Wondering how to choose a backpack for your next outdoor adventure? Then read our handy guide to make that choice a little easier.
Choosing the right backpack is one of the most important things to do before you hit the trails. And if you haven’t looked at backpacks recently, you’ll be surprised at how good they’ve gotten. Made with rugged yet breathable fabrics, backpacks are now able to offer a great amount of support and comfort than ever before. Some models even come with a waterproof feature that can keep your gear dry for several hours. Not only that but backpacks nowadays weigh a fraction of what they did a few years ago.
Having said that, a carelessly chosen backpack can spell inconvenience and make the hike unpleasant. That’s why you need to consider many factors before making your final choice when buying a backpack. But there are so many different brands on the market today. Because of that, it can be downright confusing to choose the right backpack – especially for first-time buyers. So, to help you out, we’ve come up with a list of things to consider before buying a new backpack.
In this blog, I’m going over all the things you need to take into consideration when choosing your next backpack!
1) Type of activity
The first thing to consider when you’re buying a backpack is what type of activity you want to do. Backpacks are designed to fit various sets of environments. You can find backpacks for all kinds of hiking scenarios and outdoor activities. If you’re only escaping into the wilds for a short break then you should opt for a small size backpack. Staying lightweight should be your priority when it comes to one-day hikes. That being said, don’t just go and grab the smallest one. If it is too small, you won’t be able to fit everything in. The backpack you bring must be able to carry all your gears and equipment needed for the trip. 20-liter backpacks are ideal for trips that don’t take a whole day to finish.
Likewise, you’ll need at least a 40-liter backpack for a camping trip. Choose a larger size pack if you’re going outdoors in winter, so you can carry extra clothes and water. Consider the weather also. You may need room for your wet weather gear. If your hike is on off the beaten path, or in difficult terrain, choose a pack that offers durability. Opt for backpacks made from a material that will hold up to rough treatment. Nylon is good enough for short easy walks. But it can’t handle the stress of hikes on challenging terrains. Therefore, look for a pack made from synthetic fabrics instead.
There’s no definitive rule to determine the weight of your ideal backpack. It can depend on various factors such as the type of activity you choose, your trip duration, and weather. So, the best thing you can do is to find a bag capacity you’re comfortable with. But don’t buy a high capacity backpack if ultra-light is your goal. Do keep in mind that the bigger the backpack the heavier it will be.
When deciding which weight of the backpack is best for you, factor in how much gear you are going to bring. Limit the weight of your backpack by making a checklist of important items. Backpacks that weigh between 3.5 and 5 pounds are ideal for most users. Consider buying an ultralight backpack of fewer than 2 pounds if you won’t be carrying gears over 30 pounds. Similarly, a frameless lightweight backpack is ideal for loads below 15 pounds. Remember, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to this — there’s only what works for you. So make sure your estimate of weight is as accurate as possible.
To spend a day outdoors without embarrassment, be sure to bring a backpack that can carry all your necessities. Your backpack should be large enough to keep all your gear inside. Long overnight trips typically require more capacity. For the most part, backpack capacity is usually measured in liters. 40-70 liter packs are very versatile and can be used by thru-hikers, and overnighters. Choose a 20-liter backpack when you’re going on a half-day hike. Remember packing light is critical if you choose this type of pack. And choose a 3-liter backpack for longer day hikes.
For one or two overnight hikes, go for a backpack with a capacity of around 50 liters. 50 to 80-liter backpacks are suitable for long-distance overnight trips. Likewise, an 80 to 100-liter backpack is needed for trips that last for more than 2 weeks or so. A backpack of this size will allow you to carry enough supplies and equipment. These packs are also a good choice for winter camping trips. It’s a safe bet to purchase your backpack once you’ve gathered up all your items for the trip.
4) Comfort & Fit
You need to make sure your backpack fits correctly before buying it. And one of the best ways to do that is to measure the length of your torso. This is typically done from the base of your neck to the top of your hipbones. Packs usually come in torso sizes ranging from small to large. Individuals with a torso of 15–17 inches should go for XS backpacks. 16–19 inches should go for S backpacks. 18–21 inches should go for M backpacks. And 20–23 should go for L backpacks.
Being comfortable while carrying a backpack is a must for any trip. That is why you need to make sure that your backpack has proper padding, ventilation, and straps. These things will help you balance the weight and take the stress off your back. Adjustable strap that let you adjust the length of the harness is a must-have feature. Look out for netting on the back too. You also have to ensure that your pack has easy-to-reach pockets and fits tightly enough across your hips.
Read this blog post by REI if you want to learn how to size and fit a backpack.
You can find a good backpack from under $100 to as high as $600. But cheap backpacks (under $100) won’t last long and are not ideal for long-distance overnight trips. Plus, cheaper ones tend to be heavier and aren’t as sturdy as you need them to be. So, it pays to buy backpacks that cost around $150 or more. To choose the right backpack, you must carry out proper research. And buy the one that best matches your needs & finances.
All in all, these are the most important factors to keep in mind whenever you are buying a backpack. But to be clear: there is no single “best” backpack for everyone. Every person’s needs and travel style are different. What works for us may not work for you and vice versa. So, you should take the time to find a backpack that fits your expected uses and includes your preferred features.
What do you take into consideration when buying a new backpack? Tell me in the comments below!
Want to learn how to choose the right pair of hiking boots? Then check out this blog “How to choose hiking boots?”.