The keys to a successful backpacking trip? Lightening your load and properly distributing weight in your bag

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Hitting the trail for an overnight trip with just a backpack in tow requires a strategy: Bring too little and risk discomfort or hunger; pack too much and you’ll be struggling to keep up. Strike the right balance by knowing how to distribute weight properly and sticking with essential gear that’s compact and multiuse whenever possible. Start with a backpack that’s lightweight to begin with—large packs with heavy frames usually aren’t necessary for a night or two in mild weather conditions—and place your mid-weight items, such as your sleeping bag and tent, at the bottom. Next, add your heaviest items, like cookware, food, and your water bladder. Use packing cubes to save space and keep your clothing and toiletries organized, and add those last. Outside pockets are perfect for odd-shaped items like tent stakes and anything you may need frequently, such as your map or headlamp. Stick with these basic principles and you’re sure to enjoy a comfortable, safe backpacking trip. Happy trails!

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