Backpack Buying Guide
by: Craig Delger
A well-designed backpack that fits you, has the proper capacity, and has
the features that are appropriate for the specific task
will help you maximize your enjoyment and hiking comfort.
We suggest you read our articles on Backpack Sizing, Backpack
Types, and Backpack Anatomy & Features before continuing to
read this Backpack Buyers Guide.
Once you have read these related articles, you will know how to get a
proper fit for your backpack, how backpacks differ from each
other, and what features backpacks have.
Most Popular Backpacks & Daypacks
Here are our guidelines in
Buying a Backpack:
* Buy your pack last: The most common
mistake people make is purchasing a pack before they purchase the rest
of their gear. We suggest you purchase a pack after you purchase your
other items so that you know how much weight you need to carry, and the
volume of pack you need(capacity). Overloading a small backpack by
connecting equipment at the outside of the pack is a bad solution as it
disturbs the center of mass and the load distribution. You should
determine your needed volume for internal storage inside the backpack.
* Match the pack to the task: There is
not a perfect backpack for all activities. If you are serious about
Hiking or other Outdoor Activities then you will probably end up buying
multiple backpacks, each targetted at a specific activity and trip
durations. If you plan to take specialized equipment like Snowshoes,
Ice Axes, Crampons, Climbing Ropes, or other larger equipment then you
might want to look for backpacks that have special pocket, straps, and
cords configuration which will allow you to easily attach these pieces
of equipment to the outside of your pack. There are even special
backpacks that are designed to carry a snowboard, skis, or other bulky
* Load Distribution - The general rule
is that the heavier the load you will have to carry, the more technical
features your backpack should have. Take a good look at our list of the
different backpack features. For heavier loads, you will definitely
need a hip belt and the combined workings and adjustability of the
shoulder harness, sternum strap, and the stabilizer straps.
* Hydration System - Decide if you need
your backpack to facilitate a hydration system or if you are just going
to use bottles and other liquid containers. Keep in mind that drinking
tubes and bladders can freeze up in extreme cold conditions.
* Waterproofness - It is best to prepare
for the worst possible weather and moist conditions. Especially for
activities like Canyoneering and Coasteering, you will want a
waterproof backpack. Look for a backpack that comes with a splash cover
or that has a separate fitting splash cover.
* Fit - It might seem strange to fit a
backpack but it is definitely something that is very important. Most
backpacks have adjustable hip belts, shoulder harness, and stabilizer
straps but even then, the basic shape of the hip belt and shoulder
harness could not be compatible with your body. In particular, women
might want to look for backpacks that are developed for the female body.
* Durability: Some lightweight packs
saccrifice durability to achieve light weight.
This is our Backpack Buyers Guide. Know the different factors to
consider when buying Hiking Backpacks and choose the one which meets
Next Page: Backpack Sizing