Do you want to know how to pack mountaineering backpacks smartly? Often, many new hikers tend to carry unnecessary items when packing their backpacks. Hence, we decided to shed some light on the essentials that you need to bring.

Having a backpack that is packed efficiently will undoubtedly swallow a brilliant array of camping gear. Knowing what goes where will save you a lot of time and stress when you are outdoors. Furthermore, placing them in the right spaces will also balance the backpack better and alleviate some stress of the weight off of you.

How to Pack Mountaineering Backpack

Before you even begin packing your backpack, the first thing you must check is your backpack. It is imperative to check the condition that the backpack is in. You wouldn’t want the backpack to give up on you halfway through your hike, after all.

If this is your first time going on a hike, make sure you do ample research before buying a backpack. Not all backpacks are the same; some are intended for very specific kind of use. For instance, something that you would carry with you in the Himalayas will not be wise to carry on a small hike.

However, having a backpack with ample space is a must in any case. You will need something big enough to carry along all the essentials needed for your hike, but yet not so big at the same time that it proves to be a hindrance in between your climb.

Ideally, we would suggest picking a backpack that could expand up to 50 liters and can cinch down to 30 liters. The ideal weight of a backpack should be no more than 2.5 pounds. This makes it light and very versatile.

Step 1 – Sort Your Gear

Lay down all your gear on the floor before you place them in your bag. Ideally, make a list on a piece of paper of all the essentials you need and cross them off once you have placed them in your backpack.

Step 2 – Pack Your Bag

A mountaineering backpack is very different from a regular backpack. When campers pack their backpacks for hiking, there are three principles that come in a simple acronym that you must follow. This is called “ABC”.

We will tell you what it exactly stands for in detail below. Packing efficiently and quickly will take a lot of practice. Having and following these principles will definitely help in guiding you in preparing for your hike.

A for Accessibility

The very first principle is that all of your gear you will be carrying has to be accessible. When you lay all your gear on the floor, divide them on the basis of the immediacy of need. Doing this will make sure that the gear is accessible appropriately.

Below we list the gear based on the immediacy of need.

  • The gear that you will wear straight out of the parking lot. These include gloves, hat, shirt, glasses, socks, pants, boots, and food for lunch.
  • The next set of items revolve around nutrition. This will include at least two water bottles, snacks and so on.
  • After this are camping gears such as trekking poles, ice ax, crampons, foam pad, and the likes.
  • Next are a set of items that entirely depends on the weather conditions. So, you may have to decide accordingly. These will include hard shells, heavyweight gloves, a warm hat and so on.
  • Last are the items you won’t need until you reach the camp. These items include your tent, stove, sleeping pad and bag, food for dinner, and some novels (in case you like to read).

B for Balance

The next principle that your gear needs are to be balanced when you pack it all. When you start packing all the items into your backpack, carefully place all the items of slot number five (mentioned above) into your backpack. Ensure that you place every item appropriately so that you have filled every nook and cranny inside the backpack.

You can begin with the heavier items first so that they will be placed towards your hip and your back. Be careful to use hard-sided and soft items to pad the back of the backpack so that all of them will rest against your back. Be sure to distribute the weight evenly from side to side.

If you end up putting too much of the heavier gear on the outside or towards the top of the backpack, it will cause the backpack to sway much more when you are hiking. Not only will this be highly uncomfortable, but it will be extremely dangerous, especially when you are heading into steeper terrain.

Once you are done packing your bag, be sure to wear it and walk around with it. If you find it heavier on a particular side, then ensure that you reconfigure it.

C for Compression

It is a must that your gear is compressed. You can perhaps use a compression stuff sack for smaller accessories such as deodorant, toothpaste, and so on. Other than these items, in order to compress items in your backpack, you must pack smartly by using soft and hard items together in order to fill all the available space.

Once you have perfectly filled in all the gear inside your backpack, close it up by firmly clinching down the compression strap from the lid and on the sides of the pack. Make sure you evenly clinch everything down.

It is very important to remember not to pull them down to the point where you feel the buckles will end up breaking. Instead, apply enough force so that it tightens up everything inside.


Knowing how to pack mountaineering backpacks can be called an art form. This takes ample practice, along with patience and careful forethought. While some of you may not necessarily agree with the packing style we have mentioned above, no matter what style you choose to do, make sure that it is extremely organized so that it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable while you are on your climb.Furthermore, do not hesitate to practice your packing style a number of times before you head out for your first mountaineering trip.