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May 2016 Issue
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Smart packing

Heavier, bulky items to the bottom; lighter quick access items to the top. Photo: Wilderness

It’s one thing to know what to pack for a backcountry trip, but knowing how to pack all your carefully selected items is another skill entirely. Before you start piling in your gear with reckless abandon, read on to learn the fine art of backpack-packing.

Mountain and ski guide Tim Steward from Aspiring Guides says that while there isn’t necessarily a correct sequence to packing, there are some important guidelines.

“Thorough preparation and equipment selection is the first step to packing right,” Steward says. “Your aim is to minimise weight which will translate to movement efficiency – faster, further and safer.”

Here are his top tips for packing.

  • Keep your center of gravity low. This means placing heavier items as low as possible.
  • Sandwich hard items with soft malleable items to minimise gaps.
  • No empty space! Uniform density is ideal, and will add to the comfort and balance of your pack.
  • Keep your gear organised with stuff sacks for easy access.
  • Avoid hanging excess gear off the outside of your pack. Anything that is strapped outside (tools and tents) should be well-secured so as not to affect your balance.
  • Pack small items inside bulky, awkward items such as helmets and cookware.
  • Assess how much water you should carry. Know when you are passing streams or consider an all-in-one stove that can melt snow for drinking in just a few minutes.