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 anticipation. Nothing could be more true in terms of buying 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 must not be a rushed decision and factors such as trip length, capacity, material, functionally and comfort should be considered. When I first got interested in 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 employment.
If my three hours was any indication, purchasing a good backpack is not an easy task. With countless backpack manufacturers and styles, it can understandably be overwhelming. Anything you do, don’t go cheap. You’ll do a disservice and end up buying a replacement anyways. An excellent backpack is an investment. You needn’t spend $500 over a backpack, but be skeptical of cheap, no-frills, run of the mill $70 brands, as you’ll regret the design and style flaws and deficiency of extras. Spend a little more for a good backpack from a trusted brand, and it will become your companion for many trips in the future. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me from your U.S towards the Middle East for 10 awesome years and i also realize it has another good 10 years to go.
Travel Backpack or Hiking Backpack – Before you begin shopping for the right pack, it’s essential to be aware of difference between travel backpacks and wholesale backpacks cheap. A travel backpack is actually a backpack-suitcase hybrid with a zippered side panel much like a suitcase. Hiking backpacks are the more commonly seen cylindrical top loading packs with straps, clips and a top lid. Some individuals have an opinion that hiking backpacks are merely designed for the backcountry and contains no spot for the backpacker, I disagree. What really works ultimately boils down to personal preference and elegance of travel. Travel backpacks are great for easy, organized use of gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. In addition they work well in 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 think about 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 lots of load bearing straps to mitigate discomfort. Granted the very best down packing isn’t as convenient to access your gear, but that’s part in parcel to proper weight distribution. A great compromise would be to obtain a hiking backpack with side load access.
I am just generalizing a little since they will have travel backpacks that are within the upper capacity range with additional advanced suspension systems, but when you’re going to get a 70L travel backpack, you might too go with a hiking backpack. Trust me, you’ll be glad you probably did for that unexpected 20 mile trek to another town.
Personal Backpacking Style – Next, determine the style of travel you normally want to do. Unless you’re ready to buy a different backpack for each trip, determining your travel style could 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 instance, should you generally go on week long trips you needn’t obtain a high capacity bag and may probably pull off a 35 liter to 50 liter (L) pack, whereas living long term on the road may need 65L or greater.
Dimensions are pretty subjective though and shouldn’t be the only determining factor. Some people are able to pack very bare bones, where others require a little bit more. Consider these factors:
How long is your trip: Depending on the duration of your trip the ability and overall weight of the pack will be different. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But remember that the larger the pack the heavier it is going to become. 50lbs may not seem a lot at first, but 2 months in and it will feel like a lot of bricks.
Which kind of Activities are you going to do: I personally 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 situation for everybody. Knowing which kind of activity you’ll do will allow you to zero in on that perfect backpack. If you’re not thinking about carrying it around much, think about a travel backpack or even a wheeled backpack, whereas should you foresee yourself doing long treks then this hiking backpack might be more suitable. I really like to be equipped for wqkgjq form of spontaneous activity, so I lean more towards hiking backpacks. Also, hiking backpacks are usually created a bit tougher, so keep in mind that the better challenging the action, the greater 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 on whatever you plan to bring. If ultra light can be your goal, avoid high capacity backpacks as you’ll invariably bring excessive or should you do find a way to pack light your backpack won’t distribute the weight properly. Conversely, in case your backpack is too small, you won’t have the ability to fit everything in. Have an idea from the gear you’re bringing and choose the capacity of your own bag accordingly. Don’t hesitate to take your items to a store to find out how it fits in the packs. A reputable retailer, like REI, won’t have trouble with this.
What To Consider In A Hiking Backpack – Backpacks vary in functionality around they do in looks, with all the higher priced models having the most special features. As with everything, your decision the following is closely linked to what sort of traveling you love to do.
Water Resistant – Your pack may not be going to be completely waterproof. Meaning, if submerged, or in a torrential downpour your clothing and equipment will still get wet. Although most backpacks now include a rain cover, you will still 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 not soak through.
Detachable Daypack – this choice is truly a personal preference, and not really a deal breaker, as numerous travelers bring an additional pack for day trips. But also for those focused on traveling light, carrying two bags can be cumbersome. Personally, i like the choice of a detachable daypack as I get it only when I want it. In my Osprey, the best lid doubles as a daypack. Less comfortable as a dedicated daypack, but it serves its purpose.
Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers – A chain is just as strong as its weakest link. Regardless of how good the content from 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 better. Good backpacks usually have numerous compartments to assist store and separate your gear so you won’t must search through layers of clothes just to find your chapstick. For example, maps can go in the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored conveniently inside the side pocket. However you choose to pack, separate pockets allow easy and quick access for your gear. Most backpacks may also have strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, to get to your gear while not having to drop your pack.
Lightweight Internal Frame – Backpacks generally have an internal frame, external frame, or no frame at all. I strongly suggest a lightweight internal frame produced 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 right weight distribution, you’re shoulders are likely to feel every one of the pounds.
Side Load Access – I’m seeing less of this function on the newer backpacks, but should you eventually find one with side access you’re golden. You’ll be able to access items through the main compartment of the bag without digging in through the top. You’re life will simply be much simpler.
Suspension System with Padded Shoulders and Load Bearing Straps. Don’t even consider buying wholesale novelty items unless it has either an adjustable or fixed suspension system, along with a lot of load bearing straps. The suspension system is the part that typically rests against your back and where padded shoulders connect. Fixed system signifies that it fits to a single torso size, whereas the adjustable system could be calibrated. The whole system is meant to help stabilize load and transfer weight in your hips. The burden bearing straps, just like the sternum strap, may also help move the body weight around minimizing pain and discomfort.
Ventilation – To minimize the discomfort from an annoying sweaty back, get yourself a backpack with ventilation. Most internal-frame packs could have some kind of ventilation system or design feature that promotes airflow, creating a permanent breathable layer between yourself as well as the backpack. However, not essential for load support, it certainly increases your comfort level.
Padded Full-size Hip belt – This is probably the most important feature of any backpack because your hips is going to be carrying 80% of the backpacks weight. The padding in the belt can help you avoid fatigue, discomfort, not to mention load distribution. Make sure you get one that’s full-size, in which the padding comes around your hip bone to the front, and isn’t simply a thin strap having a clip.
Multiple Straps and Tool Attachment Points – This feature is actually a personal preference and doesn’t really impact comfort and load distribution having said that i do feel it’s just like important. I like the thought of having excess straps, clips and tool attachment points. You’re in a position to perform on-the-fly spot fixes for a variety of unexpected circumstances, making your backpack function more than just being a bag. You’re able to tie, hook, and rig a complete mess of things while on the road without needing to carry additional gear. Some backpacks have started to include “daisy chains” (typically available on climbing packs) that is a series of tool attachment loops.
Internal Hydration Reservoir – An internal compartment that holds your favorite hydration bladder (i.e. Camelpak, Platypus) so you have hands free access to H2O. Openings on the backpack allows you accessibility sip tube making it a very practical feature during your long treks. You won’t need to dig in your pack or stop your momentum searching for your water bottle.