5 Tips To Save Space In Your Backpack

When it comes to backpacking, the mantra of "lighter is better" often dominates the conversation. But what about the often-overlooked aspect of pack size?

Picture this: you're trudging along a trail burdened by an oversized backpack that looms over you like a mountain or constantly jostles against your back. Even with technically 'ultralight' gear, carrying an oversized load can hamper your comfort and efficiency on the trail.


Think of it this way: if you've ever tried walking with your arms straight out from your sides, you know how tough it can be - particularly if you're stepping over rocks, turning, & trying not to trip.


That's why it's crucial to keep your gear snug and close to your body for maximum comfort, much like a figure skater tucking in their arms to increase their spinning speed.

In this blog post, we'll delve into 5 helpful tips to shrink your pack size for a more enjoyable backpacking experience.


1. Compress Your Clothes

One of the easiest ways to save space in your pack is by compressing your clothes. Utilize dry bags not only to keep your gear dry but also to compress your clothing. 

Additionally, using a dry bag allows you to shape the compressed items to fit within the spaces in your pack & you'll maximize efficiency without sacrificing comfort.

2. Use A Small Fuel Can That Will Fit INSIDE Your Pot

Pots and fuel cans are among some of the most awkward items we carry as backpackers. They don’t compress, they can’t mold around things…so make sure to use a fuel can that can fit inside your pot…

And for those of you worried about not having enough fuel, I’ve found that a full small fuel can will last me 7 days of cooking one meal and one hot drink every day...and I'll still have some left over!


3. Repackage Your Toilet Paper

Instead of carrying a full roll of toilet paper, repackage it to take only what you need.

Consider investing in a portable bidet for a more eco-friendly and space-saving alternative. If you prefer traditional toilet paper, remove the cardboard roll and compress it as tightly as possible to save space in your pack.


4. Switch To A Down Top Quilt Instead Of A Sleeping Bag

When I started backpacking, my sleeping bag took up the weight and space equivalent to my ENTIRE backpack today!

Transitioning from a traditional sleeping bag to a down top quilt can significantly reduce the size and weight of your sleep system.

Not only are top quilts lighter and more compact, but they also provide excellent insulation, making them perfect for backpacking trips where space is at a premium.

This Topquilt is around 1/8 of the size of those first sleeping bags I used!

5. Embrace Trekking Pole Tents

Trekking pole tents are not only lightweight but also remarkably compact.

With no bulky poles or unnecessary materials, these tents pack down incredibly small, freeing up valuable space in your pack. Embracing a trekking pole tent can revolutionize your backpacking experience, allowing you to cover more ground with less effort.


BONUS TIP: Repackage Bulky Food

Despite efforts from backpacking food suppliers, many products are still packaged in bags much larger than necessary.

Repackage your food into freezer ziplock bags to reduce bulk and save space in your pack. This simple step can make a significant difference, especially on longer trips where every inch of space counts.


While the focus in backpacking often revolves around minimizing weight, shrinking your pack size is equally important for maximizing comfort and efficiency on the trail.

By implementing these tips, you can streamline your gear, reduce fatigue, and ultimately enjoy a more rewarding backpacking experience. So, give these suggestions a try on your next adventure and see the difference for yourself! 

If you have any other space-saving tips to share, be sure to drop them in the comments below.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Shop now

Living Ultralight is not just about the lowest pack weight. It's about more enjoyable experiences!

Tayson Whittaker