How to pack a backpack – weight distribution
Internal backpacks have recently become the standard backpacking frame type. While trail hiking with an internal-frame pack, items with the most weight wants to be centered high between the shoulder blades and close to your back. By doing this, the weight is placed on the hips which should hold most of our backpacking pack’s weight. When off the trail, items should be placed a bit lower on the back, lowering your center of gravity and stabilizing you better on rough terrain.
External backpacks are still used, although less common than internal frames. They are recommended for trail hiking only. The heaviest items should be packed on top and closes to the back to center the pack’s weight over the hips and help you stay in a more upright stance.
Either frame type you choose, medium weight gear (water filter, first-aid kit, stove) should be placed in the middle and furthest from the back. Lightweight items (sleeping bag, clothing, odds and ends) should be placed lowest in the backpack.
Be careful to not overload your pack or body. A loaded backpack shouldn’t exceed 25% – 30% of your ideal body weight. Although this is a general guideline, some experienced backpackers may be able to carry more weight. Beginner backpackers and less-fit persons should start with less weight.