How to Pack a Backpack for Camping

Camping is a great activity to get outside and explore the world, disconnecting from our hectic day-to-day lives. To have a successful and fun camping trip, packing our backpack properly is of utmost importance. However, packing a backpack for camping can be a daunting and exhausting experience and can prove to be quite challenging. 

We’re here to help you make that experience easier and more efficient. Whether you’re planning an overnight camping trip or a multi-day backcountry adventure, knowing how to pack your backpack can make a big difference in your comfort, safety, and enjoyment. Here are some tricks and trips to help you pack your backpack for camping excursions.

The Right Backpack

Before you begin packing, the first step is to choose the perfect backpack for your trip. There are multiple backpacks available on the market with different sizes, styles, and capacities. Choosing the right one is imperative for a fulfilling and exceptional camping trip. Your choice of a backpack will depend on the length of your trip, the amount of gear you’re taking along and your personal preferences. You should look for a lightweight backpack made of durable, water-resistant materials that can withstand the elements and is equipped with multiple compartments and pockets that help with simple organization and easy accessibility. 

Here are some recommendations for backpacks ideal for camping:

Osprey Atmos AG 65:

This backpack has a capacity of 65 liters and is perfect for multi-day trips. It features Osprey’s Anti-Gravity suspension system, which distributes the weight evenly and makes it feel lighter on your back. The backpack also has a ventilated back panel and adjustable shoulder straps for a comfortable fit.

Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10:

The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 is a versatile backpack that can be used for hiking, camping, and traveling. It has a capacity of 65+10 liters and features a comfortable back panel and adjustable shoulder straps. It also has multiple pockets and compartments for easy organization.

Kelty Redwing 50:

The Kelty Redwing 50 is a lightweight backpack perfect for day hikes and overnight trips. It has a capacity of 50 liters and features a comfortable back panel and adjustable shoulder straps. It also has multiple pockets and compartments for easy organization.

A Checklist

It would be best to make a checklist of all the gear you need to pack before you start your packing. This helps in ensuring that you do not forget anything and have everything that you would require during your camping trip. It prevents unnecessary stress and panic, so don’t forget to make your checklist before you start! Your checklist should include the following must-have items:

  1. Tent
  2. Sleeping bag
  3. Sleeping pad
  4. Stove 
  5. Fuel
  6. Cookware and Utensils
  7. Food
  8. Water bottles or hydration system
  9. First aid kit
  10. Water filter or purification tablets
  11. Headlamp or flashlight
  12. Sunscreen and insect repellent
  13. Maps and compass
  14. Multi-tool or knife
  15. Clothing and rain gear
  16. Toiletries
  17. Organization

After you’re done with your checklist, it’s now time to organize your gear into categories and pack it in a way that is efficient, logical and keeps your gear readily available. Make use of packing cubes or stuff sacks to keep your gear organized and separated. You can organize your gear into categories such as clothing, food, cooking gear, and sleeping gear. 

Another thing to keep in mind is how you pack your stuff. A common approach is to divide your gear into three further categories: heavy items, medium items, and light items. Pack the heavier items closer to your back and center in the backpack, medium items in the middle and the light items on top or in external pockets for easy access.

Compression Sacks

The use of compression sacks is a great way to ensure that there is extra storage space in your backpack. These sacks are designed to compress bulky items like sleepings or clothing, making them more compact and easier to pack. When using the sacks, be careful not to compress items too much, as this can damage the insulation and reduce the effectiveness of your gear.

Order of Packing

Now that you have everything you need and know what to look out for while packing, let’s check out the order in which we should pack our gear. Everything should be packed keeping in mind the weight distribution, the weight of items and easy accessibility of urgent or frequently used items.

Pack your Sleeping Bag and Pad

Your sleeping bag and pad are the bulkiest items in your backpack, so they will go right to the bottom of your bag. Compress your sleeping bag into a stuff sack or compression sack and place it at the bottom of your backpack, as close to your back as possible. Next is your sleeping pad. After rolling it up, you can either attach it to the outside of your backpack, stuff it with your sleeping bag, or place it in a designated compartment.

Pack your Tent

The next essential item on your list is your tent. The packing of your tent is important and should be done carefully. Pack it in a separate stuff sack or compression sack. Make sure to remove all the tent poles and stakes and pack them separately. Depending on the size of your tent, you might have to attach it to the outside of your backpack after packing it in a stuff sack.

Pack your Food and Cooking Gear

To ensure that your food and cooking gear is kept dry and protected:

  1. Pack them in a separate stuff sack.
  2. Place the heavier items like cookware and utensils at the bottom and your food above it.
  3. If you’re going to be using a stove, pack the fuel canister in a separate pocket to avoid any leaks.

Pack your Clothing and Rain Gear

The next thing to be packed is your clothing and rain gear. Pack your clothing in a separate stuff sack or packing cube to keep them organized and protected. Your rain gear should be packed on top of everything else so that it is easily accessible in case of sudden rain or storms.

Pack your First Aid Kit, Map and Compass

It is imperative to keep these three items close at hand so that they can be accessed quickly whenever the need arises. Pack them in a small, zippered pocket or at the top of your backpack. Ensure that your first aid kit has all the necessary medication and medical supplies. Don’t leave without checking and refilling it!

Pack your Miscellaneous Items

Last but not least are your miscellaneous items like sunscreen, insect repellent, headlamp or flashlight, and multi-tool or knife. Pack them in a small, zippered pocket or on the top of your bag for instant access.

Secure loose items

Any loose items in your backpack can shift around and throw off your balance. To prevent that from happening, make use of straps or compression sacks to secure them in place.

Test and Adjust

With your backpack all packed and ready to go, don’t leave without testing it first. Put it on and adjust the straps to ensure maximum comfort. Walk around with it to see if the backpack feels balanced and stable. Suppose it feels uncomfortable or unstable in any way. In that case, you may need to adjust the straps or repack your gear depending on the need.


In summary, packing a backpack for camping requires careful consideration, planning and organization to ensure you have everything you need for a safe, smooth and enjoyable experience. By choosing the right backpack, you can prevent back pain and strain. Packing your essentials with the help of compression sacks and stuff sacks provides maximum organization and storage space. By following these tips, you can pack your backpack like an experienced camper and have a successful and enjoyable camping trip.