How to Buy a Hiking Backpack

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Being lifelong travelers, of course you like our lightweight, multipurpose gear that can withstand the afflication of the road. Gear should be dependable, multifunctional, durable and perform beyond expectations. Nothing could be truer when it comes to buying a good hiking bag, especially considering it’s going Backwoods Backpack 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 manufactured impulsively. Buying your bag should not be a in a hurry decision and factors like trip length, capacity, material, functionally and comfort should always be treated. When i first got fascinated by buying a good pack, I was at REI for a good 3 hours -I think they started to suspect I was applying for a job.

If my three hours was any indication, buying a good bag is not an easy task. With hundreds of bag manufacturers and styles, it can understandably be overwhelming. Whatever you decide to do, don’t go cheap. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice and end up buying a new one well. A good bag is an investment. You needn’t spend $500 on a bag, but keep clear of cheap, no-frills, traditional $70 brands, as you’ll regret the design flaws and absence of extras. Spend a little more for a good bag from a trusted brand, and it will be your companion for many trips to come. The Osprey pack I eventually settled on has traveled with me from the U. S to the Middle East for 10 awesome years and I know it has another good 10 years to go.

Travel Bag or Hiking Bag

Before you begin shopping for the right pack, it’s important to know the difference between travel back packs and hiking back packs. A travel bag is a backpack-suitcase hybrid with a zippered side panel similar to a bag. Hiking back packs are the more commonly seen cylindrical top running delivers with tie, movies and a top top. Some people have an opinion that hiking back packs are only suited for the backcountry and has no place for the backpacker, I disagree. What works for you ultimately comes down to personal preference and style of travel. Travel back packs are an excellent option for easy, organized access to gear and transporting from hostel to hostel. They also function well for short walks or even as a daypack.

On the other hand, if you possibly have camping or long treks in your travel plans, you may want to look at a hiking bag. Hiking back packs were created for comfort, proper weight distribution, and toughness. Unlike a travel bag, hiking back packs will have enhancements like full-sized trendy belts, shoulder and back suspension systems along with plenty of load keeping tie to mitigate discomfort. Granted the top down taking isn’t as convenient to access your gear, but that’s part in parcel to proper weight distribution. A good compromise would be to get a hiking bag with side load access.

I am generalizing a bit as they do have travel back packs that are in the high capacity range to comprehend advanced suspension systems, but if you can obtain a 70L travel bag, you may as well go with a hiking bag. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did for that unexpected 20 distance trek to the next town.

Personal Treking Style

Next, determine the style of travel you normally like to do. Unless you’re ready buy a different bag for each trip, figuring out your travel style will save you a lot of money in the long run and give you a joint of foundation gear that’s ready for any trip. For instance, if you generally go on week long trips you needn’t get a high capacity bag and may even probably get away with a 35 liter to 50 liter (L) pack, whereas living long-term on the road might need 65L or greater.

Size is pretty summary though and must not be the only determining factor. Some people are able to pack very bare our bones, where others require a bit more. Consider these factors:

How long is your trip:

Depending on the amount of your trip the capacity and overall weight of your pack will vary. Short trips require less capacity, and long trips typically require more. But know that the bigger the pack the heavier it will become. 50lbs may not seem a lot at first, but 2 months in and it will feel like a ton of bricks.

What type of Activities will you do:

Exercise believe that one bag can rule them all since i generally use my pack for everything. However, this may not be the case for everyone. Knowing what type of activity you’ll be doing will help you zero in on that perfect bag. If you’re not thinking of carrying it around much, look at a travel bag or even a wheeled bag, whereas if you foresee yourself doing long treks then the hiking bag may be considerably better. I enjoy be prepared for any good spontaneous activity, so i lean more towards hiking back packs. Also, hiking back packs are generally made a bit tougher, so keep in mind that the more challenging the experience, the greater the worries on the bag.

Lightweight or the kitchen sink:

Although I mentioned earlier that size is not the main determining factor, it’s still important to consider capacity based on what you decide to bring. If ultra light is your goal, avoid high capacity back packs as you’ll invariably bring too much or if you do manage to pack light your bag won’t distribute the weight properly. Alternatively, if your bag is too small, you won’t be able to fit everything in. Have an idea of kit you’re bringing and pick the capacity of your bag accordingly. Don’t hesitate to bring your items to the store to see how it fits in the delivers. An experienced retailer, like REI, won’t have a problem with this.

What To look for In a Hiking Bag

Back packs vary in functionality as much as they do in features, with the more expensive models having the most stuff. As with everything, your decision here is closely related to what type of traveling you like to do.


Your pack is typically not going to be completely waterproof. Meaning, if submerged, or in a torrential downpour your clothing and equipment will still get wet. Although most back packs now come with a rain cover, you still want it to be made of a hardcore, grab proof, and lightweight plastic lined nylon or Cordura type material allowing rain or water to bead off and not soak through.

Easily removed Daypack

this option is really a personal preference, and just not a deal breaker, as many travelers bring an additional pack for day trips. But for those focused on traveling light, carrying two bags can be cumbersome. Exercise like the option of a easily removed daypack as i own it only when I need it. On my Osprey, the top top doubles as a daypack. Not only comfortable as a dedicated daypack, but it serves its purpose.

Heavy-duty Lockable Zippers

A stringed is only as strong as its the most fragile link. No matter how good the material of the bag, if the add-on points, like zippers, are weak the whole bag is worthless. Make sure the zippers are tough and lockable where applicable.

Pockets and Spaces

The more spaces the better. Good back packs usually have a number of spaces to help store and separate your gear so you won’t have to search through layers of clothes just to find your chapstick. For instance, maps can go in the top flap, while your flip-flops are stored ideally in the side pocket. However you pack, separate pockets allow easy and quick access to your gear. Most back packs will also have strategically placed pockets, like on the hipbelt, so you can get to your gear while not having to drop your pack.

Lightweight Internal Frame

Back packs generally have an internal frame, external frame, or no frame at all. I strongly recommend a lightweight internal frame made from strong carbon dioxide fiber fishing rods. This provides more load support and just looks better. External frames are heavy, obvious, and use old technology and frameless back packs have awful load support at higher weights. Trust me, without proper weight distribution, you’re neck are going to feel every single one of those pounds.

Side Load Access

I’m seeing less and less of this function on the newer back packs, but if you do happen to find one with side access you’re golden. You’ll be able to access items from the main pocket of the bag without digging in from the top. You’re life will be a whole lot simpler.

Suspension System with Padded Neck and Load Keeping Tie

Don’t even consider buying a bag unless it has either an adjustable or fixed suspension system, along with a bunch of load keeping tie. The suspension system is the part that usually is located against your back and where the padded neck connect. Fixed system means that it fits to at least one torso size, whereas the adjustable system can be calibrated. The whole system has been said to help support load and transfer weight to your body. The burden keeping tie, like the sternum bracelet, will also help move the weight around lessening pain and discomfort.


To attenuate the discomfort from an annoying tired back, get a bag with venting. Most internal-frame delivers will have some sort of venting system or design feature that promotes airflow, creating a permanent breathable layer between yourself and the bag. Although not needed for load support, it certainly increases your comfort and ease.

Padded Full-size Trendy belt

This is just about the most important feature of any bag since your body will be carrying 80% of your back packs weight. The padding in the belt will help you avoid fatigue, discomfort, and of course load distribution. Make sure you get one that’s full-size, where the padding comes around your trendy bone to the front, and is not merely a thin bracelet with a clip.

Multiple Tie and Tool Add-on Points

This feature is a personal preference and doesn’t really impact comfort and load distribution but I feel it’s just as important. I like the idea of having excess tie, movies and tool add-on points. You’re able to perform on-the-fly spot steps for a variety of unexpected circumstances, making your bag function more than just as a bag. You’re able to tie, hook, and rig a whole mess of things while on the road while not having to carry additional gear. Some back packs have commenced to include “daisy chains” (typically entirely on climbing packs) which is a series of tool add-on loops.

Internal Hydration Water tank

An internal pocket that holds your favorite hydration bladder (i. e. Camelpak, Platypus) so you have automatically access to MINERAL WATER. Openings on the bag enables you access to the glass tube making it a very practical feature during your long treks. You won’t have to dig into your pack or stop your momentum looking for your water bottle.

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