Being lifelong travelers, we all love our lightweight, multipurpose gear that may withstand the rigors of the road. Gear needs to be dependable, multifunctional, durable and perform beyond expectations. Nothing could be more true when it comes to buying 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 thus this decision should not be made impulsively. Buying your backpack should not be a rushed decision and factors like trip length, capacity, material, functionally and luxury should always be considered. When I first got serious about investing in a good pack, I was at REI for a good 3 hours -I think they started to suspect I was trying to get work.
If my three hours was any indication, investing in a good backpack is not really always easy. With numerous backpack manufacturers and designs, it can understandably be overwhelming. Whatever you do, don’t go cheap. You’ll be doing your disservice and buy a replacement anyways. A good backpack is definitely an investment. You needn’t spend $500 on the backpack, but be wary 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 to get a good backpack coming from a trusted brand, and will also be your companion for most trips to come. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me from the U.S to the Middle East for 10 awesome years and I realize it has another good 10 years to visit.
Travel Backpack or Hiking Backpack – Before you start shopping for the right pack, it’s essential to be aware of difference between travel backpacks and bulk backpacks. A travel backpack is actually a backpack-suitcase hybrid using a zippered side panel much like a suitcase. Hiking backpacks are the commonly seen cylindrical top loading packs with straps, clips along with a top lid. Many people have an opinion that hiking backpacks are merely suited for the backcountry and contains no location for the backpacker, I disagree. What works for you ultimately boils down to personal preference and elegance of travel. Travel backpacks are ideal for easy, organized access to gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. Additionally they work well for short walks or perhaps as a daypack.
On the contrary, should you possibly have camping or long treks in your travel plans, you might want to think about a hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks are designed for comfort, proper weight distribution, and toughness. Unlike a travel backpack, hiking backpacks could have enhancements like full-sized hip belts, shoulder and back suspension systems along with plenty of load bearing straps to mitigate discomfort. Granted the best down packing isn’t as easy to access your gear, but that’s part in parcel to proper weight distribution. A good compromise would be to get yourself a hiking backpack with side load access.
I am just generalizing somewhat because they will have travel backpacks which are within the upper capacity range with increased advanced suspension systems, however, if you’re getting a 70L travel backpack, you could as well opt for a hiking backpack. Believe me, you’ll be very glad you did for that unexpected 20 mile trek to another town.
Personal Backpacking Style – Next, determine the style of travel you normally like to do. Unless you’re prepared to purchase a different backpack for every trip, figuring out your travel style can save you a lot of money in the long run and provide some foundation gear that’s ready for just about any trip. As an example, in the event you generally go on week long trips you needn’t get yourself a high capacity bag and could probably get away with a 35 liter to 50 liter (L) pack, whereas living long-term on the road may need 65L or greater.
Dimension is pretty subjective though and shouldn’t become the only determining factor. Some individuals can pack very bare bones, where others require a little bit more. Think about these factors:
Just how long can be your trip: Depending on the length of your journey the capability and overall weight of your pack will be different. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But bear in mind that the larger the pack the heavier it will become. 50lbs may well not seem a great deal in the beginning, but 2 months in and it will feel like a lot of bricks.
Which kind of Activities will you do: Personally, i think that one bag can rule every one of them since i have generally use my pack for everything. However, this will not be the case for everybody. Knowing what sort of activity you’ll do will help you zero in on that perfect backpack. If you’re not thinking about carrying it around much, look at a travel backpack or even a wheeled backpack, whereas if you foresee yourself doing long treks then the hiking backpack may be a lot better. I love to be prepared for wqkgjq form of spontaneous activity, and so i lean more towards hiking backpacks. Also, hiking backpacks are typically created a bit tougher, so take into account that the more challenging the action, the higher the stress on the bag.
Lightweight or even the kitchen sink: Although I mentioned earlier that size is not the primary determining factor, it’s still essential to consider capacity based upon what you intend to bring. If ultra light can be your goal, avoid high capacity backpacks as you’ll invariably bring a lot of or should you find a way to pack light your backpack won’t distribute the load properly. Conversely, in case your backpack is simply too small, you won’t be able to fit everything in. Know of the gear you’re bringing and select the capacity of your own bag accordingly. Don’t hesitate to create your items to the store to view how it fits in the packs. A professional retailer, like REI, won’t have a problem with this.
What To Look For In A Hiking Backpack – Backpacks vary in functionality around they are doing in appearance, using the more costly models having the most features. Similar to everything, your decision the following is closely associated with what sort of traveling you like to do.
Waterproof – Your pack may not be going to be completely waterproof. Meaning, if submerged, or in a torrential downpour your clothing and equipment will get wet. Although most backpacks now include a rain cover, you 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 not soak through.
Detachable Daypack – this option is actually a personal preference, and never really a deal breaker, as numerous travelers bring yet another pack for day trips. But for those centered on traveling light, carrying two bags can be cumbersome. Personally, i like the choice of a detachable daypack when i have it only once I would like it. In my Osprey, the top lid doubles being a daypack. Much less comfortable as being a dedicated daypack, but it serves its purpose.
Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers – A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Regardless of how good the fabric of the backpack, in the event the attachment points, like zippers, are weak the complete bag is worthless. Ensure that the zippers are tough and lockable where applicable.
Pockets and Compartments – The more compartments the higher. Good backpacks usually have numerous compartments to assist store and separate your gear so that you won’t need to sift through layers of garments just to find your chapstick. For example, maps can go inside the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored conveniently in the side pocket. However you choose to pack, separate pockets allow simple and fast access to your gear. Most backpacks may also have strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, so you can get to your gear without needing to drop your pack.
Lightweight Internal Frame – Backpacks generally include an internal frame, external frame, or no frame whatsoever. I strongly recommend a lightweight internal frame produced from strong carbon fiber rods. This supplies more load support and just looks better. External frames are bulky, conspicuous, and make use of dated technology and frameless backpacks have awful load support at higher weights. Trust me, without the proper weight distribution, you’re shoulders will feel every one of those pounds.
Side Load Access – I’m seeing less and less of this function on the newer backpacks, but should you eventually locate one with side access you’re golden. You’ll be able to access items through the main compartment of the bag without digging in from your top. You’re life will simply be so much simpler.
Suspension System with Padded Shoulders and Load Bearing Straps. Don’t even consider buying 99 cents items wholesale unless it has either a variable or fixed suspension system, plus a lot of load bearing straps. The suspension method is the part that usually rests against your back and where the padded shoulders connect. Fixed system signifies that it fits to 1 torso size, whereas the adjustable system could be calibrated. The whole system is meant to help stabilize load and transfer weight to your hips. The load bearing straps, such as the sternum strap, will also help move the weight around minimizing pain and discomfort.
Ventilation – To minimize the discomfort from an annoying sweaty back, get a backpack with ventilation. Most internal-frame packs may have some kind of ventilation system or design feature that promotes airflow, developing a permanent breathable layer between yourself and the backpack. However, not essential for load support, it certainly increases your comfort level.
Padded Full-size Hip belt – This has become the most important feature of the backpack as your hips will likely be carrying 80% of your own backpacks weight. The padding in the belt can help you avoid fatigue, discomfort, not to mention load distribution. Get one that’s full-size, in which the padding comes around your hip bone for the front, and isn’t only a thin strap with a clip.
Multiple Straps and Tool Attachment Points – This feature is a personal preference and doesn’t really impact comfort and load distribution however i do feel it’s just as important. I like the idea of obtaining excess straps, clips and tool attachment points. You’re capable of perform on-the-fly spot fixes for a number of unexpected circumstances, making your backpack function not only as a bag. You’re capable of tie, hook, and rig a whole mess of things while on the road while not having to carry additional gear. Some backpacks have begun to include “daisy chains” (typically available on climbing packs) that is a combination of tool attachment loops.
Internal Hydration Reservoir – An inside compartment that holds your favorite hydration bladder (i.e. Camelpak, Platypus) which means you have hands free usage of H2O. Openings on the backpack allows you accessibility sip tube making it an extremely practical feature on your long treks. You won’t must dig in your pack or stop your momentum looking for your water bottle.