Tips on packing a backpack

There’s some kind of science behind packing a backpack right. While some of these may seem like common sense, when it comes to playing jigsaw puzzle with your items, suddenly it feels like a bigger challenge than expected. Here are 10 tips to aid in packing a backpack more effectively.

1. Put heavier stuff at the bottom to balance out the weight.
Whether it’s a top load or a side load backpack, the heavier items such as sleeping bags/electronics/toiletries/shoes would do better at the bottom in terms of support, followed by lightweight items such as clothes.

2. Rolling your clothes
This helps to minimise crease and saves space. Folding them regularly in square-shaped pieces may cause ugly fold marks on certain fabrics, especially when the weight of other things stack on top of it like a manual iron.

3. Pack frequently used items in the compartments that are easily accessible
Surely EVERYTHING can’t be frequently used. Prioritize and pick out the items you need to most. Is it your swiss army knife, or portable charger, a pocket phrasebook? Putting them in compartments means less fuss trying to get it out, and between commuting, the main compartments still remain securely locked while these items are easy to reach for.

4. Papers and books in the spine-compartment of the backpack
Some backpacks don’t have this but it works the same way, lean books or laptops along the spine of the backpack. For backpacks with a slotted compartment, put it in there. It helps prevent dog-eared books and protects your laptop!

5. Pack basics.
Bring sets and items that are easy to mix and match in order to have a multiple combination of outfits. For example, I always make sure to have a grey, black and white tank top / t shirt which I can then a pair of jeans, a bikini, a pair of shorts, a dress or something slightly fancier for nights out in cities. Pack enough clothes but not too much.

6. Zip lock/Compression bags
These help to protect your things from water (in case of rain, sea-water, or a lack of a raincover), exploding shampoos and also helps to optimize space as it compresses your items.

7. Don’t overpack
Anything you can buy on the road, don’t bother bringing it along. Perishables are often available in most places, unless you have a specific brand of moisturizer than can only be found in your home country. But then again if you’re that fussy perhaps backpacking is not your cup of tea. Here are some tips on how to prevent overpacking.

8. Books
Use a kindle. I cannot believe I’m saying this because I’m a huge non-believe of digital books since I love physically flipping through pages. But it really does help to save a lot of space when you have practically 100 books in 1 flat device. Or if like me E-books are a no no, bring just one book and be open to trading them in hostels or with travellers. That is, if you’re not too fussy about what titles you pick up along the way.

9. Hanging frenzy
Hook carabiners to your backpack. It comes in handy more often than you think. It can hang flip flops, a wet towel, sneakers (shoelaces tied to form a loop), tie string across to secure sleeping bags/tents. When things are hanging outside your backpack, there’s more room for other things inside. However, while commuting or going on flights, it may cause a problem. Hence let’s move on to #10.

10. Bag cover
Get one of those transport covers, it’s one of the most useful things to bring along on a trip. I recommend this Deuter cover. Not only is it small once folded down, it acts as a rain cover, and can easily zip up to hide all straps or loose-hanging items when going on a bus, train or checking it in at the airport.


Wanderer of lands, searcher of souls. Last seen tree hugging and running wild into the mountains. Might have eaten all the ice cream in the tub.

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