My backpack has no frame, it doesn’t have much volume, and I don’t use any stuff sacks. How can I pack it to be super comfortable, maximum efficiency, safety, and to fill all the space leaving no gear behind? I am setting off on the Pacific Crest Trail soon, and this is how I pack my pack. I have used these same methods on my Appalachian Trail thru hike, as well as the Arizona Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, and every other long hike I’ve done! I believe it to be a good skill to practice as it will benefit you in multiple ways to more deeply evaluate how you pack your gear, ultralight or not!

Gear Mentioned:
Food Bag 15L –
Odor Proof Food Bag –
Pack Liner –



Hiking Essentials Shirt!

There is no true one best way to pack a backpack for hiking, as everyone has a slightly different bag. Mine is frameless while yours may have a frame for instance. Still I think there’s some good things you can still take away from this video that is applicable to everyone!

– Pack your heaviest gear (usually food, and electronics) closest to your back and your core, as this will help to make your pack feel lighter weight, even while carrying the same gear you always do. If you have heavy items away from you towards the outside of the pack, that weight will be pulling you backwards and putting more pressure on your shoulders all day! Making the pack feel heavier, even if it isn’t.

– No stuff sacks(or less!) and pack your gear loose inside the pack. Let your quilt or sleeping bag fill up the space at the bottom, your tent or shelter fill up space around your food bag, and your clothes fit into any other empty nook. Filling the space more evenly will distribute the weight inside your pack better than if you were to use stuff sacks, as a stuff sack can often be like a dense melon of weight & gear. Stuff sacks can also lead to uncomfortable lumps poking you in the back, while gear stuffed loosely will make for a more comfortable ride.

– Stuff sacks can also harm your quilt and your insulating layers. Stuffing them tightly compresses the down or synthetic insulation, and will cause those layers to be less warm when you do need them. So having insulation packed loose will allow it to breath better, and retain more of it’s loft and warmth extending the life of that gear further.

– When I pack my pack, the main thing I am thinking of is the priority of gear, when throughout the day am I going to need a specific piece of gear, or am I going to need it at all. Quilt goes at the bottom since I won’t need it until the very end of the day, while my medical kit, and my rain jacket goes at the very top so when I need it I can get to it easily and quickly without having to unpack everything.

– Each night look into the weather for the next day (if you can,) and the trail conditions for what is ahead. This will give you a better idea of what you will need most accessible. If it’s going to be cold and windy I will need different gear at the ready vs if it will be sunny exposed and super hot.

– Keep any food, and gear you will FOR SURE need during the day on the very outside of your pack in shoulder strap pockets, mesh pockets, or fanny pack so you won’t need to stop and unpack just to use it. Efficiency in this way allows you to spend more time doing what you want, hiking, and less time messing with your packs content.

– If you use a frameless pack, use your sleeping pad as a frame! Pack your foam pad first, closest to your back, and let that add rigidity and comfort to your pack. This also works with air mattresses if you deflate it, fold it down to the size of your pack, and use it as a frame. Some foam pads are too large for this, and I would just strap it to the top of my pack, which has advantages as well! Now you could use it more easily as a sit pad.

0:00 – Intro
0:21 – Pack Priority
1:02 – No Stuff Sacks
1:45 – Sleeping Pad
2:27 – Pack Liner
2:51 – Quilt
3:28 – Low Priority Gear
3:50 – Food Bag
4:48 – Ground Cloth
5:13 – Cook Pot
5:25 – Shelter
6:06 – High Priority Items
6:42 – Electronics & Medical
7:25 – Waterproof Everything
8:07 – Loosen up
8:33 – Top Priority Items
9:08 – Hang Your Socks
9:28 – Tent Stakes
9:56 – Recap

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