Proper weight distribution in a backpack is essential for comfort on the trail. Improper load arrangement can place uneven strain on your muscles, resulting in fatigue, strain and potentially serious injury. Check your backpack before you hit the trail to make sure its weight is evenly distributed, and properly adjust all straps and load supports.
Food and Bulk
Food and bulky items like sleeping bags should be placed in the bottom of the pack close to the frame. Make sure these items are evenly distributed from the center of the frame so that the pack's center of gravity will be centered, as well. To make this process easier, place food in a spare stuff sack. This will also reduce its bulk and make packing easier on the trail.
Clothes and Other Gear
Clothes and gear like stove fuel add less weight than food, but they should still be packed with care. Center the heavier pieces close to the pack frame, and stuff or roll clothes and pack them evenly on both sides of the pack. Clothes can also be used to take up space between heavier objects or to keep them close to the pack frame.
Lash Points and Compression Straps
Many hikers lash items like tent poles, sleeping pads and shoes to the outside of their packs. This process is fine for reducing pack volume, but you must be careful not to skew the load. Be sure that all lashed gear is either centered on the back or equally balanced on either side. Tighten all compression straps after packing to prevent load shifting, and to bring the center of gravity closer to your body.
Article Written By Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."