How to Pack a Hiking Pack: Beginners Guide

How to Pack a Hiking Pack: Beginners Guide

If you've caught the hiking bug and are ready to hit the trails for your first big hike then this beginners guide was made just for you. We’re going to delve into the art of packing a hiking pack - from choosing the right backpack to layering it strategically. 


Choosing the perfect hiking pack

Before we jump right in, first, let’s talk about the heart of your outdoor escape, the trusty hiking backpack. Get this right, and you’re one step closer to nailing your first hiking trek. 

Always look for packs that suit your body type. Ladies, this is especially important for you. You’ll also want one that has ample storage space and is durable enough to withstand everything that Mother Nature can throw at you.

Our Pro Tip: If you can, choose a backpack with multiple compartments. This helps make organising your gear a breeze.


The essential gear

Now that you’ve got the perfect backpack, let's talk gear. These are the essential things that you should double check you have before clocking off work and clocking on to mountain time.

  • Water bottle or water bladder
  • First Aid kit
  • Navigation tools
  • Snacks

Have these packed, ready and easily accessible for a hassle-free hike.


Layering your hiking pack

Let's dive into how to layer your hiking pack like a pro.

Base Layer: The Foundation

Start by placing heavier and bulkier items at the bottom of your pack. This includes your sleeping back and other camp essentials. This base layer will set the foundation for a well-balanced and stable load.

Mid Layer: Medium weight items

Moving up, pack your mid-weight gear like clothes and camp stove.. For your clothes you’ll want to baselayers, puffers or midlayer, spare socks and underwear. 

Putting your mid-weight gear here will help balance the weight distribution in your hiking backpack, stopping it becoming lopsided.

Top Layer: Light and frequently used items

Finally, reserve the top layer for all your lighter items, along with things you may need to access more often on the trail. These are things like snacks, map, sunscreen and a light jacket like a puffer or rain jacket

Having these close at hand means you won’t have to unpack the whole pack everytime you stop. Makes sense right?

Our Pro Tip: Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space. 


Organising your hiking gear

Now that you understand the basics, let’s get into a few more specifics when it comes to organising different items in your backpack.


  • Base Layers: Keep your moisture-wicking baselayers in the middle of your pack. We always opt for Merino since it’s thermoregulating, odour-resistant and biodegradable, just to name a few.
  • Mid Layers: Roll and arrange mid-weight clothing like fleece jackets and hiking pants in the mid-layer of your pack
  • Outer Layers: On top, keep waterproof rain jackets and insulated puffer layers for easy access if the weather changes

Sleep System

  • Sleeping Bag: Squeeze your sleeping bag into a compression sack to make it as small as possible. Throw it into the bottom of your pack since you shouldn’t need it until you’re ready to set up camp for the night
  • Sleeping Pad: If you’re taking a sleeping pad with you, save space by attaching it to the outside of your pack

Cooking Gear

  • Stove and Cookware: Secure your camping stove and cookware in the mid-layer of your pack for stability
  • Food and Utensils: Store food items in a separate compartment if possible and pack utensils in an easily accessible pocket

The Essentials

  • Map and Compass: Always keep these in the top layer for quick navigation checks
  • First Aid Kit: Stash first aid in an easily reachable pocket for those unforeseen emergencies
  • Water and Hydration: Side pockets or dedicated hydration sleeves are the perfect choice for quick and easy access to water

Extra Tips

  • Pack light. Always prioritise the essentials and avoid unnecessary items to keep your pack light. This means ditching the deodorant, face wash and hair care products. Baby wipes are a great alternative if you want a little TLC on your trip without sacrificing weight in your pack
  • Mother Nature likes to throw a spanner in the works every so often which means you need to be prepared for all and any type of weather. No matter what the forecast says. 
  • Tailor your pack with hiking-specific gear and clothing. Consider factors like terrain and duration when picking what to pack.


Gear up for your next hike

Hopefully you now feel a little bit more confident in the art of packing a hiking pack. Always remember, practice makes perfect. That way you can learn and reassess along the way. What works for us may not work for you.

All that’s left to do is gear up, hit the trail, and soak in the views. Happy hiking!