Hiking in South Africa can be daunting. One way to relieve a little of the stress is to ensure your backpack is packed well, that way you know you have all the essentials and are not carrying any extra, unnecessary weight. Organisation is the key to getting this right and you will find that it is much more comfortable to carry around than a back pack that has just been stuffed with items. Weight distribution is extremely important, and a lot of emphasis is put on this.
- Opt for a lighter backpack to help to keep the weight down, many older style backpacks are weighty even when empty.
- Plan ahead – is the trip short or long? A longer trip means carrying more food and clothes, there is often no shops close by once you get on the trail.
- Weight distribution is important, but how you pack depends on the type of backpack you have. The backpacks that have an external frame need to have the heaviest items packed at the top and close to your back while internal frame backpacks, which are becoming more common, heavier items should be more centred. Packing this way helps to keep your balance by altering your centre of gravity across rough terrain. Lighter items always go at the bottom, sleeping bag first.
- Try to avoid hanging items externally off the backpack as they can swing and cause uneven weight distribution.
- Do not overload the backpack. It needs to weigh no more than approximately 20-30% of your own body weight.
- Pack liquids and food in separate zip lock bags. Pots and utensils should also be packed in bags.
- Utilise as much space as possible. Roll spare pairs of socks into shoes, put t-shirts inside pans, pack for the weather, It can get cold even in South Africa.