Being lifelong travelers, we all love our lightweight, multi-purpose gear that may withstand the rigors of the road. Gear ought to be dependable, multifunctional, durable and perform beyond expectations. Nothing could be truer with regards to investing in a good hiking backpack, especially considering it’s likely to be your home away from home. Traveling, especially long-term, will literally test the limits of your bag and your body, and as such this decision should never be made impulsively. Buying your backpack should not be a rushed decision and factors such as trip length, capacity, material, functionally and comfort should be considered. When I first got serious about investing in a good pack, I was at REI for a good three hours -I do believe they started to suspect I was applying for work.
If my three hours was any indication, investing in a good backpack is not really a simple task. With countless backpack manufacturers and styles, it could understandably be overwhelming. Whatever you decide to do, don’t go cheap. You’ll be doing your disservice and purchase a replacement anyways. A good backpack is an investment. You needn’t spend $500 on a backpack, but be skeptical of cheap, no-frills, run of the mill $70 brands, as you’ll regret the design and style flaws and absence of extras. Spend a little bit more for any good backpack from a trusted brand, and will also become the perfect companion for many trips to come. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me through the U.S towards the Middle East for 10 awesome years and I realize it has one other good a decade to go.
Travel Backpack or Hiking Backpack – Before beginning shopping for the right pack, it’s essential to be aware of difference between travel backpacks and hiking backpacks. A travel backpack is a backpack-suitcase hybrid using a zippered side panel comparable to a suitcase. Hiking backpacks are the more often seen cylindrical top loading packs with straps, clips as well as a top lid. Some people have an opinion that hiking backpacks are just designed for the backcountry and has no location for the backpacker, I disagree. What works for you ultimately is dependant on personal preference and elegance of travel. Travel backpacks are perfect for easy, organized use of gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. In addition they function well for short walks or even as a daypack.
On the contrary, should you possibly have camping or long treks inside your travel plans, you might like to think about a hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks are equipped for comfort, proper weight distribution, and toughness. Unlike a travel backpack, hiking backpacks may have enhancements like full-sized hip belts, shoulder and back suspension systems along with plenty of load bearing straps to mitigate discomfort. Granted the top down packing isn’t as useful to access your gear, but that’s part in parcel to proper weight distribution. A good compromise is usually to get yourself a hiking backpack with side load access.
I am generalizing somewhat since they do have travel backpacks that are in the upper capacity range with more advanced suspension systems, but if you’re going to get a 70L travel backpack, you could also go with a hiking backpack. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did for the unexpected 20 mile trek to another town.
Personal Backpacking Style – Next, determine the design of travel you normally like to do. Unless you’re ready to buy a different backpack for each and every trip, determining your travel style will save you a lot of money in the end and give you some foundation gear that’s ready for any trip. For instance, should you generally go on week long trips you needn’t get yourself a high capacity bag and may probably get away with a 35 liter to 50 liter (L) pack, whereas living long-term on the road may need 65L or greater.
Dimensions are pretty subjective though and shouldn’t become the only determining factor. Some people have the ability to pack very bare bones, where others require a bit more. Think about these factors:
How much time can be your trip: Depending on the period of your trip the ability and overall weight of the pack can vary. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But remember that the larger the pack the heavier it will become. 50lbs may not seem a whole lot in the beginning, but 2 months in and this will feel like a lot of bricks.
What sort of Activities are you going to do: I personally feel that one bag can rule them all since i have generally use my pack for everything. However, this might not be the situation for anyone. Knowing what type of activity you’ll do will allow you to zero in on that perfect backpack. If you’re not considering carrying it around much, consider a travel backpack or perhaps a wheeled backpack, whereas in the event you foresee yourself doing long treks then this hiking backpack might be a lot better. I really like to be equipped for any kind of spontaneous activity, so I lean more towards hiking backpacks. Also, hiking backpacks are usually created a bit tougher, so keep in mind that the more challenging the activity, the greater the stress on the bag.
Lightweight or even the kitchen sink: Although I mentioned earlier that dimension is not the main determining factor, it’s still vital that you consider capacity based on what you plan to bring. If ultra light is your goal, avoid high capacity backpacks as you’ll invariably bring a lot of or should you do have the ability to pack light your backpack won’t distribute the weight properly. Conversely, should your backpack is simply too small, you won’t have the capacity to fit all things in. Have an idea from the gear you’re bringing and choose the capacity of the bag accordingly. Don’t hesitate to take your items to the shop to view the way it suits the packs. An established retailer, like REI, won’t have difficulties with this particular.
What To Consider In A Hiking Backpack – Backpacks vary in functionality around they actually do in looks, with the more expensive models obtaining the most features. As with everything, your final decision here is closely linked to which kind of traveling you like to do.
Water-resistant – Your pack is probably not going to be completely waterproof. Meaning, if submerged, or in a torrential downpour your clothing and equipment will still get wet. Although most backpacks now have a rain cover, you will still want it to be made of a tough, rip proof, and light-weight silicone coated nylon or Cordura type material that enables rain or water to bead off and never soak through.
Detachable Daypack – this option is really a personal preference, and not a real deal breaker, as many travelers bring yet another pack for day trips. But also for those centered on traveling light, carrying two bags could be cumbersome. Personally, i like the choice of a detachable daypack when i have it only when I need it. On my own Osprey, the best lid doubles as being a daypack. Much less comfortable being a dedicated daypack, however it serves its purpose.
Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers – A chain is simply as strong as its weakest link. No matter how good the fabric of the backpack, when the attachment points, like zippers, are weak the entire bag is worthless. Ensure that the zippers are tough and lockable where applicable.
Pockets and Compartments – The more compartments the greater. Good backpacks will often have several compartments to assist store and separate your gear which means you won’t need to search through layers of garments just to find your chapstick. For instance, maps may go inside the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored conveniently within the side pocket. However you want to pack, separate pockets allow simple and easy , fast access to your gear. Most backpacks may also have strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, to get to your gear without needing to drop your pack.
Lightweight Internal Frame – Backpacks generally come with an internal frame, external frame, or no frame in any way. I strongly recommend a light-weight internal frame made from strong carbon fiber rods. This gives more load support and just looks better. External frames are bulky, conspicuous, and utilize dated technology and frameless backpacks have awful load support at higher weights. Believe me, without the right weight distribution, you’re shoulders will feel every one of those pounds.
Side Load Access – I’m seeing less and less of the function on the newer backpacks, but should you do eventually choose one with side access you’re golden. You’ll be able to access items from your main compartment in the bag without digging in from your top. You’re life will just be much simpler.
Suspension System with Padded Shoulders and Load Bearing Straps. Don’t even consider purchasing a backpack unless it has either a variable or fixed suspension system, along with a bunch of load bearing straps. The suspension system is the part that generally rests against your back and in which the padded shoulders connect. Fixed system means that it fits to a single torso size, whereas the adjustable system may be calibrated. The whole system is meant to help stabilize load and transfer weight to your hips. The stress bearing straps, just like the sternum strap, will even help move the load around minimizing discomfort and pain.
Ventilation – To minimize the discomfort from an annoying sweaty back, get a backpack with ventilation. Most internal-frame packs will have some type of ventilation system or design feature that promotes airflow, kczxfp a lasting breathable layer between yourself and also the backpack. However, not required for load support, it certainly increases your level of comfort.
Padded Full-size Hip belt – This is among the most important feature of the backpack since your hips will be carrying 80% of your own backpacks weight. The padding inside the belt can help you avoid fatigue, discomfort, and of course load distribution. Make sure you get one that’s full-size, where padding comes around your hip bone towards the front, and isn’t just a thin strap having a clip.
Multiple Straps and Tool Attachment Points – This feature is really a personal preference and doesn’t really impact comfort and load distribution but I do feel it’s just like important. I like the thought of having excess straps, clips and tool attachment points. You’re in a position to perform on-the-fly spot fixes for a number of unexpected circumstances, making your backpack function not only being a bag. You’re in a position to tie, hook, and rig a complete mess of things while on the road without needing to carry additional gear. Some backpacks have begun to include “daisy chains” (typically available on climbing packs) which is actually a series of tool attachment loops.
Internal Hydration Reservoir – An internal compartment that holds your favorite hydration bladder (i.e. Camelpak, Platypus) so that you have hands-free use of H2O. Openings on the backpack allows you access to the sip tube which makes it an extremely practical feature on your long treks. You won’t need to dig to your pack or stop your momentum trying to find your water bottle.