Being lifelong travelers, we all love our lightweight, multipurpose gear that may withstand the rigors of the road. Gear should be dependable, multifunctional, durable and perform beyond expectations. Nothing could be truer in terms of investing in a good hiking backpack, especially considering it’s going 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 really should not be a rushed decision and factors such as trip length, capacity, material, functionally and comfort 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 do believe they started to suspect I was applying for a job.
If my three hours was any indication, purchasing a good backpack is not a simple task. With numerous backpack manufacturers and designs, it can understandably be overwhelming. Anything you do, don’t go cheap. You’ll do yourself a disservice and end up buying a completely new one anyways. A great backpack is surely an investment. You needn’t spend $500 over a backpack, but be wary of cheap, no-frills, run of the mill $70 brands, as you’ll regret the design flaws and absence of extras. Spend a bit more for a good backpack from a trusted brand, and this will be your companion for most trips in the future. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me from your U.S to the Middle East for 10 awesome years and that i know it has another good 10 years to travel.
Travel Backpack or Hiking Backpack – Before you begin shopping for the ideal pack, it’s vital that you know the distinction between travel backpacks and hiking backpacks. A travel backpack is a backpack-suitcase hybrid using a zippered side panel similar to a suitcase. Hiking backpacks would be the commonly seen cylindrical top loading packs with straps, clips as well as a top lid. Some individuals have an opinion that hiking backpacks are merely best for the backcountry and it has no place for the backpacker, I disagree. What works for you ultimately is dependant on personal preference and style of travel. Travel backpacks are perfect for easy, organized usage of gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. They also function well for short walks or even as a daypack.
On the other hand, in the event you possibly have camping or long treks in your travel plans, you might want to look at a hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks are designed for comfort, proper weight distribution, and toughness. Unlike a travel backpack, hiking backpacks will 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 easy to access your gear, but that’s part in parcel to proper weight distribution. An excellent compromise will be to get yourself a hiking backpack with side load access.
I am generalizing a bit as they have travel backpacks which can be inside the upper capacity range with increased advanced suspension systems, but if you’re going to get a 70L travel backpack, you may as well go with a hiking backpack. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did for that unexpected 20 mile trek to the next town.
Personal Backpacking Style – Next, determine the design of travel you normally love to do. Unless you’re ready to get a different backpack for each trip, finding out your travel style will save you a lot of money in the end and give you a bit of foundation gear that’s ready for just about any trip. For example, in the event you generally carry on week long trips you needn’t obtain a high capacity bag and can 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. Many people are able to pack very bare bones, where others require a little more. Think about these factors:
How long can be your trip: Depending on the duration of your vacation the capacity and overall weight of your pack will vary. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But be aware that the bigger the pack the heavier it can become. 50lbs may not seem a lot in the beginning, but 2 months in and this will feel like a ton of bricks.
Which kind of Activities are you going to do: Personally, i 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 everyone. Knowing which kind of activity you’ll be doing will help you zero in on that perfect backpack. If you’re not considering carrying it around much, think about a travel backpack or even a wheeled backpack, whereas if you foresee yourself doing long treks then the hiking backpack might be more desirable. I love to be ready for any sort of spontaneous activity, so I lean more towards hiking backpacks. Also, hiking backpacks are typically made a bit tougher, so keep in mind that the better challenging the action, the higher the stress on the bag.
Lightweight or the kitchen sink: Although I mentioned earlier that size is not the main determining factor, it’s still essential to consider capacity based upon everything you want to bring. If ultra light is your goal, avoid high capacity backpacks as you’ll invariably bring too much or if you do find a way to pack light your backpack won’t distribute the load properly. Conversely, in case your backpack is just too small, you won’t have the ability to fit all things in. Know from the gear you’re bringing and select the capacity of your bag accordingly. Don’t hesitate to bring your items to a store to view the way it suits the packs. A reputable retailer, like REI, won’t have trouble using this.
What To Consider In A Hiking Backpack – Backpacks vary in functionality just as much as they actually do in looks, using the more expensive models obtaining the most bells and whistles. Similar to everything, your final decision the following is closely related to which kind of traveling you want to do.
Water-resistant – Your pack is probably not likely to be completely waterproof. Meaning, if submerged, or in a torrential downpour your clothing and equipment will get wet. Although most backpacks now have a rain cover, you continue to want it to be made of any tough, rip proof, and lightweight silicone coated nylon or Cordura type material that allows rain or water to bead off and never soak through.
Detachable Daypack – this alternative is truly a personal preference, and not really a deal breaker, as much travelers bring an additional pack for day trips. However for those dedicated to traveling light, carrying two bags may be cumbersome. I personally like the option of a detachable daypack because i get it only when I would like it. In my Osprey, the very best lid doubles as a daypack. Much less comfortable as a dedicated daypack, but it serves its purpose.
Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers – A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. No matter how good the material in the backpack, if the attachment points, like zippers, are weak the complete bag is worthless. Make sure the zippers are tough and lockable where applicable.
Pockets and Compartments – The greater compartments the higher. Good backpacks will often have a number of compartments to aid store and separate your gear so you won’t need to search through layers of garments simply to find your chapstick. As an example, maps can go inside the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored conveniently inside the side pocket. However you choose to pack, separate pockets allow simple and easy , quick access to your gear. Most backpacks will also have strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, to get in your gear without needing to drop your pack.
Lightweight Internal Frame – Backpacks generally have an internal frame, external frame, or no frame at all. I strongly recommend a lightweight internal frame created from strong carbon fiber rods. This gives more load support and just looks better. External frames are bulky, conspicuous, and use dated technology and frameless backpacks have awful load support at higher weights. Believe me, without the proper weight distribution, you’re shoulders will feel every single one of the pounds.
Side Load Access – I’m seeing less and less with this function on the newer backpacks, but should you do eventually find one with side access you’re golden. You’ll have the capacity to access items through the main compartment of the bag without digging in from your top. You’re life will just be so much simpler.
Suspension System with Padded Shoulders and Load Bearing Straps. Don’t even consider investing in a backpack unless it offers either an adjustable or fixed suspension system, plus a number of load bearing straps. The suspension method is the part that generally rests against your back and in which the padded shoulders connect. Fixed system signifies that it fits to 1 torso size, whereas the adjustable system may be calibrated. The entire system is supposed to help stabilize load and transfer weight in your hips. The burden bearing straps, such as the sternum strap, will even help move the load around minimizing discomfort and pain.
Ventilation – To lower the discomfort from an annoying sweaty back, obtain a backpack with ventilation. Most internal-frame packs may have some type of ventilation system or design feature that promotes airflow, kczxfp a permanent breathable layer between yourself and also the backpack. However, not essential 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 as your hips will be carrying 80% of your backpacks weight. The padding inside the belt will allow you to avoid fatigue, discomfort, not to mention load distribution. Make sure you get one that’s full-size, where the padding comes around your hip bone to the front, and isn’t simply a thin strap using a clip.
Multiple Straps and Tool Attachment Points – This feature is a personal preference and doesn’t really impact comfort and load distribution but I do feel it’s equally as important. I like the thought of obtaining excess straps, clips and tool attachment points. You’re able to perform on-the-fly spot fixes for many different unexpected circumstances, making your backpack function more than just as being a bag. You’re in a position to tie, hook, and rig a complete mess of things while on the road without having to carry additional gear. Some backpacks have begun to include “daisy chains” (typically found on climbing packs) which is a series of tool attachment loops.
Internal Hydration Reservoir – An inside compartment that holds your chosen hydration bladder (i.e. Camelpak, Platypus) so that you have hands free access to H2O. Openings on the backpack enables you access to the sip tube making it a really practical feature throughout your long treks. You won’t have to dig to your pack or stop your momentum looking for your water bottle.