Sharing is caring!

If you know how to pack your essentials for camping, one backpack is enough to accommodate them all. Is there a technique in packing your gear? This article will help you out on how you can lay out all your gear.

You can try out different ways of loading your essentials until you have found the best technique for you. To make sure you have packed everything, make a backpacking checklist, and note on your list what will work well and what didn’t work well after each trip.

This article will give you tips on how to pack your essentials properly and the proper way to hoist your things when it’s full. A smartly-loaded backpack will feel balanced if it rests on your hips and won’t sway or shift as you hike.

Packing is divided into three zones, including external storage:

  • Top zone: Area for the bulk essentials you need on the trail
  • Core zone: Best for packing denser, heavier things
  • Bottom zone: Space for bulky gear and items required only in the camp
  • Accessory pockets: perfect for essentials that you need often or urgently
  • Tool loops and leash points: Ideal for huge things.

Imagine you are stacking cordwood. You are laying down rows, not by columns: Make sure that the nooks and crannies are filled, so you will have a reliable, stable load. It is also essential that the weight is equal on every side. Keep the compression straps tightened to organize your cargo and stop it from shifting or swaying as you hike.


Some of the bulky essentials that you can place at the top are as follows:

  • Fleece jacket and pants
  • First-aid kit
  • Toilet supplies (TP bag, trowel, TP)
  • Insulated jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Water filter or purifier

Some backpackers prefer to place their tent at the top of the backpack for easy access in case a storm arrives before you can set up camp.


Heavy, dense items you won’t need to access while going to the camping area are as follows:

  • Cooking kit
  • Water reservoir
  • Food stash (not snacks)
  • Stove
  • Bear canister (may contain food as well as other scented items and other bulky things that will help fill it to the brim)

Packing these things in the core zone can help create a stable center and will direct the load downward instead of backward. Positioned too low will make the bag sag. If you placed it too high, the pack would feel tippy.

If you need to bring liquid fuel, the fuel-bottle cap must be tight. Position it upright and place it away from your food in case of spillage.

You can wrap soft items around bulky gear to avoid shifting. These items will fill in gaps and produce a buffer between your water reservoir and bulky items. Some of these essentials are as follows:

  • Tent footprint
  • Extra clothing
  • Rainfly
  • Tent body

Note: Slipping the entire reservoir into a full backpack is not easy. It is best to fill the tank and place it in your backpack first.


Bulky items you only need to access at the camping site are as follows:

  • Sleeping bag, particularly if it can be rolled into a small shape
  • Camp shoes or down booties
  • Sleeping bag – most backpacks have a bottom compartment for this item
  • Any layers, such as long underwear that you intend to sleep in

Placing this kind of soft, squishy gear at the bottom serves as an internal shock-absorption system for your pack and your back.


Backpacks are usually surrounded by different types of pockets – front pockets, hip belt pockets, lid pockets, and side pockets. There are some pockets with smaller pockets inside. You can organize your accessories and small essentials in these pockets:

  • Bug spray
  • Car keys (look for a clip inside one of the pockets)
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Headlamp
  • ID and cash stash
  • Lip balm
  • Map
  • Raincover
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottles


Some of the most common gear to strap on the outside of your pack includes:

  • Ice ax
  • Camp stool or chair
  • Crampons
  • Climbing rope
  • Large sleeping bag
  • Trekking poles
  • Tent poles

You can find backpacks with special tool fasteners, loops or other storage solutions for most of this gear. You can use compression straps, daisy chains, and lash patches to carry gear that you can’t bring in another area.

But since this gear might snag on tree branches or get scratched on rocks, you need to minimize the number of items you carry outside of your pack.


Lifting a pack by a shoulder strap is the common mistake committed by beginners. This error can cause damage and wear out your backpack’s shoulder harness. Also, you might have difficulty in controlling your pack.

To hoist your pack without any problem, even if it is heavily loaded, follow the steps below:

  • Slightly loosen all of your straps to make it easy to slip on.
  • Tilt it to an upright position on the ground.
  • Position yourself to the back panel, part your legs and knees bent.
  • Get hold of the haul loop.
  • Lift and move the pack smoothly up to your thigh and allow it to rest. Don’t lose your hand on the haul loop for better control.
  • Slip your other shoulder and arm into one shoulder strap until the padding supports your shoulder
  • Bend forward and swing the bag on your back. Then slip the hand that holds the haul loop into the other shoulder strap.
  • Fasten up and make some adjustments to fit.

Before the day of hiking, you can practice the proper way of hoisting a pack at home. If you were able to master the hoisting and removal of your backpack at every stop you make, you could rest and stretch out your fatigued muscles and end your hike and still have some energy left.