Bergen Packing 101

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Bergen Packing 101.

The other day I was asked by a friend on how to pack a bergen/rucksack for a long trip where he would be walking into a location and setting up for a week. After I told what I did and how I did it he said why not put up a post about it cause he found it useful. A little background of me is that I have been long distance walking both home and abroad for a long time and although my kit is sometimes getting less and lighter basic principles haven’t changed much. I am also use to tabbing with the kit I have on my back so balance and weigh and comfort are very important for that. One of the main ideas is try to keep your weight as high as possible so it can be spread over your shoulders and back and hips rather than lower down which can cause stress to your body. You also want to keep the weight as close to your back as possible so you do not over balance if going up or down hills also try to make sure the the pack is also balanced sideways so not more pressure is one on side of your body that the other cause otherwise this will hurt too.

I hope this helps people out and please feel free to comment on it.
All contents inside a canoe/bergen liner or a large heavy duty bin bag to keep the items secure and waterproof (especially if you have to do an unforeseen river crossing or typical British summer weather 🙂


1. Brown
2. Light Blue
3. Light Green
4. Orange
5. Dark Blue
6. Dark Green
7. Red
8. Grey Blue
9. Purple
10. Grey

1. Top Outer Pocket – Brown

Waterproof top if not just under lid
Spare map/compass (in waterproof case)
Head torch/torch
Cylume/Lightstick with at least 1m of spare light cordage or Strobe
1 Black bin bag (large)
Spare lighter/match safe
Bergen cover (if you have one and it is not used)
Gloves and warm hat
Small First Kit (not the main one, emergency items only if not on person)

The items here are one that you may want very quickly for emergency or due to weather changes without opening up your rucksack/bergen.
2. Under Lid Pocket – Light Blue
If you have a pocket under the lid:

Spare Batteries for all your devices
comfort kit (hip flask is mine)
book in waterproof bag (staves away boredom)
wash kit if small and not in main bag
repair kit ( black nasty/duct tape, sewing kit, electrical tape, zip ties)

If you don’t have an under lid pocket then put contents in a ditty/waterproof bag and put near top of main part of bergen.

3. Top of Bergen (either above or just below snow-lock but under lid) – Light Green

Waterproof Jacket (if not worn or in top of bergen)
Waterproof trousers/Gaiters
Collapsible Water bottle 2 litre minimum ( I carry a 3 litre bag or bigger but not always full)

The water bottle when full will be useful for main water needs but remember that 1 litre of water weighs 1 kilogram and so if carrying 2-4 litres your weight is going to be higher.

4. Top of Main Compartment – Orange


This needs to be in a separate bag if possible divided into each meal/day. This will probably be the heaviest item in your bergen if on multi day/week trip.

5. Near Top Main Compartment – Dark Blue

Stove kit
Spare long term fuel if necessary ( see the need for extra bags )
Wash kit + Small towel
Main First Aid kit (a more comprehensive and full kit but try to keep it lightweight) ( I use a mountain or mountain leader kit here it is for group kit cause I am trained for it)

Each Item is best if in its own bag to stop cross contamination. Keep all containers upright to prevent spillage.

6. Middle Main Compartment – Dark Green

Warm Fleece/Jacket
Spare clothing (to be worn) (i.e. socks, underwear, T-shirts)

Use the clothing to level out parts of the bag and to bulk out the rucksack so as to try and keep the main weight as high as possible on your back.

7. Bottom Main Compartment – Red

Sleeping Bag/Underblanket
Bivi bag

Here is where to put your sleeping bag or underblanket (if using a hammock). It is best if you keep your sleeping bag already in its bivi bag. The sleeping bag can be kept in a black bin bag or dry sack if you want but I would advise that it may be better to keep it loose so as to fill up the bottom of your bergen and to make sure that there is even space and no air pockets for item to fall down into and so keeping the bag more balanced and stable when walking.

8. Very Bottom of Main Compartment – Grey Blue

Emergency Clothing

This is kept in its own bag at the bottom of your bergen it is to be used in emergency or last day when travelling home. The items I keep in my emergency clothing kit is a pair of very light weight walking trousers, a smartish walking short sleeve shirt, 1 pair of very lightweight socks. If you are travelling back from a long walk/trip or ending your walk near a pub it may not be best to enter in a filthy state so a quick wash and refresh can be good 🙂

9. Side Pocket 1 – Purple

Tarp/Shelter kit
Brew Kit
Stove and small amount of fuel (if not in main bag)
Sheath knife
Folding saw
Water bottle (1litre)

This kit is stuff that you may want to easily use with out going into your main bag and also kit that will be used early on in the set up of your camp. If you do not have a lid pocket the contents of that part of the kit can go there.

10. Side Pocket 2 – Grey

Roll mat
Walking poles etc..

This side is used for my roll mat and walking poles if I am using them. If you are not I would divide the contents of my other side pouch here to balance the bergen up.