Here is all the information you need to pack for your Frosh Trip. When selecting gear for the trip, remember that you’ll be in the outdoors for five days, so you’ll want to bring only those things you need to be comfortable. Leave behind what isn’t necessary—extra stuff just adds weight. This equipment list is based on 40 years of experience running Outdoor Action Trips. If you bring ALL the gear on the list and ONLY the gear on the list, you’ll be comfortable in virtually any situation you’ll encounter on Frosh Trip.
Here's an OA packing video to cover all of the equipment:
Fabrics: For hiking you want clothing that is warm, breathable, and quick-drying. Synthetic fabrics are best because they won’t absorb water, dry quickly, and are relatively windproof. Many people already have synthetic clothing at home, so you may not need to go out and purchase clothing just for this trip. Items like running gear, athletic warm-ups, and skiing/snowboarding gear can easily be used on this trip—so check out your closet or borrow from a friend before going to the store. Lightweight synthetic/cotton (50/50 blend) shirts, underwear, and pants are fine. You should avoid bringing all-cotton clothing since it absorbs water easily and won’t keep you warm if it gets wet. Cotton also retains water so that it takes a very long time to dry. Do not bring all-cotton clothes such as sweatshirts, sweatpants, or jeans.
Dressing for the Weather: Weather is unpredictable, so you’ll need to bring a range of clothing for various temperatures, as well as rain. During the day, northeast temperatures at the end of summer can range from the 60s F at the low end to the 90s F. Temperatures can be considerably cooler at night, though, dropping into the 30s F and 40s F.
Layering: Dressing in layers is the most efficient way to stay comfortable in the outdoors. By bringing several different layers, you can add or remove clothing to match your activity level and the weather conditions.
- The Base/Wicking Layer keeps the skin comfortable and dry, which is essential for controlling your temperature. Polypropylene or other synthetic fabrics are ideal since they wick moisture away from your skin. Such lightweight synthetics or synthetic/cotton blends provide good ventilation for the skin to keep you dry and cool. During the day you’ll probably be hiking in a T-shirt and shorts.
- The Middle Layer is made up of a long sleeve shirt and long pants, which provide insulation and some protection from the elements. You may wear these while hiking for cooler temperatures or to protect you from sun, or at camp at night and in the early morning.
- The Outer Layer—usually a fleece jacket or wool sweater—provides insulation. Synthetic fleece fabrics (such as Polartec) don’t absorb water, so they keep you warm even if they get wet. You’ll wear this layer around camp at night and in the early morning when it is cooler.
- The Shell Layer protects you from wind and rain. A waterproof rain jacket is vital in case of bad weather. A coated nylon rain jacket is lightweight, inexpensive, and works well. Waterproof-breathable fabrics like Gore-tex also work well but can be expensive. Raingear is not only essential for Frosh Trip, but also will get plenty of use on campus. All rain gear must be tested in the shower prior to arriving on campus.
- For the final layer, your Head, bring a wide-brimmed hat for sun and rain protection. At night, you’ll need a wool or synthetic fleece hat to keep you warm—it can get colder than you think at night.
Boot or Athletic Shoe Selection:
We recommend hiking boots for Basecamp-Hiking trips. Athletic shoes are fine for Basecamp-Outdoor Adventure (but you're welcome to bring hiking boots if you already have them).
Hiking boots that extend over the ankle provide increased support on trails and are helpful when hiking on more rugged terrain, especially if you have a history of ankle injuries. Leather/nylon boots are fine for Frosh Trip and are lightweight enough to wear around campus.
Waterproof boots are ideal: some boots ae made with a waterproof liner (such sa Gore-tex) or you can treat the exterior with a waterproofing compound before the trip. Waterpoof boots are also useful for wearing around campus during rainy or snowy weather.
Boot fitting: boots should fit comfortably with two pairs of socks: (1) a light synthetic liner sock and (2) a mid-weight wool sock. Having two sock layers means your socks slide against each other, so that the friction from your boots is absorbed by the sock layers rather than your skin. Friction against the skinn is what causes blisters. While wearing two layers of sock, you should have a little extra room at the toe of the boot so that your big toe doesn't jam against the front of the boot when walking downhill. Test out your boots well before you arrive by starting to walk in them 2-3 weeks before the trip; otherwise your feet will pay the price! Boots taht aren't broken in invariably cause blisters! Wear the same combination of liner sock/wool sock you plan to wear on the trip. This will help the boots conform to your feet and get your feet used to the boots. If you find areas of chafing, you can experiment with different types of socks, or you can apply tape or moleskin to the chafing areas.
Think Before You Buy!: Although hiking requires specialized gear, you may be surprised how many items you already own or can borrow from a friend or relative. For example, you likely already own the synthetic or 50/50 synthetic/cotton blend clothing that is best for outdoor activities. Borrowing gear not only saves you money, but also contributes to Outdoor Action’s effort to be environmentally friendly in all our activities. After all, hundreds of incoming freshmen buying hundreds of petroleum-based products for one-time use on Frosh Trip leaves a pretty serious impact on the environment! Borrow (or improvise!) first, then buy used gear if you can so that polluting/non-renewable resources are not being consumed to manufacture your new gear. Items that are most appropriate to buy new are those that require precise fitting (like boots) and those that you will use a lot around campus after Frosh Trip (like a rain jacket).
Information about Princeton equipment discounts can be found here.
Basecamp (Hiking & Outdoor Adventure): Personal Equipment List
Please check off each item as you assemble your equipment to make sure that you have everything.
OA is able to lend these items if requested before August 12. Check your requests HERE. Requested items will be distributed on Sunday, September 2 at OA Check-in in Dillon Gym.
_______ 1 duffle bag or backpacking backpack. You’ll only be going a short distance from the bus to your sleep site,, but you’ll need something to carry your belongings and group gear and food. A large duffle bag or backpack (capacity 65-75 liters).
_______ 1 sleeping bag with stuff sack: Any summer weight synthetic fill bag will do (fills like Polarguard Delta, CloudLoft, PrimaLoft, Thermic CF). If the bag has a temperature rating, a 35 to 45° F bag should be fine. The bag should have a nylon shell both inside and outside. Down bags are acceptable, but extra care must be taken to keep them dry. Do not bring bags with cotton shell, fill, or lining—if they get wet, you’ll never get them dry.
You MUST bring the following items. Outdoor Action cannot supply them to you.
_______ 1 pair of running/athletic shoes or lightweight hiking boots: Your boots should extend over the ankle for ankle support; have lug soles for traction; and be either leather/nylon or all-leather. Leather/nylon boots that extend over the ankle are fine for Frosh Trip and are lightweight enough to wear around campus. All-leather boots are more durable, but they’re generally heavier. If you plan to do more hiking, it may be worthwhile to invest in all-leather mid-weight boots. In addition, waterproof boots are best: the boots may already have a Gore-tex (waterproof/breathable) liner, or you can treat the leather with a waterproofing compound before the trip. Boots should fit comfortably with two pairs of socks: (1) a light synthetic liner sock and (2) a mid-weight wool sock. Having two sock layers means your socks slide against each other, so that the friction from your boots is absorbed by the sock layers rather than your skin. Friction against the skin is what causes blisters. While wearing two layers of sock, you should have a little extra room at the toe of the boot so that your big toe doesn’t jam against the front of the boot when walking downhill. Make sure your boots are well broken in before you arrive; otherwise your feet will pay the price! Start walking in them weeks beforehand. We cannot emphasize this enough: boots that aren’t broken in invariably cause blisters!
_______ 1 pair camp shoes: These should be comfortable shoes to wear around camp at the end of the day. you may also wear them during water activities (e.g. canoeing), so it's hepful if they dry quickly. We recommend old athletic shoes, Crocs, or sandals with a heel strap (e.g. Tevas or Chacos) that will stay on your feet. Not flip-flops!
_______ 2-3 pairs of light synthetic/polypropylene liner socks: Wearing liner socks underneath wool socks helps to prevent chafing since the friction is between the two pairs of socks, not between the boots and your feet. Do not bring cotton socks.
_______ 2-3 pairs of medium weight wool hiking socks: Wool socks keep your feet warm even when wet and give good cushioning. The higher the wool content of the socks the better (we recommend 85% wool, 15% nylon). Do not bring cotton socks.
_______ 1-2 pair of athletic socks: For wearing around camp with athletic shoes.
_______ 1 brimmed cap (wide-brimmed, baseball, etc) for sun and rain protection (optional)
_______ 1 wool or synthetic fleece hat for warmth at night
_______ T-shirts: 2 synthetic OR 2-3 synthetic/cotton (must be at least 50% synthetic).
_______ 1 long-sleeve shirt: synthetic, athletic warm-up, 50/50 synthetic/cotton blend
_______ 1 synthetic fleece jacket or wool sweater: The mountains get chilly at night! (no cotton in this layer)
_______ 1 rain jacket or poncho: waterproof nylon or waterproof/breathable fabric like Gore-tex. Test in shower to make sure it’s still waterproof—the waterproof coating on nylon rain jackets degrades over time! Don’t bring heavy rubberized rain jackets; they weigh a ton and you’ll end up getting very hot and sweaty. Be careful with windbreakers and track jackets, most are not waterproof, especially if they do not have a hood. Water resistant is not the same as waterproof.
_______ Underwear as needed (recommended 1/day for females). Synthetic preferable.
_______ 1-2 pairs non-cotton, loose-fitting, athletic shorts
_______ 1 pair non-cotton long pants, loose-fitting: nylon, synthetic, fleece, or 50/50 synthetic/cotton blend. Athletic warm-ups are great. No blue jeans or sweatpants—they take too long to dry!
_______ 1 pair lightweight polypropylene long underwear bottoms (optional but highly recommended if you get cold easily)
______ 1 pair waterproof rain pants (optional)-- see notes on rain jackets
_______ 1 bathing suit
_______ Any medications you will need to take during the trip (inhaler, allergy medications, etc.)
_______ Glasses, contact lenses, and contact solution as needed. Some people find it hard to keep their hands clean enough to be comfortable handling their contacts, and therefore prefer glasses, so we encourage bringing a spare pair of glasses as back-up.
_______ 1 toilet kit: Only toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, comb/brush, sunscreen, and lip balm. Do not bring “smellables” like shampoo, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, etc. Things that “smell good” to us are an attraction for insects and animals. OA will provide biodegradable soap.
_______ Menstrual hygiene products as needed
_______ 1 day pack (i.e. school book bag) to use throughout the week
_______ 2 one-liter reusable water bottles, such as Nalgene. You must have these water bottles! We recommend plastic bottles (a non-BPA plastic or polyethylene).
_______ 1 small flashlight or LED headlamp with fresh, alkaline batteries (alkaline batteries last longer). Headlamps are preferred, as they leave your hands free. It gets very dark, don’t forget this.
_______ 2 heavy plastic garbage bags: one for sleeping bag, one for inside your backpack, and one as a rain cover.
_______ 5-6 gallon size Ziploc bags or 2-3 plastic grocery bags for packing
_______ 1 plastic cup with handle
_______ 1 plastic bowl (Tupperware works great)
_______ 1 unbreakable spoon
_______ 2 bandannas or handkerchiefs. They are useful for many things in the outdoors.
_______ OA provides foam sleeping pads for all particiapnts, but you may bring your own if you prefer. 3/8 in. foam or inflatable camping pad (like a Thermarest—not a full-size inflatable mattress).
_______ 1 small notebook and pencil
_______ 1 individual bottle of hand sanitizer (2 oz.)
_______ Travel size packets of hand wipes/towelettes (like Wet Ones)
_______ 1 individual bottle of hand sanitizer (2 oz.)
_______ Insect repellent. Please do not bring products with more than 35% DEET or in aerosol
DO NOT BRING (you’ll survive without these things, we promise!):
- Electronics: cell phones, iPods, etc.
- Excess "Smellables": no shaving cream, make-up, hairspray, etc.
Sources for Equipment
You may have a local backpacking shop in your town, or you can go to a chain store or shop online. Some sources:
EMS -- www.ems.com Suggested items for OA: https://outdooraction.princeton.edu/article/discount-equipment
L.L. Bean -- www.llbean.com
Sierra Trading Post -- www.sierratradingpost.com
Campmor -- www.campmor.com
Excerpted from The Backpacker’s Field Manual by Rick Curtis '79
Your boots are among the most important pieces of equipment that you bring into the backcountry. With every step, they are the direct interface between you and the land. Boots come in an almost infinite array of heights, weights, materials, soles, etc. They should be selected according to your needs—day trip versus multiday, packweight, terrain, season and temperature, your hiking style (traditional versus ultralight), and personal characteristics (e.g., weak ankles), to name a few. And there isn’t one boot that is best for every condition. The boots that are best for a day hike are not the best boots for a multiday winter camping expedition. Boots are an investment. Selecting, fitting, breaking in, and caring for your boots will help them last a long time and will maximize your own comfort.
WHAT KIND OF BOOTS
There’s no one boot that does it all, although there are boots that will handle a pretty wide range of uses and conditions. It’s generally estimated that every pound (0.45 kg) of weight in your boots is the equivalent in energy expenditure of adding 5 pounds (2.25 kg) to your back. Lifting your feet up for thousands of steps each day takes a lot of energy. When you are looking for boots, go with the lightest weight boot that meets your needs. I think about what I need in a boot in relation to what I am doing on the trail. If I am doing an extended mountaineering trip and I’ve got a 60-pound (27 kg) pack, I want a stiff boot that extends well over the ankle to provide me with the kind of support I need. This boot is going to somewhat heavy. If I’m going on a multiday trip and carrying 40 pounds (18 kg), I’ll be fine with a lightweight boot that extends just over the ankle. You’ll notice that I defined all of this in terms of my personal needs. I’ve got notoriously weak ankles, so I always opt for a lot of ankle support. Someone else might not need this much support (boot weight) while others might need more. As with clothing systems, you need to decide what your body needs and look for the lightest thing that meets those needs. Some people bring a second pair of “camp shoes” for use in camp. After a long day it feels good to get out of your boots and air out your feet, especially if they are wet from sweat or rain. Changing to camp shoes can also help reduce your impact at camp.
Proper fitting of boots is essential, and whole treatises have been written on the subject. One thing to know about boots is that all boots are constructed on what’s called a last, a representative “average” foot mold (length, width at toes, width at heel, etc.) that the boot is built around for each shoe size. Some boot makers use a unisex last for each size while others have a separate last for women’s boots and men’s boots (and there are lasts for children’s boots). I’ve found that some manufacturers’ lasts just don’t work with my feet while others seem to be just right. Finding that winning combination of a boot that has the features you want and the correct last is your goal. You should try new boots on in the afternoon, since your feet swell during the day. Select a sock combination of a liner sock and outer sock that you plan to wear on the trip, and try the boots on. Bring your own socks. A lot of times I’ve forgotten to bring my own socks to the store and end up using socks from some random pile the store has. Then when I get home it turns out that with my own socks the boots don’t fit right. With the boot unlaced, slide your foot all the way to the toe end of the boot. You should be able to get your index finger to fit between the back of your heel and the back of the boot. Lace up the boots with moderate tension. The laces should hold the boot in an “intermediate position”—that is, that you still have room to crank them tighter, pulling the boot together more, or loosening them up, so you can tighten or loosen the boots as needed. You should be able to wiggle your toes inside the boot. With your foot flat on the ground, hold the boot heel down and try to lift your heel inside the boot. There should be only 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch (6 to 12 millimeters) of heel lift. Too much heel lift will lead to friction and possible heel blisters. You also want to check the boot length. With the boot firmly laced, do some good hard kicks against a post or the floor. Do your toes smash into the front of the boot? If so you’ve discovered “boot bang.” This is a serious problem. On long downhill stretches your toes smashing into the front of the boot can result in lost toenails and other foot problems. Whatever boot bang you experience in the store will be magnified when you are going downhill with a heavy pack. If you are getting boot bang, try lacing differently, another size, different sock combination, or another boot. As we get older our feet tend to get longer—no, we aren’t still growing, but most people’s arches begin to flatten out and without that curve the feet get longer. So if you haven’t been hiking for a while you might be in trouble if you pull that five-year-old pair of boots out of the closet and expect them to fit like they used to. If it’s been a while, wear them around before your trip and make sure it’s not time to buy a new pair.
BREAKING IN BOOTS
Before you leave the store with your new boots, make sure that you can bring them back if they don’t fit. Most stores are good about this if you only wear them indoors and bring them back in good condition and in a reasonable period of time. Start wearing your boots around the house to be sure you have the right fit. Once you are happy with the fit, you need to break the boots in to your feet. Always break in a pair of new boots well before your trip. Most medium to heavyweight boots will require some use to soften up and conform to your particular feet. Even old boots should get a little break-in if you haven’t worn them for a while. Begin with short walks and gradually increase the time you wear them. Easy day hikes are a good way to break in boots. Each time you lace your boots, take the time to align the tongue and lace them properly; otherwise, the tongue will set into a bad position, which can lead to hot spots and blisters.
Excerpted from The Backpacker's Field Manual by Rick Curtis '79
There are two basic types of packs: external and internal frame. The purpose of the frame is to transfer most of the weight of your gear onto your hips, so the strong muscles in your legs carry the load, rather than your shoulders. If you remember trying to carry loads of books home from school in a day pack, you know what I mean. The ideal distribution is about 70 to 80 percent of the weight on your hips and 20 to 30 percent on your shoulders. This split in weight also lowers your center of gravity, making you more stable. Recent advances in pack design offer an incredible range of sizes and options.
§ External Frame:
The external-frame pack helped revolutionize backpacking. Suddenly, much larger amounts of weight could be easily and safely carried, allowing for longer trips. External-frame packs typically use a ladderlike frame of aluminum or plastic. The hip belt and shoulder straps are attached to the frame (see diagram below). A separate pack bag attaches to the frame, usually with clevis pins and split rings. Pack bag volumes range from 3,000 to 4,500 cubic inches (49 to 73 liters). There is also space for attaching large items like a sleeping bag to the outside of the frame so the actual carrying capacity of the pack is more than the pack bag volume. Some external-frame packs come in specific sizes based on the length of your spine; others are adjustable to fit a range of sizes. Look for good lumbar padding, a conical hip belt, recurved shoulder straps with good padding, and a chest compression strap.
- Pro: Good for carrying weight. The external frame allows for some air space between your back and the pack bag so your back doesn’t sweat as much. The weight is carried higher in the pack, allowing for a more upright posture. Frame extension bars and space for a sleeping bag outside of the pack allow you to strap on lots of gear when you need to, making the carrying capacity of the pack more versatile. Less expensive than many internal frame packs.
- Con: Since external-frame packs carry the load higher, they raise your center of gravity, making you more “top heavy” and less stable. Most external-frame packs don’t hug your body as well, so the pack tends to wobble from side to side as you walk. This is usually not a problem on a regular backpacking trip, but can throw you off balance if skiing or snowshoeing. Airline baggage-handling machines are notorious for bending frames. Don’t take it on an airplane unless you have boxed it up.
§ Internal Frame:
Internal-frame packs use a wide variety of materials— aluminum stays, carbon fiber, plastic sheets, and foam—to create a rigid spine to which the hip belt and shoulder straps are attached. The pack bag runs the full height of the pack, although it may be divided into several compartments. Pack volumes range from 3,000 to 7,500 cubic inches (49 to 122 liters). Some internal-frame packs come in specific sizes based on the length of your spine; others are adjustable to fit a range of sizes. As with an external-frame pack, you should look for good lumbar padding, a conical hip belt, recurved shoulder straps with good padding, and a chest compression strap. A removable top pocket and a bivy extension (a fabric layer sewn around the top opening of the pack bag that, when pulled up, adds to the overall pack volume) on the pack bag will let you lift the top pocket and store more gear. Also, make sure that the pack has side compression straps to squeeze the pack down if you are carrying a smaller load.
- Pro: Good for carrying lots of weight. Conforms to the body for better balance. Generally more comfortable to wear for long periods.
- Con: Since the pack bag and frame are directly against your entire back, back perspiration can be a problem. Since the weight is carried lower in the pack, you may have to bend over more. You can’t put as much on the outside, so the overall carrying capacity of the pack is somewhat fixed by its internal volume. Tends to be more expensive than external frame packs.
Size is an important factor when selecting a pack. You need to make sure that you can adequately carry all the equipment and food you will need for the length of your trip. Keep in mind that the pack bags of external-frame packs are smaller than those of internal-frame packs. This is because there are spaces on the external-frame pack to strap large items directly to the frame. For example, a sleeping bag in a stuff sack may be anywhere from 700 to 1,500 cubic inches (11 to 25 liters). Here are some rough guidelines on pack size related to trip length:
Length of Trip
External Frame Pack Bag Volume
Internal Frame Pack Bag Volume
1,500+ cubic inches (25+ liters)
3,500+ cubic inches (57+ liters)
5-7 Days (Frosh Trip)
2,000+ cubic inches (33+ liters)
4,500+ cubic inches (73+ liters)
3,000+ cubic inches (39+ liters)
5,500+ cubic inches (90+ liters)
FITTING A PACK
It is essential to have a pack that fits properly. The major measurements are your spine length, waist size, and shoulder width to get a pack the correct length and one with the correct size hip belt and shoulder straps. Packs vary from company to company, so check the manufacturer’s instructions for both fitting and loading. Many packs come with different size hip belts and/or shoulder straps and some are specifically designed for women’s bodies. The idea behind a frame pack is to have the frame transfer most of the weight to your legs through the hip belt. Therefore, when fitting a pack, the place to start is with the hip belt. Here are some general fitting guidelines:
1. Put on the pack and adjust the hip belt to fit your hips. Wear the hip belt on the hip bones just underneath the rib cage. The center of the hip belt is about at the crest of your pelvis. The buckle will be about at your navel. Wearing the hip belt higher transfers weight onto major muscle groups. Wearing the belt too low on the hips can compress arteries and nerves and lead to poor circulation and numbness in the legs.
2. With the hip belt on and properly positioned, tighten the shoulder straps and note their position. Some packs will allow you to adjust the height at which the shoulder straps attach to fine-tune your fit. For an external- frame pack the straps should come off the frame about even with the top of your shoulders. If the straps drop too far down, the pack is too small, and too much weight will be pulled onto your shoulders. If the straps go too far up, the pack is too large, and too little weight will go onto your shoulders. For an internal-frame pack the frame stays or frame structure should extend 2 to 4 inches above your shoulders. The shoulder straps should follow the contour of your shoulders and join the pack approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) below the top of your shoulders. The position of the shoulder harness can usually be adjusted. The lower ends of the straps should run about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) below your armpits. On both types of packs be sure the width of the shoulder straps is positioned so that they neither pinch your neck nor slip off your shoulders. On the shoulder straps you may find load lifters that connect to the pack at about ear level and connect to the shoulder straps in front of your collarbone. These help pull the top of the pack onto your shoulders. Some internal-frame packs allow you to bend the frame stays to adjust them to match the curvature of your back.
3. In both types of packs the sternum strap should cross your chest below your collarbone. If the pack is properly fitted, you can adjust the load lifters and other fine-tuning straps to make the pack hug your back. Adjustments can also be made while hiking, periodically shifting the weight distribution to other muscle groups, which makes hiking less tiring.
PACKING YOUR PACK
Loading an External-Frame Pack
The major consideration in loading a pack is how best to distribute the weight. There are two basic principles: for trail hiking over generally flat ground, the weight of the pack should be high and relatively close to the body. The heavier items should sit between your shoulder blades. For consistently steep or rough terrain, carry the weight lower to give you better balance and avoid falls from having a higher center of gravity. In this case, heavier things should be placed more toward the middle of your back. To achieve either arrangement, load the heavier, bulky items into the large top compartment in the position where you want most of the weight. Then fill this and the remaining compartments with lighter items. Tents and tarps can be lashed to the extender bars at the top of the pack and sleeping bags can usually be lashed to the frame at the bottom of the pack. In either case, the horizontal weight distribution should be balanced so that the left side of the pack is in balance with the right. A woman’s center of gravity is generally lower than a man’s. So, for women, the heavier items should be placed close to the body but lower in the pack, as in the case for rough terrain, described above. Packs designed especially for women take this into account by lowering the pack bag on the frame. Load these packs as described above and then lash sleeping bags and tents or tarps to the extender bars at the top of the packs.
Loading an Internal-Frame Pack
Your gear will help form the structure of support for an internal-frame pack. For easy, level hiking, a high center of gravity is best. To achieve this, load bulky, light gear (e.g., your sleeping bag) low in the pack and stack heavier gear on top of it. For steeper terrain, a lower center of gravity is best because it lessens the chance of falls from a top-heavy pack. In this case, place heavier items a little lower in the pack and closer to your back than normal. Women may prefer this arrangement under all circumstances.
GENERAL PACKING SUGGESTIONS
• Stuff your clothes into the pack or pack items in stuff sacks rather than fold them. This serves to fill all the available space of the pack better so that things don’t shift around and allows you to get more into the pack.
• The more common weight distribution (general trail hiking) has the lighter, bulkier items on the bottom: the sleeping bag and clothes. The heavier items such as food, stoves, and fuel go into the upper section or on top of the pack, with the heaviest items closest to the pack frame. A general rule is that 50 percent of the weight should be in the upper third of the pack.
• For consistently steep or rough terrain, carry the weight lower to give you better balance.
• The horizontal weight distribution should be balanced so that the left side of the pack is in balance with the right.
• Your hip belt should have enough room to allow you to loosen or tighten it for different layers of clothing beneath. If the belt is too loose, socks or shirts can be inserted between the belt and your body. This adds an extra layer of padding to the belt as well, which may increase the comfort of the fit.
• Avoid hanging things all over the outside of your pack—no one wants to listen to you clank and clang your way down the trail; also, all that junk can snag branches. If you find yourself having to tie things on all the time, either your pack is too small or you are carrying too much (or both).
• Think about the things you will need during the day and have them relatively accessible so that it doesn’t take a complete emptying of your pack to find lunch, the first-aid kit, or your rain gear. Also, group and store items according to function. For example, keep toiletries together. Small stuff sacks help organize your gear.
• For protection from rain, line your sleeping bag stuff sack and main pack compartments with plastic garbage bags. These can be reused on subsequent trips and recycled when you are through with them. They also work as emergency shelters. Pack rain covers are also useful.
• Fuel bottles should be placed below any food items or in pockets on the outside of your pack.