Thursday, July 9, 2009

Campmor's guide to loading your Internal Frame Pack

Today’s blog is based on Campmor’s Backpacking Cheat Sheet, which has tips on how to pack internal and external frame packs. Each style of pack reacts to loads, the terrain and the wearer differently. Packing each appropriately can be the difference between the wearer having a good time and a great time.

For now, I’m going to go over packing Internal Frame Packs. It is especially important to pack internals correctly, as an unbalanced load will be more readily apparent.

One of the benefits of internal frame backpacks is that they sit close to your body, for a mores stable carry. Packing your sleeping bag, or other soft light items, in the bottom of your pack is important because this area of the pack presses on the lumbar region of your back. Trust me; you do NOT want some heavy lumpy thing pressing into your lumbar area all day.

You want to keep the heaviest items in your pack close to your back, between the top of your hip belt and shoulders. This keeps your pack from pulling you backwards and putting strain on your shoulders. It also helps put more of the weight on your hips, where it is easier to carry. What is the heaviest thing you carry? It is probably your water. I carry the bulk of my water in a hydration bladder, flat against my back. For easy drinking access, you can use a hydration system or keep a water bottle or two in your side pocket(s) for easy access.

In the very top part of the main compartment, you want to keep things you might need quick easy access to, throughout the day. I keep my rain gear and pack cover stashed there, so they’re handy to grab. You never know when a storm will pop up. If rain seems imminent, I put my rain gear in the hood and put my pack cover on my pack. In cooler weather, I also keep and an additional layer handy to throw on at rest stops.
In the top hood of your pack, you want to pack some of your other lighter items, th
at you may need throughout the day. For me, that includes my First Aid Kit, Bug Dope, a Head Lamp, and a Bandanna.

When packing an internal frame pack, try not to tie too much to the outside of your pack, because the additional weight will tend to pull you backwards. The only thing I keep on the outside of my pack is my sleeping pad (on short trips I can fit this inside).

Remember to pack your load firmly. If you don’t, you’ll waste a lot of energy, compensating for a consistently shifting load. If your pack has compression straps use them.