Whether you are carrying an internal or external frame pack, you should load it with balance and the convenient location of gear in mind. A few basic packing principles apply to both styles of packs.
- Protect your sleeping bag. Internal frame packs have a special sleeping bag compartment in the bottom. External frame packs have a special area below the pack bag where you can lash on your sleeping bag. In either case, make sure your sleeping bag is well protected from the elements. It is always a good idea to carry a large plastic garbage bag in the bottom of your pack. If it rains, you can line your sleeping bag stuff sack with it for extra protection.
- Balance your load. Carry clothing, cooking essentials and food in the main compartment. The heaviest gear should be stowed toward your back and centered in the pack to provide proper balance. It helps to use a soft garment as a buffer between your back and hard-edged items such as cook kits and fuel bottles. Midweight gear should be carried toward the top and outside portion of the pack. Organizing your gear in color-coded stuff sacks makes packing easier and helps you locate supplies quickly on the trail.
- Keep essentials handy. Carry sunglasses, guidebook, map, compass, water bottles, camera and other essentials in outer pockets. Nothing is more frustrating than having to sort through all the compartments in your pack to find something you need. The easiest way to avoid frustration is to consistently pack the same items in the same pockets. Once you have a packing routine, you’ll find it