That awkward moment when you can’t fit all your gear in your pack

After realizing I finally have everything that I’m going to need for the trail I decided to take the cliche gear spread photo.

(Though cliche it may be, I still search the appalachian trail tag on instagram periodically to see other people’s spreads…)



Like everyone else who is about to start their first thru-hike, it looks like I have a lot of shit. But I wasn’t worried about it because I went on a week long shake down hike from Springer to Neels Gap last year and I could carry everything I needed.

So the next day I decided to try and pack everything up with 5 days worth of food to figure out where I like to have everything in my pack. This is what happened.



I completely failed. I don’t know what went wrong but somehow I could only fit a little more than half of my gear into the main part of my pack. (It looks like less than half but that’s because the clothing I’ll be wearing is in the photo too.) I started freaking out because how am I supposed to carry that much gear outside of my pack! I have some gear that is different than last year but it’s more lightweight. And the main parts of my gear like my tent and sleeping bag are exactly the same! What makes it worse is that my dad had the same pack as me and told me many times how he narrowed down his gear to the point where he had extra room.

I just could not understand why everything wouldn’t fit.

Then I remembered that I have a 40L pack and most people have anywhere between 50-65L. So that could be the problem. But I still have no clue how in the world my dad was able to fit his winter gear into a 40L pack with extra room. I’m sure he’s looking down on me laughing his ass off at the fact that I’ll never know his secret.

I wound up ordering the same pack but in the 55L. (Thanks for the 8 month early birthday present mom). My 40L pack is too old & dirty to return but at least I have a durable & waterproof backpack to use on vacations…

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Chris : Jan 31st

    I got some compression bags for my down sleeping bag and underquilt, those things are like magic, i think the compression is 3:1 it freed up some space in my 60L pack lol, no idea how someone used a 40L but there are back pack wizards that do it! I too have this same issue but with a 60L pack so hopefully ill get all my stuff jammed in there just in time to walk up to springer in March. Sorry to hear about your dad. Happy Trails, Chris G.

    • Avatar
      Kirsten Fraude : Feb 9th

      I don’t have any compression bags but I do have cuban fiber stuck sacks that compress really well and I still couldn’t figure out how to make everything fit. I seriously can’t figure out how my dad made everything fit in his 40L pack. Haha And I’m sure you’ll figure it out! And if not you can always ask for a shakedown at Neels Gap.


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