When you have a roomy suitcase, it can be possible to simply toss everything that comes to mind in and then sit on your luggage to close it. With a backpack, however, anything less than careful planning and crafty strategising is not going to work. The good news is that you will get better and faster at packing a backpack with practice but for the first time, here’s a list to help you with the task.
Buy the smallest backpack that you can live with
It is a truth universally acknowledged that whatever backpack you have, you are going to pack it to the brim. So choose a backpack that’s 10 percent to 20 percent smaller than what you think you need. Under no circumstances should you pick one that is bigger than necessary, “just in case”. A fully packed backpack should not be more than 30 percent of your weight. You want to be able to walk freely with it without dying from the very first step.
Lay out everything you want to bring
Before commencing on the actual packing, lay out all the stuff you intend to bring with you. Ask yourself with each item if you really need it. When packing a backpack, there is literally no room for “what if” items. Everything you bring should ideally be multifunctional and can be used over and over again.
Pack powder detergent and plan on doing laundry
It’s much lighter and a lot more practical to bring with you some powder detergent in a ziplock bag than to attempt to have a daily change of socks and underwear for all your days travelling. Even if a laundromat is not in the vicinity, it is usually possible to find someone who would be willing to run your dirty clothes in the washing machine for a small fee.
Pick lightweight and quick-dry fabrics for clothing
Synthetic fabrics that dry fast, rather than cotton, are your best choice for underwear and casual tops. For insulating layers in cold weather, opt for lightweight materials like merino wool, fleece and thermal layers that can be worn under everything.
Pack versatile, low-maintenance items that go with everything else
In order to pack light, you want to stick to clothing choices that fold up small and roll out without being a crumpled mess. Plus, each item should be versatile enough to coordinate with everything else, so you get maximum outfit options out of a minimum wardrobe.
Plan on buying toiletries at your destination
Liquids, gels and aerosols take up the most weight and are often the bulkiest. Plus, they are the most troublesome to pack as you have to make sure that nothing is going to break or spill. Eliminate this problem by bringing only what you need, like a favourite moisturiser you can’t do without. Items like shampoos, shower gels and toothpaste can easily be purchased in drugstores or supermarkets almost anywhere in the world.
Pack the heaviest items in the middle or near the top
Weight distribution is an important consideration for comfort. The optimum way to do this is pack the heaviest items near the top or in the middle of the backpack, while the lightest items can go at the bottom.
Have items you use the most often readily accessible
Things that you use all the time or that you need at a moment’s notice should be readily accessible. If it starts pouring, for instance, you don’t want to be desperately digging deep into your pack for your rain jacket.
Don’t leave packing till the last minute
Packing a backpack well is practically an artform or at the very least, a skill that is honed with practice. If you are a newbie backpacker, chances are high that it will take several attempts, so do leave some time for error.