Jeff Ryan, Author & Speaker

How to load a backpack

Katrine Connelly, the editor/adventurer behind the website My Open Country, kindly suggested referencing her site’s post on The ABCs of Packing a Backpack. I am thrilled to do so because the piece not only shows you how to load a backpack — the ideal “carrying zones” for heavy, medium and light items — but also provides advice on choosing pack size, which is also an often asked question.

One thing I’d like to add is a few tips on packing the gear that goes inside your pack.

  • Sleeping Bag – In addition to the stuff sack that comes with the sleeping bag, I always carry heavy-duty plastic bag in the bottom of my pack that’s large enough to protect my sleeping bag if it rains. If rain is in the forecast, I wrap the stuffed bag in the plastic one before I leave camp. Why not just do this every day? I prefer to let the bag breathe, if at all possible.
  • Clothes – I use a color-coded stuff sack system — a different color for each type of clothing (socks, underwear, rain gear, etc.). I buy them at Ragged Mountain Equipment because they’re made in New Hampshire, USA by really great people (as a bonus, their stuff sacks are inexpensive). If rain is in the forecast, I pack my bright red raingear stuff sack in the top of my pack. If it starts raining, I can get to it without rummaging around through an open pack while everything in it gets wet.
  • Food – I also use a large stuff sack to carry my food (almost all if it repackaged to minimize weight and maximize space).
  • Water – My water filter gets its own mini stuff sack – bright yellow, so I have less chance of leaving it next to a stream somewhere. I carry my filter and water bottles in the pack’s exterior pockets, so they’re always within easy reach.
See also  Travel Tales: The Art of the Unplanned

Thank you, Kat, for reaching out. I hope to see you out on the trail sometime!


Source: My Open Country

Jeffrey H Ryan is an author, adventurer, photographer and historian. He has written several books about his outdoor exploits, his fascination with hiking trails and the people and places found just off the beaten path. His debut book, Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America's trail was hailed by the former Executive Editor of National Geographic as "a classic of nature and travel writing" and set off a national tour (in a 1985 VW camper, no less). His books are known for weaving a deep appreciation for history into walks across contemporary landscapes that give readers the feeling they are hiking right alongside. When Jeff isn't trekking, chasing down a great story or spinning yarns from his keyboard, he enjoys sharing his adventures with audiences who love the outdoors. He spends much of his time in his beloved native state of Maine.

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