We’ve tackled in a different article the importance of being physically and mentally prepared before a hike and offered certain tips about this. Also, in the same article I mentioned how important it is to have the right boots and backpack. So in order to continue our journey through the woods, let’s take a look at why the backpack is so essential and what we should pay attention to when investing in one.
There are certain essential aspects you have to bear in mind when choosing your perfect backpack:
- The length of your trip
This is the main aspect that will decide the volume of your backpack. You will notice the moment you start shopping that the capacity of a bag is described in volume. This covers how much stuff you can put inside your bag. For instance, the smallest one you’re going to get is a 10L backpack. This is good for very short trails, half a day, where you don’t have to take much with you. The largest one is 85L backpack which is good for really long adventures where you have to pack a bunch of essentials and spare clothes plus other necessary items, including a tent and a sleeping pad, stove and so on.
However, bear in mind not to start your first adventure with a backpack that’s over 45L because in case your body is not used to carrying around such a huge weight, you will get tired really fast and hence become unable to continue your trip.
- Does the bag fit your back
I know it sounds insane at first but listen to this. I have been dreaming of this amazing backpack, 30L, so not a very large one, perfect for a one day hike. And finally I buy it and guess what. I cannot walk with it because it is far too long for my torso. So make sure that the backpack you go for does not, to put it bluntly, cover your buttocks, otherwise it will make walking difficult.
- Check out that belt
When picking a bag that you want to use for longer trips (meaning anything longer than one day, basically), you need to pay attention to the belts. What do I mean? For instance, it’s essential for the bag to have a hip belt, since the majority of the weight should be supported by this belt. It does take away a bit from your freedom of movement but also from how you will feel the weight. Besides this, it should have a shoulder strap, load-lifter strap (for the bigger bags) and a sternum strap (which basically connects your shoulder straps).
Along with these, pay attention to the back panel, which is the part of the backpack that gets in direct contact with your back. It’s essential for a bag to be padded, because you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the trail with your fork poking your back (just saying). The downside of it is that it causes sweating but never ever pick a backpack for a long trip that is not padded.
- Check out the compartments
The main compartment is the part where you will load most of your stuff, including tent, clothes and so on. Most of the backpacks offer you the possibility to load things from the top, others from the front and more exotic backpacks even from the side. So the options are unlimited, it mostly depends on what is the most comfortable option for you.
The sleeping bag compartment is usually located at the bottom of your backpack. And then there are the numerous other compartments. Certain brands prefer to keep things simple whereas others add dozens of other mini compartments. It’s up to everyone’s taste.
- Check out the material
If you go on longer hikes, it’s essential for your backpack to be waterproof. If you go on shorter walks you can opt for something semi-waterproof, however, it’s essential for your bag not to get entirely wet in case the rain catches you in the forest. Which, in case of mountainous areas, is likely to happen on a daily basis. So better be prepared than sorry.
Other than this, you can pay attention to what I would call at this point details, because they are nice to have aspects but you can survive without them as well. For instance, hydration reservoir is a nice to have element that will help you hydrate during your trips but in case you don’t have one, you can use a classical bottle. Attachment points are also good to have, especially if you carry around an axe or your walking pools. But if they miss, you will make it without just as fine.
All in all, it’s important to pay attention to certain aspect when shopping for your perfect bag. It’s good to buy a bag that you can use because the costs can be, well, quite costly so you won’t be changing it every second month. Let us know if you have any favorite brands or if you had any experiences worth mentioning. We are awaiting for your feedback in the comments’ section!