How to Better Pack Your Backpack

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Christopher Kimmel / Getty Images

When it comes to backpacking, packing efficiently is essential. Marco Johnson, National Outdoor Leadership School field staffing director, shares his tips from 30 years in the backcountry.

RELATED: Better Backpacking Basics

Don’t leave dead air space. The more rugged the terrain, the more compact you want your pack. Be inventive: Manipulate dense items like food to make them fit around others.

Think double duty.
Skip waterproof pack covers. Instead, wrap items in your tent’s rain fly. One of the myths out there is that you need to sleep nearly naked. But by wearing all of your warmest layers to bed, you can get away with a smaller, lighter sleeping bag.

The most common novice errors: too much clothing and food. Keep the stuff you’ll need on the trail most accessible in your pack. That includes a first-aid kit: If it’s buried, you’re less likely to address a small problem such as a hot spot, which then becomes a bigger problem — a blister.

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