This a packing guideline for hiking and camping I have used for years, but I'm sure a lot of this will be useful for all campers and backpackers. The original list was compliled for my oldest group of girl scouts, so it's tested and true. If you have any other best practices of hints please post them here.
1. In the bottom section put all your bulky, but light items. Eg: sleeping bag, towel, second pair of shoes, fleece or sweater, etc. Of course make sure to have the last onc close to the zipper if you need to get it out.
2. Heavy items (water, canned food, camping stove) place at or above your waist level close to your center of gravity. The closer you get these things to your back the less the pack will pull you backwards.
3. Here you put the items you will need while traveling: extra clothes, toiletries, some food, guidebook, etc.
4. The top is reserved for your easy reach items – map, windbreaker, etc. As well as anything you don’t want squashed and flat.
5. Top and side pockets are the perfect place to pack all those little things you always seem to have: chapstick, extra socks, camera, flashlight, pen and paper, granola bars, hat, etc.
6. Strap your tent and sleeping pad to the sides of the pack. Best to wrap them up in waterproof bags in case of rain.
7. On the hip belt you can attach anything you may want to have with you without too much reaching: water bottle, compass, gum, etc.
Here are a few more good hints for packing:
- Even if you will be traveling in a dry region always pack your things in waterproof bags, especially your sleeping bag, sleeping pad and clothes. There is nothing worst than a wet sleeping bag. It makes packing and finding things easier. Packing cubes help to pack/organize things too.
- When beggining to pack first spread out all your stuff on the floor and give it a once over – this way you can spot what you’re missing and where to pack what.
- Think about how you are going to use things and pack them accordingly: put your pj’s with your sleeping bag, your toiletries close to the towel and your utensils, stove and food together.
- First pack the big bulky things and then fill in the gaps bewteen them with other smaller things – you will save space this way and you can ensure that any metal you may bring won’t crush other items.
- If you strap your tent to one side put your water and canned food on the other side to balance your backpack as much as you can.
- The fact that your tent is packed neatly into a big bag doesn't mean it has to stay like that. Pack the canvas on one side of your pack and the tarp and poles on the other to balance out the load. Put the tent pegs inside to ensure they don't get lost.
- Don’t pack wet items into your backpack. Tie them onto your pack and let them dry completely before packing.
- Pack the least used items at the bottom and the everyday use items withing easy reach.
- The divider in your pack can aid in keeping things organized. Removing the divider will aid in taking advantage of packing space available.
- A few spafe plastic bags are always good to have in case the old ones get lost or ripped.
- Protect you matches from getting wet - empty film containers and/or ziplock baggies are great for this.
- If the hip belt, shoulder straps and backpack are well fitted and adjusted most of the weight you're carrying should rest on your hips and carrying it should not be painful.