How to Pack Things in a Backpack (Easily and Efficiently)

How to Pack Things in a Backpack (Easily and Efficiently)

Packing light is a process, not a goal. We can always get better. Travel experts all take different approaches - some downsize their luggage, thereby forcing themselves to carry less; some focus on clothing, others on toiletries. Some others use technology to replace physical objects. We often hear ourselves asking - ‘Have I taken too much?’, ‘Should I bring that thing that I might need, even though I never use it at home?’, ‘Should I take my straighteners?’, ‘Are 12 pairs of shorts a little excessive?’, ‘My bag won’t shut!’

Sound familiar? Choosing a backpack is an overwhelming task in itself and once you’ve decided on it, the next job will be packing it well. Proper weight distribution in your backpack is of utmost importance to save yourself from some serious back pain. Another tip - just because your backpack can accommodate a lot of things does not mean you have to stuff it!

Packing a backpack is usually pretty simple, but there are some tips to make the process easier and to get you better results. A well loaded pack should be balanced and rest well on your back and hips with nothing shifting or swaying inside. Compartmentalizing your gear will be a huge help when packing and re-packing your backpack. Let’s help you get all your important stuff in your backpack!

First things first, what kind of backpack do you have? Is it one that has a top loading opening or that has a zippered front panel that folds open?​

Here's how to pack things in a backpack easily and efficiently:

Lay it out

Set everything out before packing it in, this lets you have a look at everything (commit it to memory) and eliminate anything not absolutely necessary for your backpacking trip.

'Handle with care' items

Pack electronics, books, liquids and anything of value in reusable plastic bags/waterproof covers. You can use ziplock bags. Also, put a large garbage bag into one of the outside pockets on your backpack so you can at least try to cover it during a storm. Fragile items should be packed with the most protection possible.

Not full is good

It could be almost disastrous to have a backpack that’s full capacity. Keep some room empty.

No waste spaces

Utilize every nook and corner inside your backpack and one of the most common things that almost all backpackers do is stuff inside the shoe.

Bottom first!

Start packing from the bottom and start with heavier stuff first. Pack larger items, then stuff the empty spaces around them with smaller bags and misc objects so that no room is wasted. Bulky shoes are also good for the bottom of your bag. Also keep in mind the access of things you need most/rarely. For example, your sleep sheet or bedding can go at the bottom of your backpack because you will only need it once a day. Heavier items can also go in the middle- like your camp stove or tent. Surround these items with as much cushioning as possible to prevent breakage in transit. Medium weight objects to go on the top - jacket, umbrella or a quick change of clothes. In the zippered top lid, you can put frequently used items and keep them within easy reach - map, compass, GPS, sunscreen, sunglasses, headlamp, bug spray, first-aid kit, snacks, rain gear, pack cover, toilet paper and sanitation trowel. Some packs even offer small pockets on the hip belt. Tent and trekking poles can go in the elasticized side pockets.


Pack your backpack in such a way that you’re comfortable wearing it for at least 2 hours in a row.

Packing your backpack is something that most people leave to the last minute. Packing your backpack is an art and there is no one way to do it. We all do it differently and we all pick up tricks that help us do it efficiently. If you try to stuff everything in as fast as possible in the vain attempt that it may actually pack itself, you're going to be sorely disappointed. So, take out some time, use a packing list and make sure you go away with everything you need, keeping all the irrelevant stuff at home.

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