How to Pack your Rucksack

Packing your rucksack is, perhaps, the most important pre-departure ritual. Improper packing means improper load distribution and this can lead to extreme discomfort as you have to carry the rucksack on your back for long distances in the rarefied atmosphere during the trek. Our trek leader, Himanshu, has some expert suggestions to help you pack your rucksack like a pro!

  • Checklist Check: We highly recommend making a checklist before departing for any journey so that there are less chances of items that could be left behind. You can maintain a packing software on your smartphone for the purpose. 

Download The Packing Checklist for Trekkers here.

 Parts of a Rucksack


Labelled Diagram of Rucksack showing functionality (Image Courtesy:

Below we enlist a few methods to pack your rucksack in the most efficient ways:

A B C D E F method

(A)ccessibility :  For greater accessibility, frequently used items are kept in

a) Top/Front/Side zipped pockets

Items include snacks, dry fruits, first aid kit, ponchos, map, compass, sunglasses, sunscreen, headlamp etc.

b) Side mesh pockets

Items like bottles, rolls of tissue etc.

Packing side mesh pockets of a rucksack 

Side pockets in a Rucksack (Source: BackpackingLight)

(B)alance:  Maintaining the balance i.e. correct load distribution in a rucksack is essential. The goal, here, is to create a comfortable center of gravity. To do so, follow these tips:

  • Heaviest gear at the back, placed near the middle.
  • Lighter gear like clothing towards the front.
  • Frequently used items like first aid kit, map, compass,GPS, sunscreens etc on top. 
  • Less used items like Sleeping bags and other non-essential items on bottom.
  • Matching every item on the left side with an equal weight on the right.

To check if your rucksack is ideally balanced or not:

  • Nothing should be shifting or swaying inside.
  • As you walk, the pack should not move sideways and ideally should move only along with the upper body.

How to Pack your Rucksack

How to Pack your Backpack

(C)ompressiblity: The  compression part is met as described :

  1. Ranger Roll Method: This method is very useful to achieve compression. Every clothing in your rucksack can be ranger rolled by this method whether it is a down jacket, windcheater, trousers, light weight towels or undergarments.

Trekkers' Clothing                 Give small fold at 1/5th position from top

a)Trekker’s Clothing                                     b)Give small fold at 1/5th position from top        

Sidefolds at both sides                   Roll from the bottom          

c)Sidefolds at both sides                                                        d) Starting Rolling from bottom side

e) Ranger-Roll Method


(D)ry: Always use plastic compartments (if possible with different colours for different items) to differentiate between your gear. Rucksacks nowadays come with inbuilt rain covers to help keeping your rucksack dry. Prolonged exposure to water can not only make your rucksack heavier but may even damage your expensive rucksack.

(E)nvironment : Planning of gear in advance is very important whether you are going for a hike in Himalayas or in the desert. So make a list of essential items according to the environment which you would be exposed to.

(F)ood & (F)uel : Never keep Food and Fuel together on an alpine trek. Keep your liquid fuel bottle below the food items in your backpack because in case of a spill it will damage all your food items.


Tips while Packing your Rucksack :

  • Always keep your headlamp/flashlight in a readily accessible place.
  • In case you are hiking solo, always keep your food stash items, stove and cook kit above the sleeping bag which is kept at the lower most position in your rucksack. 
  • Wrap you rain jackets, windcheaters, tent body around the heavier items so that heavier items do not move sideways. 
  • Always tighten all your compression straps properly and always wear the hip belt and chest strap for proper load transfer.
  • Trekking Poles must be kept with their tips pointing skyward.
  • Crampons should always be kept in the case or hung outside the rucksack in a protective case.
  • Always use your thighs for carrying your backpack or lowering it to prevent any injuries.
  • On uneven ground, the rucksack may be kept as a pillow to assure that your head is positioned at a slightly high elevation as compared to your legs for proper blood flow.

So, now that you have mastered the art of packing your rucksack, when are you setting off to explore the mountains?

Article by: Himanshu Garg

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