How to Organize a Backpack

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Properly organizing your backpack makes your hiking trip much more enjoyable. The general rule of thumb is to pack lighter items at the bottom and heavier items at the top. You may need to adjust the weight distribution once you're on the trail, fine-tuning it for the specific type of terrain you're hiking.


  1. Step 1

    Put your sleeping bag at the bottom of the backpack. Some internal-frame backpacks have a separate compartment for sleeping bags. Use this compartment, since it helps keep your sleeping bag safe from compression.

  2. Step 2

    Pack clothes first. Clothes are the lightest things you'll carry, so they should be at the bottom of the backpack. To help keep clothes dry and separated, put them inside strong zip lock bags. Raingear and a light jacket should be closer to the top or in exterior pockets for easy access.

  3. Step 3

    Organize food and cooking gear on top of the clothes. Store as much as you can inside of the pots and cups to save room. Store the cooking fuel inside a bag in case of leakage, or in a separate pocket.

  4. Step 4

    Place tents inside the sleeping bag compartment or outside the backpack. Since most tents are lightweight, they should be near the bottom of the backpack. Keep the tent inside its waterproof bag.

  5. Step 5

    Take advantage of outside pockets for organization. Use them to store items you need often, so you can get to them quickly. This includes items such as maps, snack foods, sunscreen and rain gear.

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