How to Prepare a Backpack for the Mountain

Last Updated on April 1, 2020

How to Prepare a Backpack for the Mountain

What material should we carry in our backpack when we prepare for an outing to the mountain? It is a recurring question whenever we are preparing to reach some mountaintop or for a simple hiking route.

Do we forget something important? Or are we too cautious about carrying so much material on top? It is a difficult question to answer, and that the experience itself will make us over time our backpack go as optimized as possible before any exit.

From here we intend to give some advice and make a list of material that will help you not to forget anything important depending on the type of activity you are going to do and the duration of it.

The first thing that will completely modify the contents of our backpack will be the number of days that we will use it for our departure since it will not be the same for a few hours or two or three days without going through the house.

The issue of large expeditions will be left for another article. It will also depend on whether we spend the night in tents or shelters, and whether we should cook or eat food from a mountain shelter.

And, finally, it will vary according to the type of activity we do, whether it is hiking, mountaineering or mountaineering, with or without snow probability.

As there are many combinations that can be presented to us, what we are going to do is present different sections with classified material based on different criteria, so we will choose those that most interest us for our activity.

You will see a lot of material that is not always obligatory to carry. The idea is that you have a list of everything that you may need and that you review before each departure.

It will be your common sense and your experience that will help you to minimize the contents of your backpack without leaving behind anything of real importance.

When choosing our material we must keep in mind that we are the ones who are going to carry the backpack on our backs, so every gram of weight we carry is important.

How to choose the right backpack for our activity

Before starting to list material to fill our backpack, we will give a series of tips on its characteristics and how to distribute the material in it.

It is very important to choose a backpack with a minimum quality requirement. A good design of the straps, the belt and the espalier will make your adaptation to our back and waist better, and that, therefore, our body will suffer much less when carrying all the weight.

For this, the best thing is to hang the backpack with enough weight, adjust the straps and try to feel comfortable with them. Needless to say, the greater the capacity and volume of the backpack, the more important are the factors that we have just commented.

For very small backpacks, however, these characteristics are more dispensable, because they are designed to carry little weight and, therefore, are not well designed for a good transfer of the weight of the backpack to our hips.

Although it is outside the content of this article, a correct adjustment of the backpack is more than necessary to get its maximum benefits:

Depending on the amount of material to be transported, we will have to choose a backpack with more or less capacity. This capacity is expressed in liters, and we could use the following classification:

  • From 18 to 30 liters: For activities of a single day with little necessary material.
  • From 30 to 40 liters: For activities of a single day with the use of enough material such as mountaineering or climbing.
  • Of more than 40 liters: For activities of several days and with a great load of material.

The small details will make our backpack rise in price and be much more versatile and more comfortable during use. For example, a zipper that opens it completely and frontally, side pockets, two ice ax holders, helmet holders, book covers, etc.

How to distribute the content in the backpack

We will take the precaution of placing the material as follows:

  • In the lower part, the lightest material and the least we will use during the march (for example, sleeping bag, change clothes, although normally the backpacks have a separate lower compartment to access it.
  • In the center, and above all stuck to the back, we will place the heaviest.
  • In the upper part (in the mushroom) little heavy objects and very used (for example GPS, glasses, first aid kit, documentation.
  • In pockets, the smallest objects, taking the precaution to avoid possible robberies to be more accessible.

The most important thing is that the load is well distributed in the backpack, that is to say, that the left and right the backpack weighs the same, to avoid problems when walking and that we are overloaded with some muscles and others not.

It will also be interesting to store things in transparent plastic bags to have them more organized, isolated and visible without having to open them.

What material do I need?

  • Textile material common to any activity
  • ( How to dress for the mountain: Theory of the 3 layers ).
  • T-shirts, polar and jacket.
  • Meshes, trekking pants, and waterproof pants.
  • Gloves, mittens, mittens.
  • Handkerchief, hat or cap.
  • Neck scarf or panties.
  • Feather jacket.
  • Shoes or boots.
  • Change of clothes to change at the end of the activity.

Technical material common to any activity

  • Lip balm.
  • Crossing poles.
  • Water can come with a 1.5-liter thermal cover.
  • Camelbag (if there are no low temperatures so that the water in the tube freezes).
  • 1-liter thermos.
  • Utility knife.
  • Food and drink.
  • GPS and batteries.
  • Mobile with a charged battery.
  • Toilet paper or handkerchiefs.
  • Medicine cabinet.
  • Personal documentation and federation card (if available).
  • Camera and batteries.
  • Plastic bag (for dirty clothes, wet objects or garbage).

Overnight material

  • Insulating or self-swelling
  • Sleeping bag or sack sheet.
  • Bivouac funda.
  • Survival blanket.
  • Hygiene items: soap, brush, and toothpaste …
  • Light towel and fast drying.
  • Flip-flops or comfortable footwear.

How to Prepare a Backpack for the Mountain

Equipment for the provisioning

  • Gas cylinder.
  • Anti-wind lighter, waterproof matches or flint.
  • Thermo 1 liter.
  • Bag of mineral salts or tea (to mineralize snow water).
  • Water purification.

Mountaineering material with snow

  • Crampons and/or rackets.
  • Ice axes
  • Blizzard glasses.
  • ARVA (avalanche detection instrument).

Material for mountaineering (stringing)

  • Harness
  • Carabiners with insurance.

Material for sports climbing

  • Cat feet.
  • Harness
  • Baga anchor.
  • Express tapes
  • Maillons
  • Magnesium bag


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