How to pack a backpack: tips & ideas

This post is also available in: Español

Thinking about your next adventure? A trip with the only company of a backpack can be very exciting but if you prepare it wrong, it can ruin the experience. Luckily, we have quite a few trips behind us and therefore, more than one backpack prepared. So, today we give you a series of tips and explain how to pack a backpack so that your trekking is a success. Let’s get started!

torres del paine w trek banner howlanders

Essential things you can’t miss in your backpack

Some obvious and others not so obvious, there are certain items that should not be missing in your backpack or you will miss them in the middle of your adventure.


But how much? And which one? Well, it all depends on how many days you are going to be on the road. Even so, never overload your backpack with too many clothes.

clothes to include in your backpack

A trekking route is not a fashion show, so the clothes you wear should be practical and comfortable.

  • Socks: If they are warm, the better. It depends on the time of year you go, of course, but they will protect your feet during the route. Bring plenty, it is the garment that you will be most grateful to change.
  • Underwear: The same, take plenty. These garments take up little space and it costs nothing to carry a couple more just in case.
  • Thermoactive T-shirts: they will protect you from heat loss and excess sweat.
  • Sunglasses: Very important! Whether in summer or winter, the weather in the mountains changes quickly and sunglasses not only protect you from the sun, but also from the wind. And not only in the mountains, in routes like the minitrekking on the Perito Moreno, but the sun also reflects on the ice of the glacier and can damage your eyes.
  • Tights: They are the most comfortable thing you can wear for a trekking route. Take some for every 2 days that you are going to do the route.
  • Sweatshirt: They are very comfortable and especially for the nights when you are at the campsite, it will come in handy to have one.
  • Windbreaker: for when you are on the move, it is essential. They will protect you from wind and rain.


If you are not used to walking on a mountain trail with a backpack on your shoulders, the most important thing will be the footwear because it stabilizes your ankles.

Take good trekking shoes and check the type of trail you are going to walk. A dry trail is not the same as one where you have to cross puddles. Good non-slip shoes, and sometimes waterproof, can make for a better experience.

trekking footwear

Do not forget a pair of sandals, if possible fastened at the ankles. You will appreciate having them especially when you finish the routes to rest at the campsite or even sometimes to bathe with them in lakes that you find on your way.

Health care and hygiene

Try to carry only cosmetics that have several functions such as a shampoo-gel and in small bottles. Liquids are quite heavy, so try to carry only what is necessary. Don’t forget toothpaste and deodorant.

It is best to carry everything in a plastic bag so that if it spills, it does not stain the other items in your backpack.

You can’t forget a first aid kit with the basics, you never know when it might come in handy. In case of a minor injury, it will allow you to heal and continue on your way, and in case of something more serious, it will help protect you until you get medical help.

A good mountain first aid kit should not be missing:

  • Band-aids
  • Analgesics for headache and/or muscle pain such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
  • Antihistamines for bites or allergies during the trip.
  • Antiseptics to disinfect wounds such as betadine.
  • Insect repellent.


We know that a mountain route helps to disconnect, but it is important to have your cell phone ready for any unforeseen event. It is worth installing offline maps and carrying external batteries or a solar charger.

solar charger

How to pack a backpack?

When we talk about how to pack a backpack, we are not only referring to not forgetting important objects. It is also very important in what order and in what position we place them. A good distribution can save us many back problems.

Distribution of the objects in the backpack

Generally, it is said that the heaviest items should be at the bottom of the backpack. However, with a large backpack, that weight distribution could cause pain in your spine.

The correct order in which you should put your things for a good distribution is:

  • At the bottom, take the opportunity to put large but light objects such as a sleeping bag or a sweatshirt.
  • Then, spare clothes.
  • In the center of the backpack, you should reserve space for heavier items such as shoes, food, or camping gas. This point is the center of gravity, so concentrating the weight there will be much more comfortable.
  • At the top, store all those things that you are going to take out more often to have it more at hand. For example, a raincoat, a bottle of water, something to eat between meals or a first aid kit.
  • In the side pockets, you can place small items such as glasses, flashlights, and documents.
  • If your backpack has special straps, take advantage of them to carry your trekking poles.

It goes without saying, but try to keep your sleeping bag and tent light and share equipment with your friends to carry as little weight as possible.

Keep your backpack tidy at all times

During your trekking route, your backpack will be your closet. Keep everything tidy and try not to make a mess when looking for any of the items. Remember that the tidier it is, the easier it will be to find everything.

Use colored bags

A tip to classify objects is to use colored bags. Try to make them reusable, you know we don’t like to waste plastic.

If you separate each type of item by color, you will find everything much faster. For example, underwear in blue bags, underwear such as pants or leggings in green bags…

In addition, it will help you to keep each garment clean by not mixing with the rest and not getting wet if you have to take something out and it’s raining. Don’t forget to take some empty ones for dirty clothes.

Preparing a mountain backpack is the art of decision-making. We hope this brief guide has solved your doubts and will help you in your next adventure. Is there anything you usually carry that we have forgotten? Share it with the rest of the travelers!


Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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