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How to Pack a Backpack for Camping: An Ultimate Guide 2023

A camping backpack is designed to accommodate all your essentials. But to do so efficiently is another story. Even though backpacks are featured with multiple-sized compartments for specific things, it can get overwhelming to put essentials in the right slots. The last thing you want is to be carrying a camping backpack that is heavier on the wrong side. To prevent you from making that mistake, we are here to guide you on how to pack a camping backpack while keeping in mind factors such as convenience, efficiency, and of course, comfort!

How to Pack a Backpack for Camping Efficiently?

The first step to packing a camping backpack is to acquire a durable backpack that is large enough to fit in all the essentials. No matter what brand you go for, make sure that the one you choose has multiple compartments in different sizes to fit in various items that you absolutely have to carry in your camping trip. Then, make a checklist of your items and lay them out on a flat surface so you have a clear idea of what to pack. Now it’s time to start packing your necessary gear.

1. Bottom of the Backpack Essentials

Ideally, the items that you will not need until you camp should go at the bottom of the backpack. These include sleeping bags, sleeping pads, boots/shoes, and warm clothes. Putting these large soft essentials at the bottom of the camping backpack will act as an internal shock-absorption arrangement for your lower back. You need to avoid putting the heaviest items at the bottom because they will just weigh you down.

2. Middle of the Backpack Essentials

Packing the middle of the backpack is tricky because you need to pack items as it’s best suitable for your body. Ideally, you must put the heaviest items in the inner part of the middle section that is close to your back while the lighter items should be packed on the outer part of the middle section. This way, the weight will be evenly distributed in a way that makes walking or hiking comfortable for you. Also, these are items that you wouldn’t require till you reach your destination so they may include a cooking kit, portable stove, tent body, extra clothing, rainfly, etc. The things that you will put in your backpack, will even depend on how large your tent body is, depending on that you will require a suitable size of a backpack.

3. Top of the Backpack Essentials

And finally, when learning to pack a camping backpack you come to the top. All the frequently used essentials should be put at the top of the backpack so that you can have easy access to them whenever required. Also, a great idea is to put these items in separate clear bags so you can easily grab them. The items may include your phone, camera, hygiene products, sunscreen, quick snacks, first aid kit, etc. Also, if you’re carrying an insulated jacket the best place would be to put it in this compartment as you may need it on the way to your destination.

4. Front Pouch

The majority of camping backpacks have a stretchable front pouch. While trying to pack a camping backpack, you should put any wet gear in this because the last thing you want to do is mix your wet jacket with your dry items inside the backpack.

5. Water Bottle Compartments

These compartments are quite easy to locate, usually on the base of either side of the backpack where you can store up to two medium or large-sized water bottles

6. Additional Accessory Pockets

All the items that do not fit on the top of the camping backpack should be put in different accessory pockets that are located on the exterior of the backpack. Since these pockets are tiny, you can only fit small items such as chargers, small electronic devices, instant snacks, lighter, etc.
After you’re done packing every item, lift the backpack on your back, buckle up every strap, and make sure that you feel well-balanced. This is extremely important because you need to be comfortable enough to be carrying the backpack for hours at a time if not days. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, move around a few items to reach the best possible comfort level. The idea is to not feel the extra weight on any specific part of your back and that’s possible only if you have evenly distributed the items.

Tips For Chronic Overpackers

  • When you first decide to pack your backpack, you should lay out all the items you want to carry in your camping backpack which may include clothes, food, sleeping bag, hygiene products, etc.
  • Now, separate the essentials from the rest of the items you “want” to take. The trick here is to make a different pile of items that you simply cannot do without on your camping
  • Finally, get rid of the majority of the items that did not get chosen for your essentials pile because most likely you wouldn’t even need half of the items you didn’t think were important to move to the essentials category.
  • To get an idea of how to pack a camping backpack visually, check out this simple and straightforward video with amazing tips and tricks.


1. What are the most important features you should look for when trying to pack a backpack for camping?

You must focus on the weight, volume, and comfort level of the camping backpack.

2. Are there specific compartments in the backpack for essentials of different weights?

Yes, ideally the compartment against your upper back when you’re carrying the backpack should have the heaviest items.

3. Should my camping backpack have compression snacks?

Yes, if you want to prevent excess air being accumulated in your backpack.

4. Are all backpacks for camping waterproof?

No. You must purchase a rain cover if you are camping in the rainy season. Check out these amazing waterproof tents to accompany you on your camping adventures.

5. Should I roll or fold my clothes in a backpack?

It depends on your personal preference and the items you’re packing. Rolling your clothes can help save space and prevent wrinkles, while folding can make it easier to find specific items and keep them organized. You can also try a combination of both techniques to maximize space and organization.

6. What order should I pack my backpack in?

Start by placing the heaviest and bulkiest items at the bottom of the backpack, close to your back. This will help distribute the weight evenly and make the backpack more comfortable to carry. Next, pack medium-weight items, followed by lighter and smaller items. Pack items that you might need to access quickly, like snacks or a rain jacket, in a separate compartment or near the top of the backpack for easy access. Finally, make sure to leave some space for any items you might acquire during your trip

Concluding: How to pack a backpack for camping

Now that you’ve gone through our detailed guide on how to pack a backpack for camping, you should be able to do yours in a jiffy. However, we still advise you to at least pack your backpack the night before the camping trip so you don’t have to worry about it right before you leave. As long as you stick to allocating specific essentials in the correct compartments of your backpack, you’ll be good to go.

Watch this video to see expert advice on how to pack a backpack for camping

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