I always wonder, in what way I can pack my things so that the weight distribution will be good and I can find it handy to get the things quickly instead of unpacking the entire backpack.

I know that light and bulky stuff should go to the bottom, then a bit heavier stuff to go in the middle, and finally on the top of that should be what you need frequently through out the day.

Is there a benefit to pack it in a Vertical manner? Or should one stick to Horizontal packing sense?

EDIT: I am considering this in context of 3-4 days of trek.

  • This depends on the backpack/style of tour you are going for. Daypacks for mountaineering often have a zipper which allow you access to nearly everything so I tend to pack horizontally and try to compress my stuff as much as possible (this might be tougher to be done while packing vertically).
    – Wills
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 17:23
  • Why put your center of gravity high?
    – Vorac
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 9:57
  • @Vorac: It seems like you are coming up with a sensible point here. Please elaborate?
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 10:13
  • I have met the "put light items at bottom, heavy items at shoulder level", but never understood it. One obvious effect of this is rising one's center of gravity, making them less stable. This can be felt at difficult terrain.
    – Vorac
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 10:37

2 Answers 2


I tend to find that although I plan to pack either horizontally or vertically it never ends up that way, though I've tried both in the past.

I now tend to pack in a manner of:

  • How likely am I going to need that item.
  • Will using this item remove it from my pack (food)
  • Will using this item lighten my pack afterwards (gas canister / water bottles)

If I have something long and thin, then I try and keep it centred in my pack, working it in the same way my pack framework goes. Whilst if you find you have a lot of items like this you can pack them in in a manner which will leave your pack mostly vertical, but ultimately you will find that things won't stay this way (especially if like myself you get a little untidy, by the time I was done camping in Italy my pack was just stuffed full haphazardly for the plane home - this trip was a week long but we stayed in the one campsite).

As aucuparia stated, you will find you end up with a combination. What you need to aim for is a balance between weight and organisation. If I have two water bottles, one either side of my pack (usually externally but still could be internally) then emptying them evenly will help your pack. I tend to pack snacks in horizontally across the top of my pack, with cans and cooking equipment vertically (stacked) midway down. With clothes I like to pack either way as I don't notice a difference.

Try both out and see which is most comfortable for you.

Edit: since you stated it was for a 3-4 day trek, I'd recommend doing what I've done in the past which is a day long trek taking what you need for a 3-7 day trek and seeing how it goes. Do this a few times, weeks prior to your planned trek, this will allow you to see whether you prefer vertical or horizontal packing, and how comfortable your pack then is.


I'm assuming you mean whether long and thin things should go in vertically or horizontally, or folded clothes go in horizontal or vertical layers.

The advantage of packing vertically is that more of your stuff is easily accessible from the top of the rucksack. Packing horizontally means the things at the bottom are hard to get to. The disadvantage of vertical packing is that it's harder to get the weight distributed equally from side to side (and a lopsided pack is definitely something to avoid).

But in practice you'll usually have a variety of shapes and sizes so you'll end up with a combination of both.

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