Are you preparing for your next trip and wondering which backpack to choose? Is the large variety of backpacks and options are making you feel overwhelmed? No worries, this article has all the deets to help you choose the best pack for your next adventure!
There are three critical areas to think about when choosing the right bag for you; fit, attachments, and capacity.
Fit: Make sure your torso has an appropriate fit concerning its measurements.
Attachments: Your pack should have additional features that would allow you to carry and adjust throughout your trek.
Capacity: Check how much capacity considering your trip’s length and equipment you would take along needs.
Different Types of Backpacks
Day Pack: Less than 30 Liters
These packs are the best fit if you plan to go for a short day hike or a quick one nighter. The day pack allows you to carry just enough food and gear required for spending one night out in the elements. However, you should check your daypack should have gears, including a tent, sleeping bag, or in short, a sleeping setup coupled with an additional layer for warmth. However, if your plan were not to stay for a night, then a daypack without a tent would also work for you.
Weekender: 1-3 nights; 30-50 liters
In any backpack lineup, a solid weekender is the workhorse. 40L is the standard bag size in this category and provides room for extra layers, small tents, sleeping pads, and a sleeping bag. This level of pack also provides space for the cookware, stove, water, food, first-aid, and navigation tools you will need for a multiple night trip. Pro-level packers can fit lanterns, small chairs, and supplies for making coffee.
Multi-day Pack: 3-5 nights; 50-80 liters
Multi-day packs are a time honored and popular option. They are best-suited for warm-weather trips lasting 3 to 5 nights. This class of bag allows you to carry extra equipment making them perfect for a longer expedition.
These packs have the versatility that allows you to carry additional food, fuel, and gear required for longer treks, or multi-sport adventures. When choosing a bag of this size it is suggested to find one that has loops for gear attachments and a strong suspension.
Expedition Pack: 5+ nights; 70 liters or larger
Looking for an expedition pack? Welcome to the Big Leagues! Expedition packs are recommended for long mountaineering trips or cold-weather because the greater capacity allows for the additional equipment that is needed to tackle ice and snow conditions.
When looking for a pack of this size be sure to find a sturdy pack that fits appropriately. At this size, you will be carrying a significant amount of weight and to avoid injury a properly fitted backpack is essential.
An expedition pack is a great choice for parents traveling with small children. The large size allows a parent to carry equipment for their child.
Features of Backpacks
It is important to pick a pack that meets your needs and budget. The more features your backpack includes the higher cost. The information below will help you decide what features you need, and the ones you can live without. Have no fear there are amazing bags for every budget.
External-frame backpacks: External-frame packs are the OG of backpacking. This style of pack was probably used by your grandfather and still provide plenty of positives. For example, external frames provide better durability, greater ventilation, provide for more external attachments, and is a solid choice for trail walking. If you have some heavy load or awkward load (ie. kayak, or a lot of climbing equipment) then an external pack is the best option.
Internal-frame backpacks: Internal-frame backpacks offer the latest in technological design in the world of backpacking, and the most popular bags on the market. These exceptional bags are designed to shift weight from your back to hips to ease pressure on the body, sit flush on your back to provide for better balance, and the packs weight moves very little making them ideal for scrambling or on difficult terrain.
In warm weather, ventilation is imperative. Internal-frames, mesh materials, and foam padding develop a space for airflow between your body and back panel.
Top-load openings are regarded as the standard of the industry. You can keep your essentials required for the trail at the top, whereas camp and sleep accessories at the bottom.
Panel access: By using these packs, you can occupy the pack's interior since they have a front panel zipper.
Elasticized side pockets: They are ideal for keeping water bottles and taking out snacks and electrolytes quickly.
Hipbelt pockets: These pockets are perfect for belts. You can keep your essentials like snacks, phone, and energy packet so that you can access them easily and quickly.
Front pocket(s): To hold less bulky and smaller items, front pockets are added.
Sleeping Bag Compartment
Additional space is made at the lower part of the bag to keep your essentials close at hand.
If you are inclined to keep some extra gear and tools and gear, then such loops would be used at the pack exterior. Mostly, two loops are present on packs.
If you plan on traveling in places with consistent rainfall, or find that rain is in your forecast, then it is important to bring items that can keep your gear dry. Many backpacks provide waterproof materials, but small holes near the zippers, or around the pockets can lead to leaks. Having a rain cover for your pack is essential in wet situations.
A second option is to carry a “dry” sack. Drysacks are becoming more common and come in a variety of options. Many drysacks can be folded and kept inside your bag until they are needed as a second layer of protection, but it is becoming more popular to see drysacks as an all-in-one backpack. This type of bag is great option for boating, rafting, canoeing and ever day trips to the beach where getting wet has a high probability.
Most all modern packs provide a sleeve or pocket for a hydration bladder or water reservoir. In our opinion, a hydro pack is essential gear when hiking. These reservoirs allow you to carry additional water, and keep the weight tight to your body reducing the stress of carrying several liters.
Compatible packs usually have a separate sleeve for the reservoir, a hole for the straw to exit from the bag, and a hook that keeps it upright in the bag and for drying. In warm weather, hydration packs are perfect and have no drawbacks; however, in the cold the straws tend freeze if left to the elements. Pro-tip, try tucking the end of the straw inside your base layer using your body heat to keep the water flowing.
Once you have chosen the perfect pack options, now you need to get the perfect fit.
When fitting a bag the length of your toros size is more important than your height or waist measurements.
You want a comfortable and snug fit on your hips. Your hips should carry the majority of the weight. Injuries and fatigue are more likely to occur when weight is carried on the back.
Get a tape measure and partner for accurate measurement of your torso length.
Tuck your chin to your chest and feel for the spinal bone at the meeting point of your neck and shoulders. This is the top point for measurement.
Then put your hands on your sides just below your ribcage and move them downward to until you find the top of your hipbone (your thumbs should be pointing towards each other on your back).
Now find the middle point between your thumbs, this should be near your spine, and that is the second point of your measurement.
Finally, stand up and look forward and have your partner measure between the top point and the imaginary center point between your thumbs. The length between the two points is your torso length.
Now you can check the product for size details.
Your hips should support the majority of the backpacks weight. Backpack hip belts are made to fit a large variety of waist sizes, and some packs also provide interchangeable hip belts, making it possible to buy adjustable sizes separately.
Women & Youth Specific Backpacks
Packs designed specifically for women are available and offer a more narrow frame than the standard sizes, and adjustable hip belts that are better suited for the female body. These packs can also be a good choice for children because of the narrow design.
Load Lifter Straps
Load lifters are placed on top of the shoulder straps to keep the top of the pack from pulling away from your body, causing stress on your lower back. On a properly fitting bag these straps should form a 45° angle between your shoulder straps and the pack.
A mid-chest sternum strap is essential during a scrambles and on uneven terrain. To maintain stability, these straps hold the pack tight to your chest and close to the body. A tight strap keeps the bag weight from moving during a quick shift in direction or awkward position.
There are a huge variety of backpacks on the market, but if you think about the types of adventures you enjoy and the length of your trip you can find the perfect backpack for your budget. Visit NoTraceOutdoorGear.com for a great selection of packs and as always we will see you out there!