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Students on backpacking trip

Backpacking in the outdoors is one of the best ways to experience nature. However, you might have found out a little too late that your pack is leaning to one side, or that you are unable to reach water or snacks. To avoid this, we have listed a few basic guidelines for how to optimize your packing skills, known as the ABC’s of backpacking.

The “A” stands for accessibility. When you are packing, it is a good idea to keep the items that you will need during the day accessible by packing them last, whereas the things you will need for sleeping should be packed first. For example, you should have water, snacks, a first-aid kit, rain gear and any navigation equipment accessible. Also, hand sanitizer and sunscreen are nice to have in reach.

The “B” stands for balance. An unevenly weighted backpack will be uncomfortable on your body. Even worse, it will make you more prone to falling. In order to prevent this, you should plan to put your heavy items in the center of your pack where your body is most connected. It is also important to consider which items will be touching your body. In my experience, I have found that taking my sleeping bag out of its stuff sack, shoving it into the bottom of the bag, then using my sleeping pad or clothing along the back wall is a great way to ensure a comfortable surface touching my back.

The “C” stands for compression. Here’s a good tip - remember to make your big items smaller and fill up all the empty spaces. For example, taking your tent out of its carrying bag and stuffing the items in separately can help compress an otherwise bulky item. Packing your food inside your cooking pot is another great way to save space.

California has some great places to backpack, so get out there whenever you can! For more helpful tips and fun events, check out asirecreation.org/rock-outdoor.

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