Packing A Backpack

Loading Pack

“The most important step when packing your rucksack is to leave the superfluous at home! As a general rule, a fit person should not carry more than 20 - 25% of his/her body weight over a longer period of time. The German military calculates with 33% - but then, we all know that their trips are more than strenuous!”

The pack’s center of gravity should sit close to the body and ideally at shoulder height. This way it is positioned over the body’s center of gravity and the pack won’t pull backwards. How to properly load your bigger capacity rucksacks (from about 30 l):

  • Put the sleeping bag, down equipment and other light objects in the bottom compartment. Place midweight gear such as clothing on the top towards the outside. Heavy equipment – tent, food, big jackets – above shoulder height, close to the back.
  • Put small, often-used items in the lid pocket where they can be easily grabbed. To avoid swinging, big wind surface or wetness, minimise the number of items you strap to the outside of the pack and keep them as compact and small as possible.
  • In general keep an even weight distribution, in particular for side pockets, in mind. Use stuff sacks to get organised. Waterproof sacks are also a safe alternative to a raincover.

The pack strongly pulls backwards – this indicates that the pack’s center of gravity sits far from the body’s center of gravity. When you carry a heavy load like this trekking easily turns into torture.The body constantly works against the pack’s weight.The shoulders are heavily burdened. If your pack is not loaded properly it could become even risky in difficult terrain.

In Easy Terrain

In easy terrain (hiking routes, flat trails) the load’s center of gravity should sit higher.

In Difficult Terrain

In difficult passages (alpine routes, Via Ferrata) a bit lower and thus closer to the body’s center of gravity. This packing system leads to a more forward leaning position, yet it provides more balance compared to a higher center of gravity.

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