Packin' A Pipe

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Junior Member
Nov 10, 2015
Often I see when a noob has a problem with his/her pipe the response is: "you're not packing it correctly, you need to pack it like this, or you need to pack it like that." The responses are often very correct.
I was sitting on the back deck this afternoon and doing my favorite thing, smoking my pipe, drinking some beer, and I thought about how many times I lit/re-lit my pipe. The total was: I don't know. It's kind of like breathing, or like those birds that fly way down to the bottom end of South America, and then find their way back to Canada, instinct!
The first time I tried a pipe, what a disaster! Man, I could barely speak for a week! I had no idea as to what I was doing. My tongue could have been sold as jerky, it was well smoked! I thought that you put tobacco in here, and the smoke came out there!
Well, fifty years later, it's become an automatic function. Kind of like when you sneeze your eyes close. It's something you do, but don't think about: put tobacco in here, smoke comes out there, but now it tastes good!
Honestly, I don't think I could explain to somebody how to pack a pipe. I would have to show them by packing mine, instinct...
What do you think? Is it an automatic thing for you, or what?



Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
My memory is still fresh enough so i think I can comment.
I started smoking a pipe 9 months ago. Like you, I had no idea what I was doing. For about the first 3 months it was a step by step kinda thing to pack my pipe. Three steps, very careful attention to how tightly I pack each step, paying attention to single ribbons to tobacco and still struggling far too often.
These days, although I'm far from an expert, it has become a lot more muscle memory and I get it right about 90% of the time. I can see how in another year it will become automatic, no thinking involved, but I think we all had to go through "basic training" :)



Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
I began smoking a pipe in December of 2012 and found this forum before purchasing my first pipe. Of course, "How To Pack A Pipe" was a common thread then as it is now. I of course read those, and even discovered a few new methods on Youtube and elsewhere. I used to try and practice all these different techniques, and found that one technique might work well for one pipe with one blend, but not with another pipe with same blend... or sometimes same pipe with different blend. Now it seems to be instinct sometimes. Meaning sometimes I get my best smoke out of a pipe where I just don't really bother with thinking about how I'm packing it. Often times that simply means ignoring something like the "three part method" or something else, and simply nonchalantly dropping some tobacco into the pipe, tamping it down, and giving it a light. I think this happens more often with pipes and blends I've used multiple times... regardless of what method I may have used, I have a feel of what the tobacco should like like and feel like in said pipe before lighting. I think..... maybe.


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Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
I've been smoking a pipe for nearly thirty years. No internet back then, and no one to ask. I just fill a pipe and leave the draw as open as it was when the pipe was empty, and use what has become known as breath smoking.



Preferred Member
May 4, 2015
Stuff. Push. Stuff. Push. Maybe put more in if it'll fit. Light and go. I'm sure I'm doing some sort of strategy, but it's entirely subconscious at this point.



Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
By feel, pipe in pouch scoop, tamp with finger, scoop, tamp and so on until bowl is full. Check the draw and light up. Been it that way since 1965. From the tin? A little ore efficient as I can see to scoop. Bottom of he tin? Dump the remaining tobacco in the bowl, tamp and open another tin.



Preferred Member
Jul 1, 2012
When I first started out I typically over thought every aspect of pipe smoking. Now, I just let it come naturally, and I have found a greater level of enjoyment.



Preferred Member
Nov 23, 2010
Packing a pipe is like getting to play at Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. :wink:



Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
Packing a pipe is mostly automatic, a muscle memory thing, for me, but that doesn't mean I don't think about it and reconsider now and then, with modest tweaks and adjustments. I used to go more in layers, though gently, and now it is more gravity packing with some pressure (light) with finger and thumb to level the top, but not press it down hard. I grew up watching my dad smoke a pipe most of the daylight hours and on into the evening except for mealtimes, so by the time I smoked at pipe in my early thirties, it was already a learned behavior. We were pretty close, despite being somewhat decidedly different people. That actually helped the bonding somewhat. But I had the packing, smoking and cleaning down to automatic with nearly the first bowl, it was all so familiar.



Staff member
May 12, 2015
Carmel Valley, CA
By feel, pipe in pouch scoop, tamp with finger, scoop, tamp and so on until bowl is full. Check the draw and light up. Been it that way since 1965. From the tin? A little ore efficient as I can see to scoop. Bottom of he tin? Dump the remaining tobacco in the bowl, tamp and open another tin.
That's my "method" also. Bottom of bag or tin, I open another first, and put the fines from the old one on top.



Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
I can relate to the inability to teach a skill that is complex, but second nature.

My son and I had many discussions involving computers, 25 yrs ago, that left me mystified.

He knew how to use it, but to explain it (to me) was a whole nuther story.

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