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Top Things To Look For When Buying a Hiking Backpack

Written by Fiona

May 16 2018

The right backpack can make the difference between a great adventure and a trip filled with irritation and sores. Take a look at for a list of recommended hiking backpacks for different expeditions.

The basic requirements are the right size and quality of a backpack so you can hike comfortably. 

Tips for choosing the right hiking backpack include:

Organisation and Pack Accessibility

You’ll need a hiking backpack to have pockets in the right sizes and places so everything can be well organised. If you can also have some pockets to stow a few smaller items without a need to remove the pack that is also useful. 

Great accessibility features include side panel access, top lid designs, J-shaped openings and more. One of the best innovations in backpacks is the inclusion of a pocket that’s built inside the hip belt, so it’s perfect for your mobile phone, a small camera or snacks.

Pack Size and Weight

One rule of thumb to follow when choosing the right hiking backpack is that the size should be proportionate to your physique. Moreover, it should have enough space to fit in all the essential things you need to bring on a hike.

You might want to look at lightweight packs versus heavier packs. While lightweight is good for shorter, faster backpacking trips or run-hikes, a heavier pack will have extra features such as adjustable back height systems, more padded shoulder straps, more durable fabric and waterpoof covers.

When choosing a size of pack, think about what you will need to carry. For a multiday trip you might want a pack that is at least 55l, while for a shorter day hike a summer pack of about 20 to 30l will suffice. Also, the larger your pack the more you will add to it so aiming for a small pack might help the overall weight that you’ll have to carry with you!

Water Resistance

While your hiking backpack doesn’t have to be impervious to water or rain, the material should have at least a semi-waterproof fabric. You could choose to pack your kit in drybags inside your rucksack or take a waterproof over-cover if there is a high chance of rain.

Some packs are made of fully waterproof fabrics, but these tend to be more costly or basic in terms of features. 

Padding for Added Comfort

Padded Hip Belt. You’ll want padding for the hip area as most of the weight will be transferred there while you walks. The best kind of hip belt is adjustable so you can tighten or loosen it as needed.

Padded Shoulder Straps. The load of a backpack is designed to weigh in on your shoulders, so you’ll need extra padding for this as well. You get less back and shoulder pressure if you get enough padding in this area. Get a backpack that has only one piece of padding so it won’t thin out or split during use.

Padded or Back Contour. A lumbar-shaped backpack is much easier on your back as compared to a straight-shaped one. The arch conforms to your back, eliminating possible back pain and allowing air to move and keep you cool.

Keep these things in mind when choosing the right backpack to bring with you on hikes. Check and see if the pack you’re eyeing contains additional features that could prove to be useful, i.e., straps for crampons, sleeping pads, ice axes or a few more specialised compartments for optimised versatility. Also, consider the terrain and the environment you’ll be hiking on when finalising your buying decision. A good hiking backpack and hiking backpack rain cover, makes it easier for you while containing everything you’ll need for your outdoor trip.

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