How to pack your rucksack for a cold weather walk
For any hillwalker, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, preparation is key. That’s especially true during the colder months, when you need to think carefully about what to wear and what to bring.
In fact, poor preparation can severely impact your performance and enjoyment of a walk. Not enough food for a long trail? You’ll probably end up turning back once you’ve run out of energy. Forget to bring your jacket? You might be going home with a fever.
Packing your rucksack is a huge part of that. And depending on what you’re bringing, you’ll need to know how to efficiently pack it to bring the most things without weighing yourself down.
What should you bring?
Before you pack your bag, it goes without saying that you’ll need to think about what you’re actually bringing first!
There’s a few things you should always bring on a hillwalk during cold weather, but other items depend on what sort of trail you're going on; the length, terrain, scale, etc.
You’ll also want to double check the weather forecast in case there’s heavy winds and rain expected to join you.
But overall, think about your layers. You’ll likely be wearing your under and middle layers during the whole trip, so you don’t need to worry about packing those.
However your overlayer, such as a shell jacket and rainpants, might not be needed unless it starts raining. So make sure there’s room for those.
There’s also food and drink to think about. A good water bottle goes a long way, and you should pack snacks based on how long the trail is.
Finally on essentials, we’d recommend bringing a spare change of clothes. Anything can happen on a hillwalk - and travelling back home drenched in water or covered in mud isn’t fun.
So what’s the best way to pack your bag to make sure you can fit everything in
Packing your rucksack
There’s definitely an art to packing your bag. You need to balance the weight, so you’re not being dragged backwards or to the side, whilst also thinking about the things you might need to grab quickly without too much rooting around.
First of all, you should pack your heaviest items at the bottom. If you’re just going on a regular walk and coming back the same day, this isn’t too important - but if you’re thinking of camping or setting up a barbecue you’ll want to put objects such as tents, stoves, and sleeping bags near the bottom to help distribute the weight.
If you’re not bringing these things, don’t worry - put your spare change of clothes at the bottom. It’s unlikely you’ll need these until the end of the trip, so it doesn’t matter if you need to dig around for a while.
Next up is your waterproofs or equivalent outer layer. These should go below your snacks because they’re quite large so should be easy to spot and grab in a pinch.
Food and drink should go last so you can quickly access them. Some rucksacks come with pockets on the side, so if yours has these, put your water bottle in one for easy access.
Finding a good rucksack is just as important as knowing how to pack it. If it doesn’t have enough space or separate compartments, you’ll struggle even if you’re a bag packing connoisseur.
The Sprayway Akka 30L is a great all-rounder for hillwalking, with multiple compartments, padded shoulder and back straps, mesh lining, a rain cover, and more.
The Drypack from Trekmates is also a great option. It comes in 15, 20, 22, and 30 litre options so you can pick what suits you best - whether you’re going on a short walk or a lengthy camping trip.
You could even grab a rucksack rain cover in case you’re braving a particularly heavy storm. These are reversible to help with visibility - one side is bright silver whilst the other is dark grey. So if you’re worried about losing each other in the mist and rain, grab one of these!
And finally, Trekmates’ Dryliner Drybags are completely waterproof and great when you’re expecting heavy rain, or are going on an activity such as kayaking and sailing.
If you’re heading out on an adventure with some Sprayway or Trekmates kit using these top rucksack tips, let us know. Send us a picture of you on the trail and send it to us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with #Sprayway for a chance to feature on our social media.