Do not take it lightly when I say this: backpacking is an art, and not many have mastered it. A year ago, I was one of the many people who used to stuff items into my backpack, without putting any emphasis on the logistics. It wasn’t until my back started to hurt that I realised that something was not right. As I am a frequent hiker, backache is a baggage that I simply can’t afford to take with me on my travels. Not only does it restrict my movement, but it also stops me from doing my favorite activity—swimming. So, I started investigating the problem and traced the origins of the backache to my backpack. With the help of a physician, I discovered that my lower back was getting unduly stressed due to the heaviness of my backpack. He told me that I should start cutting down on the weight of the backpack and also learn how to evenly distribute its weight for reducing stress on my back, or risk permanent damage to my intervertebral disc.

From that day onwards, I started exploring different ways to optimise my backpack, and after considerable research I was able to solve the problem. Since finding the solution, I have been backache free for eight months and still going strong. I now truly believe that my neatly organised backpack is worthy of being displayed for all to see in the National Gallery. Here, through this blog post, I would like to share my incredibly knowledge of backpacking with you.

Art of Backpacking Explained

Before packing your backpack, you should know about the fundamentals of backpacking. Split your backpack into three virtual 'zones' that can be used for organising and separating the different things that you wish to take with you. These three zones are the Bottom Zone, the Core Zone, and the Top Zone.

The Bottom Zone can be used for storing bulky gear. The items that you do not require before setting up the camp should be stored in this zone. The core zone is perfect for keeping heavier items that the require support of strong material. For keeping items that you would need during your journey to the campsite, the top zone of the backpack is ideal.

Apart from the aforementioned zones, the backpack also has some peripheral storage. Accessory pockets are good for keeping the essentials that you’ll need often on your travel. In case you have extremely long items that cannot be kept inside the backpack, you can keep them on tool loops and lash-on points.

Approach You Should Take for Storing Items in a Backpack

With the right approach, you can make the task of storing items inside the backpack easy. Begin by filling up the corners of the bag, and focus on creating rows instead of columns. Make sure that the weight is distributed evenly on all sides as it will help in reducing the load on your back. Always make a habit of tightening the compression straps to streamline your load. This will prevent a shifting of load from side to side on your hike.

Items you Should Store in Different Parts of the Bag  

I have already explained the different compartments in a bag and how they should be used. Below is a list of items that should be stored in these compartments for maximum convenience:

  1. Bottom-of-Pack Items
  2. Sleeping bag
  3. Sleeping pad
  4. Camp shoes or down booties

 Core-of-Pack Items

  1. Stove
  2. Water reservoir
  3. Food stash
  4. Cook kit
  5. Bear canister

Top-of-Pack Items

  1. Rain jacket
  2. First-aid kit
  3. Insulated jacket
  4. Fleece jacket and pants
  5. Water filter or purifier
  6. Toilet supplies

Accessory Pockets


  1. Sunscreen
  2. Lip balm
  3. Headlamp
  4. Map
  5. Compass
  6. GPS

Tool Loops and Lash-On Points

Large sleeping pad

  1. Camp stool or chair
  2. Trekking poles
  3. Tent poles
  4. Ice axe
  5. Crampons
  6. Climbing rope

By storing the aforementioned items in the right compartments of your bag, you will ensure easy access to your supplies. It will also help you in maintaining equal distribution of weight in your backpack, and your back won’t get stressed so easily.