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How to pack your 50-70 litre rucksack for longer outdoor trips

10:30 2nd August 2013 By Jacob Thrall
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As you’ll have seen if you’ve read our guide to packing a Daypack, we don’t know what you’re up to so we can’t tell you what to take! Whatever you’re carrying though, many of the same general principles hold true.

Osprey_Aether1. Planning

  • This gets more important as the size of the load increases. You don’t want to carry excess weight, and you don’t want to forget anything. Get your stuff together and make sure you’ve got everything you need…
  • … and nothing you don’t. Don’t be tempted to take too much “just in case” stuff, or fill your bag to the brim just because the space is there.

 2. Lining

  • Rucksack fabrics are pretty water resistant but rarely waterproof, and the seams aren’t taped. A bin bag inside may do the job, but pack liners will last you longer and have sealable tops.
  • Using a series of small liners rather than one big one keeps your gear organised.
    They are:
    - Great for travelling: laundry in one, clean clothes in another, etc.
    - Your stuff stays dry if you have to unpack and find something in the rain.

3. Weight Distribution

This is very important! The bigger the load, the more problematic an offset weight can be.

  • Heavy items go close to the spine to keep you balanced. Tents tend to be long heavy cylinders, which fortunately lend themselves very well to centralising.
  • A general rule of thumb is to get the weight close to your back, moderately high up. A supportive back system will then transfer it to your hips. Everyone is a different shape though: you’ll discover what’s comfortable for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to rearrange things a bit while you’re out:
    • If the load feels like it’s sagging, adjusting compression straps helps but it might be that you need to position the heavier items a bit higher up.
    • Some appreciate the “push forward” of a shoulder-height weight – especially on even ground where balance isn’t a problem – but for some people it’s very uncomfortable. If you feel like you’re being toppled, get the weight a bit lower down.
  • If you must attach things to the outside of your bag, don’t let them flail around and upset the balance.

4. Prioritise

As with any size bag, ensure the things you’ll need urgently are easy to get at. A bigger bag means more stuff, so more to get buried. Big bags frequently have a zip at the base to combat this, but do give it some thought.

  • Sleeping bags and changes of clothing are bulky, not too weighty and unlikely to be urgent, so they can sit at the bottom: they’re out of the way and they push the heavier items higher up into the middle-of-the-bag sweet spot.
  • Small things are particularly prone to getting buried in bigger rucksacks, so don’t just lob them in. Keep your torch, hat & gloves, emergency/medical gear, etc. in the pack’s pockets.
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