View Full Version : Simple back packing Question

09-21-2009, 10:35 AM
The more people I ask the more confused I seem to become. It is amazing how many different answers you can get. I even thought about doing a survey and seeing the percentages.

Traditionally is it better to have the majority of your weight in the bottom of your Back Pack or on the Top of your Pack?

Simple question, :confused:


09-21-2009, 10:45 AM
Bottom of the pack.How hard would it be to load your pack both ways and see which load works best?

09-21-2009, 01:04 PM
Mac, you can probably go online to Back Packer Magazine and get a recomendation from the folks that should know. I've always tried to evenly distribute the load and that always worked well for me........Sorry I can't be more help.

09-21-2009, 01:08 PM
Personally, I think it is relative to how big your pack is. When you are carrying 40+ pounds, with your pack towering over your head & shoulders, then yes, it is better to have your heavier items as low as possible. When I carry a lighter load (25-30 lbs), it doesn't seem to bother me if I have a heavy item up top.

Here is a picture of my pack at around 25 lbs. Notice that my heaviest item (my tent) is up top. The poles are lashed down in an external side pocket.

On this particular day, rain was threatening all day long, so I wanted to be able to easily access my tent when I reached my destination, without unpacking several different items.

Rog 1
09-21-2009, 01:50 PM
Check out the forums...a quick check just showed that one recommendation is for the heavier items to be higher but not above the shoulders...if terrain is difficult the recommendation is to lower such items to allow better control....sure there will be other suggestions.

09-21-2009, 02:36 PM
I typically like to put my heavier items (tent & sleeping bag) in the bottom. Those items seem to take up the most room and provide a good base for packing everything else.

09-21-2009, 04:45 PM
It really depends on what your wanting to do. If weight distribution is your only concern, then the heaviest things should be in the middle of your back if you are looking for stability over a rough trail. If you are on a well traveled trail or easy hike, you can get away with placing your gear higher but not going over your shoulders. If the weight is over your shoulders, you will be top heavy causing you to lean over or strain your neck keeping the pack in place. If the weight is all the way at the bottom, you are going to have too much pressure on your hip belt and your shoulder straps are going to be digging in your neck. You just have to find a happy medium. When I worked retail at an Outdoor Store/Fly shop I was told by a pack salesman that the reason most packs have the bottom compartment for the sleeping bag is that will force the user to put his bag there and then naturally the people place the heaviest items in the next section and then work light.

I take that into consideration when packing but also like certain things readily available and that usually isn't a heavy item.

09-21-2009, 07:50 PM
Having spent 12 years in the Army and 4 of that on active duty in the infantry (Just wanted to qualify my opinion and let you know I've walked a lot of miles with a pack, not bragging), I suggest having about 60% in the top half and 40% in the bottom half. If it is pulling on your shoulders and you feel it binding up your lower or mid back, it is definitely top heavy though. You should have just enough weight in the top vs the bottom so that it feels like it's resting comfortably on your shoulders and not pulling you backwards. Hope that helps.

09-28-2009, 09:04 PM
Mac here is a link I hope this helps you. I hiked 700 miles on the AT this year and I found that it's user preference when it rained I would put my sleeping bag in the middle instead of the bottom. But typically I put my sleeping bag on the bottom and dense weight to the center close to my back I try to never carry more than 30lbs and I carry a ULA frame less pack.

Below is the link


09-29-2009, 07:38 PM
I too spent some time under a rucksack, IN in earlier years, SF in later. Army LBE not the same as civilian packs; if in jungle never sticks out above your shoulders. Also, had to get it on upside down under a reserve parachute and while heavy, tried to keep heaviest on the bottom when going out of the A/C. Must be some websites to help, but I agree the terrain will dictate much of the decision. Watson