Pack your rucksack like a pro

You’ve gotten to grips with the gear you’ll need for your next adventure, now comes the tricky bit – fitting it into your rucksack! Follow these simple rules and you can appear as smooth and organised as a mountain leader on all your escapades…
Use drybags
Not just handy for keeping your kit from getting soaked in a downpour, if used properly these help compartmentalise and colour code your gear. Before you pack divide all your items into uses e.g. bedtime (toothbrush and paste, change of top), food, warm accessories (hat, gloves, Buff) etc. Then assign them to a specific colour drybag. That way when you stop you can look for the colour to help locate the items quickly and easily.
Make the most of any available space
Carrying a stove with an in-built pot? Take a gas canister that will fit inside it. Got a mess tin or mug – squeeze your spare socks within it. Don’t let any ‘empty’ space go to waste and you’ll make the most of your bag’s capacity.
Place things properly
Luckily most of your awkward (i.e. sleeping bag) and heavy (i.e. stove) items will be the things you’ll need the least often. So put your sleeping bag at the bottom first. Then you’ll want to have the heavier items as close to your centre of gravity as possible – near the middle of your back – so here’s where you add in your stove, gas and any pots. Use your ‘bedtime bag’ to wedge them in and stop them from moving around. Above that you can add on your lighter items such as you extra fleece and ‘accessories’ bag – which you’re much more likely to need as you walk – genius.
Think outside the bag
Not all of your items have to fit on the inside. Your tent is usually the biggest and bulkiest item you’ll carry and if fitting it internally is difficult, try attaching it to the outside instead – using the bottom or side straps – and consider splitting the poles and fly sheets (not forgetting to pop it in a waterproof bag first) to even out your load.
Use the lid
This compartment is ideal for packing the kit you’ll need quickly throughout your trip. Think map, compass, GPS, camera, extra snacks, secret bag of Jelly Babies… as long as there’s a zip it’s secure but easily accessible so that if you stop and need to take a bearing you have all the tools you need to hand.
…And the front pouch
Many bags have some form of stretchy front compartment or series of bungee cords strung across like laces. Use this for your waterproof jacket, that way if a storm starts you can grab it quickly without going inside your bag. Not only that but it’s a great place for stowing wet gear too. So when the rain subsides stick it here where it won’t soak the gear you have inside that’s nice and dry – courtesy of your colour-coded drybags of course.
Phoebe Smith is an award-winning travel editor, writer and author of several books. She is as passionate about the outdoors as she is about travel and has written about both extensively in a range of magazines and newspapers in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia and has appeared on radio and TV talking wild camping, travel and women in the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter @PhoebeRSmith