If you’ve recently discovered a passion for hiking, you’re probably thinking about investing in a high-quality backpack. After all, it’s an essential part of the hiker’s tool kit. Whether out for a long day hike or tackling difficult terrain, you’ll need an outdoor sports backpack that fits your body type and makes carrying heavy loads efficient and comfortable.
However, selecting the right backpack isn’t that simple, especially for first-time buyers. Many products on the market these days are quite technical, and the many features available can make your head spin. Then there’s the matter of knowing what questions to ask. Here’s what you’ll need to consider to pick the best design for you so you can hit the trail with confidence.
How Will You Use Your Backpack?
Take some time before shopping for back packs to consider the types of adventures you’ll use yours for. You must decide on the type of hiking you will do and the length of your journeys so you can decide on the best size. If you’re hiking up a mountain for 6 hours to get to your destination, you’ll want as little weight on your back as possible. The appropriate size can range between 30 and 80 litres depending on your equipment and the number of days of your adventure:
For weekend trips, a backpack of 30 to 50 litres will allow you to bring everything you need comfortably.
For multi-day hikes, a backpack of 50 to 80 litres will allow you to carry more clothes and more food.
70 litres or more backpacks will get you through most long-distance trips. However, keep in mind that, while bigger is often better, the extra weight on your back will slow you down. An ultralight approach is an alternative. This entails carrying a smaller, lighter pack, allowing you to cover more ground in less time.
Which Backpack Features Do You Really Need?
Outdoor sports back pack features are frequently the deciding factor in a purchase. Some features are required for specific trips and improve the overall experience. Integrated rain covers, for example, are ideal for travel in wetter climates. Hydration-compatible backpacks eliminate the need for multiple water breaks and are suitable for all types of travel, particularly in hot, dry climates.
The following are the hiking backpack features to look for. Not all of them are appropriate for everyone, but features like removable day packs and sleeping bag compartments can be beneficial.
Hiking back packs come with different frame types, each with its pros and cons. The vast majority of the models have an internal frame.
- Frameless – If you want something very light, a backpack with a removable frame or no frame at all is the way to go.
- External Frame – An external framed backpack is intended for hikers who will be carrying heavy or unusual loads. Although they provide adequate ventilation, these packs are less common unless you are transporting unusually sized gear and equipment, such as inflatable boats.
- Internal Frame – The most common type of backpack is one with an internal frame. These backpacks are made to fit the shape of the hiker’s body and distribute the load’s weight. Ideally, most of the weight of the backpack should be carried on your hips rather than your shoulders. Certain backpacks employ technologies to ensure that the weight of the load is transferred to your hips.
A sweaty back is unavoidable when wearing an internal framed hiking backpack; it’s just part of the journey. Although it cannot be completely avoided, a competent ventilation system can help to reduce sweaty back. The majority of backpacks will have their own ventilation system built into the back panel. Some hiking backpacks have a breathable mesh that sits next to your back, allowing the backpack to be a few inches away from you. A tension-mesh suspension allows air to flow and improves back ventilation.
Padding is important when carrying a backpack for an extended period of time, so look for adequate padding. A padded hip belt is essential because the majority of the pack load will rest on your hips. Put on the backpack and pay close attention to any areas of discomfort or rubbing. Padded shoulder straps are also recommended. After a long day, a heavy load with minimally padded shoulder straps may result in sore back or shoulder joints.
Whether you’re hiking in the summer, fall, or winter, staying hydrated is critical. Hydration-compatible backpacks allow you to stay hydrated efficiently and conveniently, eliminating the need for water-drinking breaks.
Compartment for Sleeping Bags
Sleeping bag compartments are becoming increasingly common in backpacks. This is usually found at the bottom of the backpack and is a separate pocket designed specifically for your sleeping bag. In general, this pocket is created to function similarly to a stuff sack, allowing you to store your sleeping bag without the compression sack or stuff sack.
Integrated Rain Cover
This feature can be especially useful when travelling in wet or inclement weather. Some backpacks include an integrated rain cover with its own stash pocket inside the backpack. These are great because there is one less thing to pack. Sometimes, the integrated rain covers are permanently attached to the backpack, so you don’t have to worry about them slowly slipping or sliding up and exposing your backpack to the elements.