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First Night Out: Packing and Planning

Tips on packing and planning for your first night under the stars.
Contest-02_FNOSmartStart_445x260.jpgSmart Start to Packing and Planning (Photo by Ben Sapp)

»Load your backpack First, print a packing list from backpacker .com/checklists and add any additional items you wish (medication, gaiters, pillow). Gather all of your gear next to your pack, checking items off as you go to ensure you don’t forget anything (but remember that you only need one first-aid kit, cookset, stove, water treatment method, and tent per group). Now load up: Loosen all compression straps and place lighter, bulky gear (A) in first. Slide tent poles (B) or extra socks into any gaps. Heavier items (C), like cooksets, food, and water bladders go in next so that they’re even with or below your shoulder blades. Top it off with an extra layer. Place items you’ll need easy access to, like the first-aid kit, map, headlamp, snacks, and lip balm, in your pack’s side pockets and top lid (D). Tighten all compression straps to streamline your load.

»Fit Right To put on your pack: Dial in the fit by first loosening all straps. Tighten the shoulder straps (A) until they feel comfortable, then pull the load lifters (B) (they connect the tops of your shoulders to the pack’s frame) until they rise at a 30- to 45-degree angle from your shoulders. Buckle and tighten the sternum strap (C) across your chest, then buckle the hipbelt (D) and pull until it’s snug but not constricting. Adjust as you hike.

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