How to Pack a Rucksack

Whatever your next trip, whether city break, a long hike or a backpacking adventure, having the right rucksack is key. Though once you've bought your brand new bag, you’ll soon realise that packing it efficiently isn’t as easy as it looks. (And if you haven't already bought your rucksack, have a read of our rucksack buyer's guide to discover more about the different types available.)

There are a few tricks of the trade when it comes to packing and making the most of your precious space, and well-organised rucksack is going to help keep both your back and your sanity intact. That's why we decided to put together this handy guide on how to pack your rucksack, including all of our favourite tips and tricks in order to take the stress out of packing. So, follow our guide and you'll be on your way to an organised rucksack in no time.


How to Efficiently Pack a Rucksack for Your Next Adventure

Efficient packing is all about tightly packing your equipment and evenly distributing the weight so that your belongings don't move around and sway the weight to each direction as you walk. Here's how you can achieve optimum weight distribution and make the most of your rucksack space.

Pack Your Heaviest Items at the Bottom of Your Rucksack

Realistically, the heavier equipment is only going to be used towards the end of the day or when you're taking a break. Typically that'll be your tent, sleeping bag or cooking equipment, but pack anything heavy as well as gear you're sure you won't need quick access to towards the bottom of your rucksack. Be mindful of any sharp edges - you don't want them angled towards your back as you'll feel them dig through your rucksack as you walk.

Roll Your Clothes, Don't Fold Them.

Once you've packed all of the heavier equipment, it's time to pack the middle of your rucksack with your clothes. For the sake of packing, it's usually more efficient to roll up your clothing rather than fold it, as folding will take up unnecessary space. You can also take this a step further by placing your rolled up clothing into compression bags, to make sure they remain dry and as tightly packed as possible.

Store Liquids in Side Pockets

Most Rucksacks will come with side pockets either side of the bag. Storing two water bottles in each pocket will help distribute the weight whilst also providing easy-access, and it's a much better alternative to keeping your water inside your rucksack where it could potentially leak.

Pack Equipment You Need Easy Access to at the Top

Gear you need quick and easy access to should sit at the top of your rucksack, such as a waterproof jacket, a pair of gloves, snacks and any other food that's prone to getting squished. You may find it useful to keep your food stored inside a resealable bag to keep it all together. This means you won't have to stop and unpack the deeper areas of your rucksack in order to pull out your waterproof, and it'll stop you getting as wet in the process.

Pack Important Documents in a Plastic Wallet

As you'll need easy access to your documents, you'll want to store them near the top. With this in mind, if you're opening your bag throughout your adventure a little bit of rain water may find it's way in and soak anything paper based such as your map, event tickets or print-outs. A plastic wallet will offer reasonable enough protection if stored amongst your other belongings and prevent any water damage.

Fill In Any Loose Space

Tightly packed rucksacks are more efficient to carry. If there's room for your gear to move around, it will upset the weight distribution over time and potentially lead to some discomfort. If you've packed all your belongings and are still left with some loose space, instead of rolling all of your clothes, take a few out to fold up instead.


All Packed? Time To Test

Once you're all packed, it's time to try your rucksack on. Adjust the shoulder straps until you feel the weight nicely centred and have a quick walk around. Plenty of rucksacks also feature a hip or chest belt, which can be used to offer more support, so give it a go if you do have one and tighten it appropriately. Your rucksack will of course be heavy, but you shouldn't feel off balance if packed correctly.


We hope you found our guide on how to pack a rucksack useful. If you've packed your bag whilst reading our guide, your rucksack should have some of the hallmarks of an efficiently packed rucksack. If you're still deciding which size backpack to take with you on your adventure, discover more over on our guide to choosing the right size hiking backpack.

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