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Weight Distribution in Successful Backpacking

Updated on October 13, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Eileen loves to travel as much as possible both at home in the U.K. and abroad with local places of interest high on her to visit list.

Get It Right

The length and position of any straps is important
The length and position of any straps is important

Personal Experience

We all live and learn - Fact.

Many years ago my husband and I packed our rucksacks for our first camping trip. It was to be a backpacking trip that included carrying our small three-person ridge tent, cooking utensils, clothes, and other essentials.

There was no car or easy options. We were traveling by foot, bus and train but could I carry my rucksack?

As he helped me lift my rucksack onto my back, and let go of it, I literally fell over backward onto the floor.

I could not get up for quite a while partly because of the weight, but mainly because we were laughing so much.

It took us time to rearrange our backpacks and eventually we set off on our camping vacation.

Make sure your camping adventure gets off to a great start by packing appropriately.

Adjust Your Backpack

Before you begin loading your backpack or rucksack adjust any straps and strapping.

Make sure that the pack will sit well on your back at a comfortable height.

Use Your Common Sense

So first things first, remember to be sensible and never pack more than you can possibly carry.

A weight that initially may feel fine, probably will not after you have been carrying it for some time.

If you have a rucksack with plenty of those little outer pockets try to spread the load into these also. If you even the load that you are carrying out it will make it seem a little lighter.

The weight will be more evenly distributed through your bones and joints as you move, and therefore be kinder on your hips, spine, knees, and feet in particular.

Test The Theory Out

Put a few heavy things in the middle of your backpack and see what it feels like when you are carrying it.

Now split these items up and distribute them evenly around the backpack.

I bet when you put it on again it will feel lighter and more comfortable for your body.

Good packing should really aid your level of comfort.

What Is Essential And What Is Not

If you are on a limited budget you may want to pack as much as possible rather than buy at your final destination. However, there are bound to be some inexpensive retailers within easy distance of your campsite.

If you want to take toiletries and sun creams with you decant them into smaller bottles and containers. Items such as shampoos need to be in the small travel sizes, not great big bottles which have a fair weight even when empty. I doubt you would even need huge bottles of shampoo and shower gel. Consider what you can use instead.

A good old-fashioned bar of soap may have various uses.

Always look at purchasing the lighter options of any goods that you may be packing. Items such as kettles can be bought in small lightweight travel versions.

Overall you need to be sensible and get savvy.

After all, it will be you who suffers the most if you make your self poorly or just cannot carry your backpack. Make sure that you have what you need but no unnecessary trimmings.

Try a trial run by packing and then attempting to carry your backpack around for a little while.

If you find that you are already struggling to carry the rucksack decide what you can leave behind.

Pack your bag well and you should have a great, pain free trip.

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Dolores.

      We so often overpack cases no matter how hard we cut back etc. But they have wheels attached to help move them about. Backpacking is a whole dfferent ball game

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Ethel - for any trip I have a tenancy to over pack. Your idea of packing ahead and trying the backpack on, and wearing it for awhile makes so much sense. Not being a back packer, I can see how the pack would seem to get heavier and heavier as you hike.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      That is some excellent advice with regard to weight distribution in backpacks. The only times I have used one is for hikes on day trips...never overnight.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Shyron. Yes never take your back for hranted

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Ethel, your tips will save backpackers a lot of time and regrets. I never know what to pack when traveling, I will keep your trips handy for the next one planned for March.

      Blessings my friend.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Liz. Yes som eof it is just common sense but sadly too often people just chuck stuff in a backpack and suffer for it.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Ellison. I doubt we would or could do this now but it was fun back the

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 years ago from UK

      This brings back memories of the rucksack I invested in many years ago for an overland trip to Germany. I wish I had read your tips then. This article also rings true for day packs. A friend of ours suffered with a bad pack after cycling to work with heavy work shoes misplaced in his backpack. Sightseeing with a day pack loaded up with bottled water, snacks camera etc. is much more comfortable if the weight is evenly distributed.

    • Ellison Hartley profile image

      Ellison Hartley 

      2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      These are really good suggestions. Before I got hurt I loved hiking on the Appalachian Trail, which we can catch in a few different places within an hour drive or so. I have only ever done day hikes and carried lunch, snack, and extra layers so I would definitely have some learning to do if I was planning on legitimately going on a real backpacking trip!

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