The most important piece to a successful backpacking trip is your back. Whether planning a short trip or wanting to hit the trails for months, knowing which features you need in a backpack can help save time, money, and effort.
Back and shoulder support
The first and perhaps most important thing you must ensure is that your backpack has proper back and shoulder support. You’ll be wearing the weight of your essentials on your shoulders for hours, and a well-fitting pack will keep your back happy and reduce unnecessary fatigue.
You should measure your torso length and the circumference of your hips to find packs that suit your body. Try to choose options with extra straps, as many survival backpacks have waist or sternum straps to help distribute the weight evenly.
Appropriate for the situation
Generally, the best backpack sizes for different-length trips are:
- 30-50 liters for 1-3 nights
- 50-80 liters for 3-5 nights
- 70+ liters for 5+ nights
The conditions of your hike may also impact how much capacity you need. For instance, cold climates may require packing extra layers of clothing, even for a short visit.
Today, backpacks have multiple unique features that can seem overwhelming. Packs with rain covers can protect your gear in a wet climate but won’t be necessary for arid regions. You can also find special features for helping with weight distribution and sweat.
Backpacking bags typically have three frame options: internal, external, and frameless.
An internal-frame pack, with a structure inside, is designed to help keep you stable on rough terrain. External frames have an outer structure typically made of aluminium that helps with heavy loads. Frameless backpacks are lightweight and help you move faster.
Capacity for the essentials
Get a pack that has enough room for the trail essentials. Finding the smallest bag won’t be worth it if you endanger yourself by forfeiting some survival necessities.
No matter how long you plan to be out, you should always carry items for light, navigation, first-aid, starting fires, emergency shelters, insulation, sun protection, hydration, and nutrition.
You should also find a bag that can give you easy access to your essential items. Bags with external pockets or storage near your hips are great for keeping snacks and emergency supplies nearby.
Wearing a backpack on a long hike can result in a sweaty back, but if you get a pack with a suspended mesh back panel or ventilation channels, you can help ventilate your backpack and reduce sweat.
Extra water storage
Having plenty of water on your trip is critical. Try to find packs with extra water storage solutions to help you carry as much water as possible. Also, double-check that you pack for hikes with pets by bringing extra water.
Spend time researching your backpack brand and finding a high-quality pack worth the cost. The cheapest options may break apart after heavy use, so you should get an economical choice that will also last.
Some people choose walking with everyday backpacks as a method of sustainable living, and part of that endeavour is finding an option that will last years. You can also help your backpack last longer by cleaning it and trying not to overload it when possible.
An essential part of a backpacking trip is having the right supplies. Make sure that you pick a backpack that’s well-suited to your activities, fits your body, can handle the necessities, and will survive more than a handful of trips. You’ll be thankful that you did.