»Choose a backpack that will fit your torso size and will be large enough to hold all your gear. Some packs are adjustable in length, and some are designed for women as well. Some also come with a detachable fanny or day pack for doing short hikes.
»Once you have chosen a backpack, try loading it and then try adjusting it to see what is most comfortable for you. Generally, you’ll want the sholder straps to bring in the pack as tight to your shoulders as possible. You want the distance between the shoulder and hip belt to be adjusted so the weight of the pack is split between them.
»To put on your pack do the following: Have it loaded, bend over at the waist and hike the pack up high on your shoulders. Then tighten down the shoulder strap and connect the sternum strap. While you are still bent over, attach your hip belt and tighten snugly. Then, as you stand up straight, you should feel the weight of your backpack transfer to your shoulders and hips.
»When loading your backpack try to keep as much of the weight as close to your back as possible. This helps to keep your pack from getting leverage on you, making you feel like you want to tip over backward. Since water is the heaviest thing you are likely to carry, try attaching your canteens to the hipbelt. Some packs come with a water bladder with a sip tube that you can drink from while you hike. That is a nice feature.
»Try to load your pack with things you are less likely to need on the bottom. For instance: you would put your sleeping bag in first, then your sleep pad, then your tent, then your footprint/groundcloth. Packing this way will allow you to pull out the items in the order you’ll be setting them up. Make sure to keep your rain gear on top.
»Keep a large plastic garbage bag in an accessable outside pocket so when you arrive at your campsite, or stop for a rest, you can pull it out and spread it on the ground to put your backpack on. You can also use a corner of it to sit on as well. This will keep you and your pack clean and off the damp ground.
»Cinch down all straps nice and tight and secure any loose or dangeling straps. You don’t want your pack to shift around or get a loose strap end caught in anything.
»Do not have anything hanging from your pack. As you walk it will swing around and quickly become bothersome.