Being lifelong travelers, all of us love our lightweight, multipurpose gear that may withstand the rigors of the road. Gear needs to be dependable, multifunctional, durable and perform beyond anticipation. Nothing could be more true with regards to purchasing 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 thus this decision should not be made impulsively. Buying your backpack really should not be a rushed decision and factors such as trip length, capacity, material, functionally and luxury should be considered. When I first got serious about investing in a good pack, I was at REI for a good three hours -I think they started to suspect I was trying to get employment.
If my three hours was any indication, buying a good backpack is not always easy. With countless backpack manufacturers and styles, it could understandably be overwhelming. Whatever you decide to do, don’t go cheap. You’ll be doing your disservice and end up buying a new one anyways. A great backpack is an investment. You needn’t spend $500 on a backpack, but be wary of cheap, no-frills, ordinary $70 brands, as you’ll regret the design and style flaws and deficiency of extras. Spend a little more for a good backpack from the trusted brand, and will also become the perfect companion for many trips in the future. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me through the U.S towards the Middle East for 10 awesome years and i also realize it has another good a decade to travel.
Travel Backpack or Hiking Backpack – Before you begin shopping for the ideal pack, it’s important to understand the distinction between travel backpacks and buy backpacks in bulk. A travel backpack is a backpack-suitcase hybrid using a zippered side panel much like a suitcase. Hiking backpacks are the more commonly seen cylindrical top loading packs with straps, clips as well as a top lid. Some people come with an opinion that hiking backpacks are only suited for the backcountry and has no location for the backpacker, I disagree. What works for you ultimately is dependant on personal preference and design of travel. Travel backpacks are perfect for easy, organized use of gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. In addition they function well for short walks or even as being a daypack.
On the contrary, in the event you possibly have camping or long treks within your travel plans, you may want to think about a hiking backpack. Hiking backpacks are designed for comfort, proper weight distribution, and toughness. Unlike a travel backpack, hiking backpacks may 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 little since they have travel backpacks which can be in the upper capacity range with increased advanced suspension systems, however, if you’re going to get a 70L travel backpack, you may as well go with a hiking backpack. Believe me, you’ll be very glad you probably did for your unexpected 20 mile trek to the next town.
Personal Backpacking Style – Next, determine the style of travel you normally want to do. Unless you’re prepared to get a different backpack for each and every trip, finding out your travel style will save you a lot of money in the long run and give you a bit of foundation gear that’s ready for any trip. As an example, if you generally go on week long trips you needn’t obtain a high capacity bag and could probably pull off a 35 liter to 50 liter (L) pack, whereas living long-term on the road may require 65L or greater.
Size is pretty subjective though and shouldn’t function as the only determining factor. Many people are able to pack very bare bones, where others require a little bit more. Think about these factors:
How much time is the trip: Depending on the duration of your vacation the capability and overall weight of your own pack will vary. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But bear in mind that the larger the pack the heavier it is going to become. 50lbs may well not seem a whole lot initially, but 2 months in and it will feel like a lot of bricks.
What Type of Activities do you want to do: Personally, i feel that one bag can rule all of them since I generally use my pack for everything. However, this will not be the situation for everybody. Knowing what sort of activity you’ll be doing will help you zero in on that perfect backpack. If you’re not planning on 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 might be a lot better. I love to be ready for wqkgjq form of spontaneous activity, and so i lean more towards hiking backpacks. Also, hiking backpacks are typically produced a bit tougher, so take into account that the better challenging the action, the higher the stress on the bag.
Lightweight or perhaps the kitchen sink: Although I mentioned earlier that size is not the main determining factor, it’s still vital that you consider capacity based on everything you plan to bring. If ultra light is your goal, avoid high capacity backpacks as you’ll invariably bring too much or should you do find a way to pack light your backpack won’t distribute the weight properly. Conversely, should your backpack is simply 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 the bag accordingly. Don’t hesitate to bring your items to the store to see how it suits the packs. A professional retailer, like REI, won’t have a problem with this particular.
What To Look For In A Hiking Backpack – Backpacks vary in functionality as much as they are doing in appearance, with the more costly models getting the most special features. Similar to everything, your choice is closely associated with what type 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 still get wet. Although most backpacks now come with a rain cover, you continue to would like it to be produced of a tough, rip proof, and lightweight silicone coated nylon or Cordura type material which allows rain or water to bead off and not soak through.
Detachable Daypack – this choice is truly a personal preference, and never a real deal breaker, as much travelers bring an additional pack for day trips. But also for those focused on traveling light, carrying two bags could be cumbersome. I personally like the choice of a detachable daypack because i already have it only if I need it. On my own Osprey, the top lid doubles being a daypack. Less comfortable being a dedicated daypack, however it serves its purpose.
Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers – A chain is simply as strong as its weakest link. Regardless of how good the content in the backpack, if 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 better compartments the higher. Good backpacks normally have several compartments to aid store and separate your gear so you won’t have to search through layers of garments just to find your chapstick. For instance, maps will go inside the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored conveniently inside the side pocket. However you want to pack, separate pockets allow simple and quick access for your gear. Most backpacks can also get strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, to get to your gear without having to drop your pack.
Lightweight Internal Frame – Backpacks generally come with an internal frame, external frame, or no frame at all. I strongly suggest a light-weight internal frame made from strong carbon fiber rods. This supplies more load support and simply 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 single one of these pounds.
Side Load Access – I’m seeing less of this function on the newer backpacks, but if you do occur to locate one with side access you’re golden. You’ll have the ability to access items from your main compartment of the bag without digging in from the top. You’re life will just be so much simpler.
Suspension System with Padded Shoulders and Load Bearing Straps. Don’t even consider buying imports store unless it offers either a flexible or fixed suspension system, plus a bunch of load bearing straps. The suspension product is the part that generally rests against your back and where the padded shoulders connect. Fixed system implies that it fits to a single torso size, whereas the adjustable system may be calibrated. The entire system is supposed to help stabilize load and transfer weight for your hips. The load bearing straps, like the sternum strap, will also help move the body weight around minimizing discomfort and pain.
Ventilation – To minimize the discomfort from an annoying sweaty back, get a backpack with ventilation. Most internal-frame packs will have some kind of ventilation system or design feature that promotes airflow, making a permanent breathable layer between yourself and also the backpack. However, not important for load support, it certainly increases your comfort level.
Padded Full-size Hip belt – This has become the most important feature for any backpack as your hips will likely be carrying 80% of the backpacks weight. The padding in the belt will 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 towards the front, and isn’t only a thin strap having 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 getting excess straps, clips and tool attachment points. You’re in a position 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 capable of tie, hook, and rig an entire mess of things while on the road without having to carry additional gear. Some backpacks have begun 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 chosen hydration bladder (i.e. Camelpak, Platypus) so you have hands free use of H2O. Openings on the backpack enables you accessibility sip tube which makes it an extremely practical feature during your long treks. You won’t need to dig in your pack or stop your momentum searching for your water bottle.