how to pack an expedition rucksack

How to pack an expedition rucksack effectively

Author: Rosie Fuller

If you’re planning a multi-day hike carrying all your kit, you’ll need an expedition rucksack that is big enough to pack it all into, tough enough to endure the inevitable abuse that comes with outdoor use, and comfortable enough to walk with all day. Here are five top tips to think about when packing your expedition rucksack.

1. Centre of gravity

Make sure the centre of gravity is as close to the lower back as possible. If you pack the bulk of the weight too high, then the pack will be unstable. If you pack it too low it will pull unduly on your shoulders. And if the weight is too far back then again the pack will be unstable, uncomfortable and pull you backwards.

2. Smart packing

There are few things more frustrating than having to empty your pack in the middle of a rainstorm to try and find your waterproof jacket. Make sure you pack things that you may need quick access to in places where you can reach them in an instant. This goes for snacks and gadgets like head torches and cameras as well.

3. Use the compression straps

These are so often over-looked, but if you tighten the pack’s compression straps once it’s loaded it will hold everything in place and improve stability while you’re on the move.

4. Contamination

If you’re packing liquid fuel for the stove there’s always a risk that it could leak and contaminate the rest of your rucksack, so pack it somewhere that a spill will do as little damage as possible, like a wand pocket. Also carry a stuff sack (or even a plastic bag) to separate smelly or wet clothes from clean ones.

5. Rain covers

While an expedition rucksack can be water resistant up to a point, in bad conditions your kit is going to get soaked. To keep your gear dry, it’s best to use a rain cover for the outside of the pack (many rucksacks will come with these as standard) and dry bags on the inside, to make completely sure your kit stays dry. We find raincovers have other uses too, like groundsheets in camp.

This piece first appeared as part of our rucksack group test in Adventure Travel magazine issue 119.

Intro photo: Austin Baker