How do I pack a backpack to prevent injury to my back and keep it comfortable while hiking?
The key to keeping your back happy is to drive as much pack weight to your hips as possible. A side note on weight is that the lighter your pack overall, the happier your back.
A lot of the packing order depends on your particular pack, but in general, the bottom of a pack is below your hips. Therefore, it is best to put something big and light in the bottom. A fleece is one idea, or your sleeping bag (if it's down, might be less great if synthetic due to the amount of crushing that will happen).
Now that we have the level of stuff above your hips, heavy things go next, right against your back. I like to put my food bag on one side and the tent on the other. Down the middle, cooking gear, maps, books, etc.
If there is room left away from your back, stuff your sleeping pad and random clothes.
On the top all this stuff, put whatever light items you have left (i.e. repair kits, first aid kit, rain jacket).
The key to this idea is that your heavy things are silo-like, i.e. tightly packed stuff sacks. That way their weight will be driven to your hips, and anything stacked on them will also drive weight to your hips. The "looser" your packing job, the less efficiently this will happen.Tweet