Sunday, October 3, 2010
having a decent system of organization for your backpack is key. how exactly you have organized your pack will depend largely on what type of pack you have, whether it's one large compartment, several small ones or somewhere in between. it will also depend on how much stuff you need to carry with you, and if you have a storage space for things you aren't currently using.
firstly, you must have a method in place to keep the contents of your pack weather safe and dry. ordinary plastic grocery bags can do this effectively. having the contents of your pack sorted into bags before you put it into your pack can save the worry of your stuff getting soggy if ever stuck in sudden rain. if your pack came with a rain tarp, all the better. i used to use the 'foot print' [tent floor] tarp wrapped around my pack bottom side out to protect from the wet.
if my bag is fully loaded ie shelter, sleep gear, clothes, food and water, my pack is organized as follows. the bottom of my pack is filled out with the body of my tent and the sleeping bag, each in their own compression sacks. the tent poles fit perfectly up the backboard of my pack. on top of those is my clothes sack, and a separate sac or plastic bag for dirty clothes. i use mainly lightweight gear, so this fills two thirds of the main large compartment of my backpack. a small food bag fits on top of that, two drink bottles on the outside bottle pockets, and all my hygeine stuff and little things [chargers, batteries, day book, maps etc] are organized in the frontmost pocket of my pack. my sleep mat ties easily to the bottom of my pack by threading a shoe lace around the frame and the hike pole loops i once thought to be useless.
i'm currently using a medium weight 30L Vaude rucksack, which can be zipped down small for city day to day use, or filled out and stacked for a month long treck easily. sacrificing one or two articles of clothing and a snack will give me enough room for a small cannister of fuel and the pocket rocket camp stove. having several small sacs to organize your stuff makes it easier to grab what you need for a day, week or month depending on your storage situation, whether or not you have an indoor place to sleep for the night, or whatever the weather demands.
shoe laces can be super useful. when i run out of room in my pack and i don't want to carry my jacket or sweater, it can be rolled or folded and strappd onto the top of my pack using a lace. they can also be used to tie a tarp or large garbage bag around the pack for rain protection. they make a great clothesline fastened to trees or a fence, or even strung across the outside of your pack to dry things like wet socks or a towel while you're on the move.
it is important that your pack is comfortable, and fits your back and shoulders properly. never carry more than you can handle. useful features to look for in a pack are waist straps and load lifter straps, an adjustable backboard, and side straps that allow you to pull the weight of your pack as close to your body as possible. once you are comfortable with what you are carrying and have a pack system laid out that works best for you, your pack becomes an extension of yourself rather than a burden to carry.