thing you acquire.
Many people make the mistake of first buying a backpack (which is often too large) and then filling all available space with gadgets. Instead, start by finding out what you will actually need to take with you and how much space it will take, then buy a backpack that holds these things. That way, you will not unknowingly carry around a lot of unnecessary stuff just because there was room in the backpack. At Naturkompaniet in Jönköping, you can also rent a backpack, the perfect way to test a model before you decide to buy.
Keep contents dry
A backpack should, in addition to helping you carry your equipment, make sure to keep your things protected from the weather and wind. Setting up your tent after a long day of hiking and realizing that the sleeping bag is wet is not fun. We will therefore start with how to keep your gasket dry. The backpack itself provides some protection against moisture but will not provide absolute protection. Therefore, it is important to protect, for example, extra clothes and sleeping bags further.
The two most common ways to do this are either by using some type of "liner". A "liner" is really just a large waterproof bag that is pulled on the inside of the backpack and which you then put the gasket in. This way you get an extra shell and everything becomes waterproof. "Liners" are available in many different designs, but it is just as easy to use a larger garbage bag. The advantage of this is that everything is protected from water and that it is usually the easier alternative. If you use some type of garbage bag or bag, it is also a very cheap solution. The disadvantage is that since they are usually made of thinner plastic, they are also more sensitive to wear and tear and break more easily.
The other option to keep the contents dry is to use waterproof packing bags for what needs to be dry. These packing bags are also available in quantities on the market. The advantage of packing bags is you can organize your things better; sleeping bag in one, change in one etc. The disadvantage is that packing bags weigh a little more (not so much though) and that these are a little more expensive to buy.
Once you have solved the problem of keeping the equipment dry, its time for the packaging itself. There are two important principles to adhere to when it comes to the packaging itself; to pack in the order in which you will use your equipment during the day and to pack the heaviest things high up and near the shoulder blades. Packing the heavier things close to the back helps maintain balance and counteracts the feeling of the backpack pulling you backwards. A common mistake that many people make is to attach, for example, the tent to the outside of the backpack, which will give a leverage effect where the backpack will feel much heavier than it is. I therefore always start with the sleeping bag that is packed in the bottom, for the sake of simplicity I usually pack my sleeping clothes in the foot box on the sleeping bag, that way they are always there when I need them. After this comes the sleeping pad, I pack the tent standing in the middle of the backpack to get as good balance as possible and the space around the tent I fill with extra clothes, food and other equipment evenly distributed. At the top are kitchens, reinforcement garments and food for the day. Many backpacks also have pockets on the outside, here I always have first aid, water, a headlamp and some snacks. Try it out and find what works best for you and when you have found a way to pack, do the same thing every time. It's worth it when you wake up in the middle of the night to know exactly in which pocket you have your headlamp or your first aid kit.
Put on your backpack
Okay, now you've got a backpack, you've packed it and are ready to go on an adventure. Now all that remains is to actually put on your backpack and go out. Depending on how much packing you have, this can be easier or harder.
I always wear my backpack as follows:
1. Release all buckles and straps on the backpack to its extreme positions.
2. Grab the handle at the top of the backpack and lift it up either on a larger rock or on my knee. In this way, I do not use my back to get it up from the ground and reduce the risk of a stretch or the like.
3. With the backpack on my knee, I put on one shoulder strap and swing over the backpack so that I can also wear the other.
4. Put on my hip belt. The weight of the entire backpack should be on the hip bone. When you tighten the hip belt, you should be able to release the grip and the backpack and it should hang completely free on the hip.
5. Tighten the shoulder straps. These should hardly carry any weight but the purpose is just to keep the backpack close to the body.
6. Tighten the chest strap.
7. Adjust the balance by pulling on the straps at the top of the shoulder straps.
The hiking guide has a video that shows this in a great way! (The video is in Swedish).