I came across a very interesting article on the Cotswold Outdoor site about how to pack a rucksack (See article here). Whilst a good rucksack is important for any long-distance path – packing it properly is equally important.

Now, I am of the ‘the lighter the better’ school and managed to squeeze everything I needed for my last three-day trip along the Coleridge Way into a 26 litre daysack; including my tablet and charger (for taking notes and typing up the route), two cameras and three days of Ozy’s (the Labrador) food, my food and water and spare clothes. However, if you are taking longer or camping you may need to have a good think about packing your rucksack.

Cotswold suggest that you need a 50-60 litre rucksack for two or more days backpacking and I think it depends on whether you are taking a tent and sleeping bag or not. However, in my experience most people use B&Bs so a smaller bag would probably do.

The art of packing a bag is weight distribution and making sure that those things you’ll need regularly along the trail are easily accessible together with anything you’ll need in an emergency. In addition my advice is to wrap everything up in plastic bags – not very environmentally friendly but keeps things dry.

So the order of packing (bottom up) is as follows:

How to pack a rucksack

How to pack a rucksack for the Coleridge Way

  • Tent – there are a number of campsites along the route (try Quantock-on-Line or Visit Exmoor). Pop your tent upright in the middle.
  • Sleeping bag – store next to the tent in a waterproof bag.
  • Cooking equipment – there are plenty of places to eat en-route, but if you want to take a stove, this too goes near the bottom. If the stove takes liquid fuel, pop this in one of the outside pockets and make sure its upright.
  • If the bag has a bottom access compartment, then use this to put your dry change of clothes (remembering to wrap these up in waterproof polyethylene).
  • Put food towards the top of the pack.
  • Lastly put your waterproofs at the top of the bag for easy access and make sure you don these as soon as it gets wet (rather than after!).
  • If your rucksack has a top lid pocket use this for smaller items such as a first aid kit, sun cream, torch and cash/keys etc.

Cotswold suggest that you check the balance of your sack by sitting it on the floor. If it topples over left or right, then it may need re-adjusting. If it is top heavy or falls to the front, then this may put a strain on your back.

As for what you may need in your rucksack – watch this space …

Thank you to Cotswold Outdoor for allowing me to use the article content and picture.

Ian Pearson