How To Pack A Rucksack: Packing A Rucksack The Right Way

We’ve all been there, you’ve made all the arrangements for your travel. You’ve renewed your passport, updated your entry visas, told your friends where you’ll be meeting them along your travels and had your shots. There’s only one thing left to do, and it’s the one thing that everyone dreads – packing a rucksack!

Everyone seems to dread packing their rucksack for their forthcoming holiday or expedition for a multitude of reasons. Some people feel like it should be the last thing on their list of things to do while others just don’t want the hassle of not having some of their clothes packed up a week before they’re off around the world. But the simple fact of the matter is it shouldn’t be one of the things you do the day before you go. It needs a methodical approach with a lot of forward planning.

Rucksack packing is sometimes a dark art and the process can vary greatly depending on whether you’re going away for a few days, weeks, or months.

One thing you should do every time though is DO IT RIGHT, FIRST TIME. There’s no point in packing all of your kit only to find that you’ve forgotten something just after you’ve secured everything and fastened it up tight.

Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Preferably use a rucksack that has a bottom zip for longer journeys as this gives you more scope as to what can be accessed without unpacking everything through a long expedition.
  • Pack the heaviest items in the middle of your rucksack and closest to your back. This will ensure less strain for your back when walking and will provide the most comfort and support.
  • Put your walking boots and sleeping bag at the bottom of your rucksack when using a bottom zippered rucksack.
  • Always put your valuables (and travel documents) in the main part of the pack and NOT in the side pockets.
  • Put clothes in an inner dry bag inside your rucksack for easy packing and removal.

The above are just a few simple pointers and should be adhered to for easy rucksack packing. Below is a simple diagram to visualise how you should be packing your rucksack. It’s a tried and tested method of packing a rucksack which really works.

How To Pack A Rucksack – A Three Step Approach

Packing a rucksack doesn’t need to be a trial and error event and so along with the rucksack packing tips above we’ve included a 3 step approach to packing a rucksack with (almost) ease.

Stage 1

Gather up absolutely everything that you need to put in (and on) your rucksack. Even if you think it won’t fit just get everything that you want to take with you and separate them into piles of different types of clothes (underwear, t-shirts, trousers etc). It’s best to get a large space ready for this as you’ll be surprised with the amount of clothes that people want to take with them on their travels.

You should have a lot of clothes, footwear, stoves, saucepans all over the room in massive piles by now ready to be packed. But wait, we all know this is never going to fit in your rucksack. Roll on Stage 2 of packing a rucksack effectively…

Stage 2

Now you need to concentrate on each pile of clothes separately and discard the items that you will definitely not use and are not the clothes you would really want to take anyway. This should be quite easy. Just take time to think about what you’ll actually be doing on your travels and be realistic in your options. So throw out your bathrobe, formal dinner suits and dresses and anything else which you know you should really be taking.

Stage 3

This is the final and hardest stage of all when rucksack packing. From each of the piles you have scattered around your room just choose ONE item from each pile to take with you and put it in a new pile (with the exception of underwear, you can take more than one set). Remember that the aim of packing your rucksack is not to back it to the brim. You’ll be picking up items along the way if it’s a particularly long journey and you’ll need somewhere to store them.

Although this is by no means the only way to pack a rucksack, we’ve found this way to be the most effective. Feel free to try out different techniques but just make note of the tips that are provided here. Remember if you find you have too much stuff in your rucksack at the start of your journey you’ll certainly need to be posting items back home that you pick up along the way and this can be very expensive (and unreliable).

One last tip, practice really does make perfect. The more times you pack your rucksack the same way then the easier it gets to remember where everything should go.