Your backpack is one of the most important pieces of gear as it allows you to carry all of your hiking essentials.
Without your backpack, your hiking experience would not be the same.
As with most hiking gear, there are dozens of different makes and models of backpacks it can be completely overwhelming. What will help ease your mind and make the decision process much easier is knowing what is important to you in a backpack, and what you should consider when choosing a pack.
So what should you be thinking about as you choose a backpack?
Consider your plan. What will you be using the backpack for? Simple day hikes or 5 day backpacking trips? This will help you determine what size (capacity) pack you need. As far as sizing goes, there are three different types of packs:
1)Weekend packs (30-50 liters): designed to accommodate enough gear and food for a light packer for 1-3 nights. Those using this size of a pack must learn to be an efficient packer.
2)Multi-day packs (50-80 liters): great for warm weather trips that are 3-5 days long. This size is also used for day trips, 1-2 night trips, as well as backcountry skiing.
3) Extended trip packs (70+ liters): ideal for 5+ nights. This is also the preferred choice for backpackers with young children, and winter expeditions lasting longer than one night.
Consider the features you are looking for. Deciding on the features that are important to you will be easy once you consider the types of hikes you plan on doing. If you are going to be hiking on hardcore trails in all types of weather, you will want to invest in a backpack that is waterproof and durable. If you want a simple backpack for 3-hour hikes, you only really need a small pack that will carry the top 10 hiking essentials.
Some other features to consider: backpack frame types, ventilation, pack access, pockets, removable daypack/top lid, sleeping bag compartment, padding, attachment points, rain cover, and a hydration reservoir. Learn more about these backpack features to help you decide what is important to you.
Consider your size. Getting a pack that fits your frame correctly has the potential to make or break your trip. The last thing you want is to find out your new pack is rubbing your back the wrong way, 3 hours into a long hike.
So how do I know if the pack fits me correctly? There are two things to pay close attention to 1) the size of the hip belt, and 2) the length of the suspension system. In choosing an appropriate backpack, you will need to determine your torso length. This is the key measurement in choosing a backpack that fits you right.
As with all hiking gear, it is best to try the pack on before purchasing, and pay close attention to weight, ability to move your arms freely, and the comfort of the straps on your shoulders.
To recap, while choosing the best backpack for your adventures, be sure to consider your plans, the features you are looking for, and your size. This will ensure you end up choosing the backpack that will carry all your essentials, fit you properly, and meet all your needs for many hiking adventures to come.
What is most important to you in a backpack? Do you have a make and model that you love? We would love to hear your input.
Best of luck in finding the perfect pack for your hiking adventures!