Before I joined the Infantry, I used to wonder how people would pack for long hikes. Boy, did the Army give me a ton of experience on how to wear a pack for long distances and multiple days of living out of said pack. In fact, it was some of those experiences that really got me into designing and improving packs. So now I am going to pass some of that knowledge on to you and some other stuff we have learned along the way.
Balance the load
Its important to keep the load balanced in two directions left to right across the pack and Top to bottom in the pack. Lighter stuff to the bottom of the pack heavier stuff to the middle of the back. A pack “that's uneven and lop-sided will, without a doubt, lead to pain” (grittsoldier.com, aug 22). Trust me the pain will be both short terms and long term if you violate this rule. We also recommend wearing your chest strap and hip belt to keep the weight close to the core of your body.
Lid or Top of pack
Post packs have some sort of lid or top. This is an area I keep anything I will need in at an isntant. Examples included small on demand items. Maps, sunglasses, Medical (we recommend refuge medical), snacks, water filter / purification.
Think about this section as items you would need if you are going to set your pack down for 10 minutes. A lot of the time I have things like socks, wet weather gear, ponchos, things you will need to find easily during a long hike but not necessarily you would need to pull out of your pack to set up a camp site.
Core of pack
This area is for items you will need for when you stop for the day. This is where remembering to keep the load balanced from top to bottom. Lighter stuff on the bottom and heavier stuff toward the top like sleeping bag at the bottom, heavier stuff moving up, “cook kits, stoves, fuel” (rei.com). This is where I break from the norm between the sexes. I would recommend Males carry their heavier items higher in their pack. I would also recommend women carry their heavier weight items on or slightly below the midline of the pack. We also recommend you take the loaded pack for a short hike 1 to 3 miles and get a feel for the way the load wears and then adjust accordingly.