How to Pack Your Rucksack
In the excitement of a day on the hill, it can be all too tempting to just stuff your gear in your rucksack and get going, but did you know there's a right way to pack? Glenmore Lodge's head of training Nigel Williams takes us through some of his tips on how to fill your rucksack correctly.
"How many times do you pack your bag before a big trip? Probably more than once. There is a truism that the bigger the bag the more you fill it, so try to use a bag of the appropriate size – a big expedition bag for a day walk is often not comfortable as it flops about and usually looks as awkward as it can feel!
"The key principle is to pack with the heavier dense items higher up in the rucksack (but not on the top) or as near to your back as possible. If heavy items are on top and away from your back the sac tends to move around more.
"Use a rucksack liner and keep things dry. Having lots of individual dry bags with different items in is fine though sometimes rounder bags don't pack well. It can be more efficient to have things like a sleeping bag just stuffed at the bottom of the rucsac completely filling the corners. Likewise, remember you don't have to store a tent in its bag - you can separate it and stuff it into different parts of your pack to make more efficient use of the space. When it is wet though, being able to stuff it into a dry bag is good.
"This is balanced by how available you want things to be. If you're on a camping trip and arrive at a camp spot in the rain, do you want to empty your rucksack all over the grass to get to the tent at the bottom? Consider the unpacking sequence and your needs on arrival: tent up, water collected, brew on etc. So things like your sleeping bag and spare clothing should be at the bottom.
"Food can often be the heaviest item these days as most other equipment has become lighter. Keep snacks close to hand, but heavier objects such as tin cans should be packed in the center of the rucksack close to your back for good balance.
"What goes right on the top then? Waterproofs and a warm jacket should be within easy reach - as should food and water/thermos. In the lid of your pack should be miscellaneous items such as your GPS, phone, Swiss army knife, head torch, gloves and hat, lipsalve, glasses, sun cream, insect repellent, GoPro/camera – the list of things we want handy in the top of the rucksack can go on!
"Your first aid kit ought to be just under the waterproofs - not buried at the bottom. You might even split out compeed to the lid of your sack.
"A map and compass should be in a pocket continuously available to hand. Keep the compass away from mobile phones in particular they can cause compass needles to change polarity due to the strong magnet in the speaker.
"I try to avoid having kit on the outside besides poles. I like some now that will fit inside a 30 litre rucsac like the Leki Micro Vario Carbon.
"Water is always one of the heavier items. In the mountains I often just carry a foldable mug and scoop water as I go. Waist pockets on a rucksack are handy for that (and of course a bag of jelly babies to keep you going!)."