We will share on how to pack your backpack for an outdoor hike/trek/climb. We would like to highlight that we are not referring to a month-long backpacking trip where you have to carry almost everything on your own. Here, our packing tips refer to a two days or multi days trek up a mountain or base camp where you carry minimal load, and some trips can be as long as 20 days but are supported by porters, mules, yaks. Nevertheless, the packing concept of a backpack for either type of trips is quite the same.
We provide a pack-list for all our trips to ensure you have everything you need. This will also lessen the chance of missing out on any important items.
We also partner some of the retail shops where they provide discounts to our trekking participants. Therefore, plan your packing early so you do not need to rush to buy what you need.
Organising your “Barang-Barang”
Give yourself time to plan – to buy new items, or to loan from friends. Once you have gathered all your items, lay them out on a floor. Use our pack list as a guide to confirm you have everything you need. Please exercise due diligence in your packing. The more you bring, the heavier your pack will be.
For most of our trips, you will likely need to have two bags – A transporter bag and a daypack.
- A transporter bag serves as your main pack where most of your items are kept in it. You use this bag to check-in to planes, and also for porters or mules to ferry from point to point during a trek. This transporter bag is commonly a duffle bag, with strong handles on the sides, usually between 80L and 150L. Some trekkers prefer to use a bigger volume backpack (60L -80L). You can also use a luggage case for some destinations, but most of the trekking destinations are not suitable.
- A daypack refers to the pack that you will carry to trek. This is usually a backpack with a size ranging between 30L and 50L. The size of your daypack will be determined by the length of your trip, how much you need to carry on a daily basis, and your body frame. Usually, this day pack will also be your summit pack if your trip is a peak climbing trek.
How to pack your duffle bag?
You cannot take everything you want on a trip, but you can usually bring everything you need. Figure out what you will actually need and plan what you will wear in advance so you do not overpack. With a little forethought and technique, it can be done.
- Put your heaviest and bulkiest items at the bottom of the duffle, toward the centre.
- Trekking poles / ice axe are sharp objects and may poke through your duffle. If you do not have the accessories to cover the sharp points, you can improvise by using duck tape to tape up the sharp points, or use toilet roll cardboard as protectors. Place them at the bottom of the duffle, toward the sides.
- Organise your clothes into separate compartment within your duffle. Roll your clothes and pack them in packing cubes.
- Use compression sacks for bulky items like sleeping bag and down jacket; or store it loosely in a drawstring bag so it can be compressed as you stuff items around it.
- Pack your toiletries in separate ziploc bags so it will not stain your stuff if they leak.
- You can stuff small items inside your empty water bottle.
- Use casing for fragile items like ski goggles.
- Pack your trekking shoes or mountaineering boots in a waterproof bag; pack each side of the shoes separately so you have the option to stuff them into different parts of the duffle.
- Tighten all the compression straps on your duffle to minimize load shifting.
- Never never never sit on your duffle bag as you may break your own stuff or force objects to poke through your duffle.
How to pack your backpack?
There is a method in packing your items into your backpack properly to improve your carrying experience. Learn to organise your gear before loading your backpack. Be sure that you have the proper pack size to fit the gear you plan to bring. Keep in mind that shorter trips will require you to pack lesser gear, eliminate unnecessary weight and certain luxury items.
Backpack weight distribution
A well-loaded backpack will feel balanced when resting on your hips and nothing should be shifting or swaying inside. As you walk, the pack should feel stable and predictable on your upper body.
By distributing weight in a specific manner, you can achieve better comfort, convenience and stability. Instead of simply stuffing your backpack with gear, follow these guidelines:
- Lightest gear like sleeping bag, light weight clothes should be pack in the bottom.
- Medium weight gear should be loaded on the lower part of your back.
- Load the heaviest gear next to your back, centered in the pack.
- Load your frequently used items in the top compartment so they can be found with minimum searching
What to pack in your daypack?
First, you need to ascertain the types of support you will get on your trek, and then you can estimate what is required for you to carry in your day pack and what can be left in your duffle bag. Whichever support, we aim to carry light.
We know that being in the outdoors there will be unforeseen elements that might happen, and we try to be as prepared as we can. Below is a recommended list of items to be carried when on the move, regardless of the kind of support you have.
Inside a Day Pack:
- Drinking water
- Energy food – e.g. chocolate, nuts, energy gel, sweets
- Toilet paper / wet tissues
- Sun-screen / lip balm
- Hand sanitizer (especially if you trek to remote areas)
- Personal first aid kit – plasters, antiseptic wraps, etc
- Personal medication – pain-killers, for diarrhea, anti-histamine etc
- Headlamp with battery
- Outer shell (or replace with a disposable poncho for tropical trek below 1500m)
- Warm clothing – if trekking in cold climate environment
- A fleece shirt or down jacket
- Gloves liner or fleece gloves
- Personal travel documents
- Cash / credit card
- Backpack cover
- Waterproof all your items, be it in the day pack or in a duffle bag.
- Keep your frequently used items within reach (e.g. sunscreen, sunglasses, headlamp, energy food, first aid & medication)
- Tighten all compression straps to minimize load shifting
- Minimise the amount of gear you attach to your pack’s exterior. If you absolutely have to, make sure it is snugly strapped to your pack. Loose hanging gear can jeopardise stability and risk losing it.
- Make an effort to find out the functions of the accessories that are found on your backpack. You will be surprised how little items on your pack can help facilitate your outdoor experience.