Do you know how to pick a backpack for hiking or camping? Most inexperienced backpackers might tell you, “It’s just a bag”. However, selecting a bag is no trivial matter, as any serious trekker will testify. Trust me: you don’t want to go on a major hike accompanied by an ill-fitting backpack!
5 Tips on how to Pick a Backpack for Hiking
Now that you realize the importance of having a good pack, here are some tips to help you choose a good one for your type of camping trip:
1. Know what you will need
Individual campers and hikers have very varied preferences. Some are very minimalist by nature and take only the bare essentials. Others prefer to be well equipped on their trips. The type and amount of equipment you intend to take will directly influence your decision regarding the backpack you will need.
Once you’re aware of your equipment, you can work out your space needs. Your pack sales person will be able to give you the capacity of the bags on offer. With that in mind, measure out the amount of equipment you intend to take for the longest journey you expect to go on.
2. Does it feel comfortable?
Comfort is probably the most important aspect to consider when choosing a backpack. The purpose of a good trek-bag is to enable campers and hikers to carry the maximum amount of weight with the least amount of effort and inconvenience.
A good backpack will distribute weight efficiently, granting you maximum comfort while carrying it. You will need to test this for yourself to know how well a pack will perform. Good camping equipment stores will have sandbag weights on hand to place in a pack so you can test how it performs under the weight. Carefully consider how comfortable each pack feels before you make a purchasing decision.
3. Distribution of Weight
A rule of thumb is that the shoulder straps should carry about 30% of the weight while the hips, being much more stable, should carry the other 70%. When you test the pack, make sure that the shoulder straps are not restrictive or uncomfortable. Try moving around with it on to see how much mobility the backpack allows you.
Most backpacks will have a sternum strap, which helps to stabilize the backpack. For comfort and stability, position the sternum straps below your collarbone. The hip belts should not be too thick that they affect your mobility or your breathing.
Backpack manufacturers are constantly bringing out “new and improved” models and designs. The only way to know how they perform is to try them out.
4. Choosing your frame
There are basically 2 types of frames – internal and external. Internal frames are thinner and hug your body more closely. They are an ideal choice for hard trails since they don’t restrict your mobility and are so maneuverable. However, they are a bit more difficult to load.
Externally-framed backpacks are easier to pack and are good for beginners doing easy trails. Again, the drawback is that they are somewhat stiffer and may restrict movement. It is, nevertheless, the best type of backpack for children and beginners.
Consider how attachments can be adapted for your backpack. Most packs have snap-on pieces and rings that allow you to integrate accessories. Can your pack take a weather sheet to protect it from the elements?
All things considered, a good backpack almost ensures a great trek at any time of the year. Knowing how to pick a backpack for hiking is sure to enhance your experience in the outdoors. Select your pack as carefully as you would choose a tent for camping. It will become your trusted companion on many a camping trip!