Image of the October 2014 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
October 2014 Issue
Home / Articles / Skills

Gear packing tips

Colour coded stuff sacks can help organise your load.

Nathan Watson reveals some tricks of the trade for ensuring your pack isn’t bulging at the seams by the time you head out on the trail.

Divide into compartments: Most packs are just a single barrel-like shape ready to be stuffed with gear. You should divide your pack into sections and pack the same gear in the same place every time, that way you’ll get a system going that you can repeat over and over.

Use colour coded stuff sacks: This way you’ll know what lives in each colour and won’t have any problem identifying what you need. Red for spare clothes, blue is food, green is the cooker, black is the first aid kit and so on.

Keep the outside clean: Hanging items off the outside of your pack is a sign of one of two things: you either have too much stuff or you haven’t packed well enough. Items can easily get damaged or lost when you attach to the outside so keep repacking until you get it all in. A bed roll, drink bottle/cup or tent should be your only ‘outside pack’ items.

Conduct a test run: Don’t try and pack your gear for the first time at a wet and windy car park. Practise in the comfort of your lounge where you can take time to get it right and rearrange items. It’s also way better to realise you’ve forgotten your head torch at this point, rather than three hours’ drive from home!

– Nathan Watson is the Mountain Safety Council’s outdoor land safety manager

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Web exclusives. Each week we publish stories you won’t find in the magazine. View our latest web exclusives.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.