An REI employee demonstrates how to pack a Mountainsmith Juniper 55 backpackAt Mountainsmith, we build backpacks from the waist belt up.  As one of our original products was the lumbar pack, we were founded in 1979 on the belief that it is important to carry your load as efficiently as possible. With 35 years of focus on the lumbar pack, we feel we have a pretty good understanding of how to build a great waist belt. Building up from there, we stack the weight on to that waist belt load point and create some of the most ergonomic backpack systems on the market.

But we can only go as far as designing an incredibly efficient backpack carry system. You as the user must fill that pack with your backcountry essentials, and there is a right and a wrong way to do that. Knowing how to efficiently pack a backpack can make a big difference in your endurance on the trail.

With a little help from our friends at Peanuts or Pretzels, we can all become experts in packing a backpack.  The most important thing to remember, heaviest items go on top, closest to your shoulders.

A small excerpt from their post:

The Mountainsmith Lariat 65 with its giant U zipper lies on a bedHow to Pack Your Backpack Properly

If you have a top loading backpack, then Hayes recommends that you lean the bag upright against your leg and reach in from the top to pack it.  The purpose is that you can push items down to fill in the space easier and use gravity to help you out.  You can also easily lift the pack up to gauge how the weight is as you go.  If the pack is laying down on the floor or on it’s side, it is more difficult to do this and even a little more awkward to pack.

Of course, this means that you will be standing up while you pack because the bag is leaning up against your leg.  To minimize having to move around a lot of bend over, you may want to lay our items out on a bed.  That way you can stand next to the bed as you pack and it is more convenient for you to grab items, and even take some out to adjust a you go along.

Most backpacks have a top loading feature, but some may have a side loading capability, similar to a duffle bag or standard piece of luggage.  Our Moutainsmith backpacks actually have both features.  With the Mountainsmith Juniper 55 Backpack  and the Mountainsmith Lariat 65 Backpack  you can either load from the top, or we can lay the bag down horizontally and open the huge U-shaped zipper to pack it like a standard suitcase.  We have grown to love this feature.  You can keep your pack organized and able to have easy access to what’s in your pack.

To read their entire post, read on here.

Liz Wilson from Peanuts or Pretzels hikes with her Mountainsmith Juniper 55 through the woods

For more from Josh and Liz Wilson visit or follow their adventures on Twitter @PeanutsPretzels and like their page on Facebook.

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