When you’re out on the open road, your pack becomes your wardrobe, your tool shed and your mantelpiece. But an undisciplined backpack makes for a troublesome trek; heavy and awkward, with your passport last seen somewhere between smelly socks and an unfinished bottle of flat lemonade. 

It’s tough to stay organised on the road, so rather than condemning yourself to a trip of perpetual bag de-cluttering, it pays to take an objective approach to packing before you leave home. That means choosing a bag, deciding your weight limits, and keeping to them – even if it means your loyal teddy has to sit this trip out. The first step is to assess the nature of your journey. If you are travelling only to hot places, you can shave up to ten litres off the size of your backpack. Likewise, a trip of less than six weeks or so will require maybe fifteen litres less space than an open-ended tour.

As a backpacker, you’ll have to be self-reliant on the road which means there are certain things you’ll need to make room for: duct tape, compass, sleeping mat… did we mention duct tape?

Once you’ve chosen your bag and narrowed it down to the essentials, there’s still a vital step to take: packing. Ergonomics is a word you will want to familiarise yourself way before you find yourself struggling down the high street to the railway station. Keep the heaviest items closest to your back, light items at the top and the bottom, and be sure to strap it on in three places: shoulders, chest and hips. Your back will thank you for it tomorrow.

Check out this infographic that guides you through the bag selection process, and provides tips on what you need and how to carry it. Listen to your head (and your back). And don’t forget the duct tape!

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