Backpacking is an inexpensive form of travel – often a favorite amongst young/middle aged people seeking a culture packed adventure. Now you could be going on adventures in the wild, the mountains of Nepal, or just hitchhiking across the US states. The place or distance doesn’t matter because backpacking is meant to be low cost and mostly on foot or public transport. Therefore, lugging around suitcases and trolleys doesn’t make sense, right? Hence, the world invented the backpack.
A backpack will be your perfect companion as you hike over hills, check in and out of motels, or run after the bus you just missed! It is convenient because you get to assemble all your traveling essentials in one place. Also, you never have to worry about forgotten luggage – the most tragic of all incidents that occur during traveling!
So now that the benefits have been dealt with, let’s talk about what kind of a backpack you should choose. First of all, there aren’t just two or three types in the market. What you have at your disposal is a wide array of backpacks which differ not only in size but also in shape and style. Moreover, different packs are supposed to be used for specific outdoor activities. Why? It is because certain ventures require you to carry more luggage and therefore, have more backpack capacity. Another example in this context would be backpacking across vast distances. Now these would require you to keep a bag which is spacious but also lightweight so that it is comfortable to wear and move around. So you see, it is essential to select a proper backpack to avoid mishaps and inconvenience during the journey. This, however, brings us to the question: How do you choose one (or more, depending on your needs) backpack when there are numerous choices in the market? Well, there are certain factors you need to look for in a rucksack. On the basis of those features, you can select your ideal bag.
But before we move on to the factors and details, an important tip to remember is that you must never start the process by picking a backpack and then fitting all your gear in it. No! It is important that you ascertain beforehand all the gear you will require for your traveling and then hunt for a pack that will accommodate your equipment. For example, your tour may require you to carry ice tools. Now, you need to ensure that the pack you purchase allows you to attach these tools easily on its outer side.
Now that you’re well-equipped with the basic knowledge, without further ado, read below and relieve yourself of the stress which has been building up in you over selecting the right backpack. Following are the primary characteristics to consider:
Can the backpack fit all your items?
The first factor is capacity i.e. space – how much do you need it? In other words, what gear will you carry and hence, what bag will help you carry it all? Typically, more equipment on hand means more than one pack is required. An important point to note here is that backpack sizes are measured in either cubic inches or liters. But don’t worry; this article will help you through the details.
The basic step is to determine the exact period of your trip. It is one way to determine how much capacity you require. Knowing the length of your journey is, however, only a possibility when you’re purchasing a backpack for a specific trip such as a hike lasting for some months. If you want to buy a pack for general use and you tend to take numerous trips of differing durations, the right thing to do is to purchase two packs with varying volumes. Of course, you also have the option of buying one large backpack that will get you through long journeys and will also enable you to compress and shorten it, thus making it ideal for the shorter trips as well.
Although the backpack capacity required by individuals is different taking into account their preferences and the activities they intend to undertake, there are a few fundamental guidelines that you can follow when trying to figure out what capacity is needed for your trip. To make things more straightforward, these guidelines have been divided by backpacking experience.
The standard scale is suitable to be followed by beginners, parents wanting to hike with kids/pets, people who intend to carry a lot of weight, and individuals with both sporting and overnight gear. If you fit into any of these criteria, you will require twenty to fifty liters of capacity when you’re planning a single-day trip or one that lasts for 1-2 nights maximum. For a weekend getaway into the woods such as camping, you will need to purchase a pack with fifty to sixty liters of capacity. However, if you go hunting for a week or plan a week-long camping trip, you will need more supplies and hence, more space – about sixty to eighty liters. On the other hand, all backpacks with capacities below eighty liters will fail to serve your purpose if you are planning an extended trip such as touring Europe on foot or spending all winter skiing and making S’mores near the mountaintops.
If you happen to be an experienced backpacker and prefer to carry less weight with you while traveling so as to acquire maximum comfort and agility, the above scale can be toned down for you. Twenty to thirty liters would work well for you on a single-day journey or for spending 1-2 night(s) outdoors. For traveling on weekend breaks, for example, to a nearby city, you will only need thirty to fifty liters in capacity. As for multi-day journeys, forty-four to fifty-five liters should suffice. Anything below fifty-five liters will not be acceptable for extended trips such as hitchhiking through the streets of Thailand.
Does it fit you?
It is an important factor to consider because a pack of the wrong size would prove to be uncomfortable to carry on long journeys. Plus, weight will not be evenly distributed, which means that certain parts of your body could become damaged which, in turn, would make it difficult for you to continue with your trip.
Typically, daypacks are available in only one size, which makes it easy for you to select such bags. However, other styles of backpacks have numerous sizes, so you need to look carefully over each and make a decision.
The correct way to measure if a backpack’s size is suitable for you is by assessing your torso length. Most manufacturers will provide you with a size range associated with the torso length; for example, a 16-19 inch torso may support a small size.
Is it light enough?
When mountaineering or climbing over steep and vast planes, the importance of proper weight distribution of the backpack will dawn on you. Thus, it is better to be prepared! When you are carrying a lot of weight on your back, it is normal for the body to lean forward. On steeper terrains, the body leans ahead even more. In such a case, if only your shoulders are carrying the major weight, it could cause serious trouble for your physical health. It is, therefore, ideal to get a backpack with straps not only for your shoulders but also for your hips so that when you lean forward, the weight of the pack is properly distributed between your hips and shoulders. It would be even better if both the shoulder and hip straps are padded. That way, your hike will be even more comfortable, and the weight of your gear and sack will not seem too heavy.
Moreover, ensure that the rucksack you are about to select has a padded back. It will also aid in distributing the weight along with providing great comfort over longer periods. Also, padding in the back leaves space between your body and the bag. Air can easily pass through that area which, in turn, will keep you cool as well. The latter is a great feature, given that how much you will sweat once you are moving on foot while lugging around a huge weight on your back.
Can it survive the trip?
When traveling, especially on a low budget, you have to stay prepared for varying circumstances including weather conditions. Now packing an umbrella in case it rains is a good idea, but most often, it happens that the parasol cannot cover your gigantic backpack. This means that all your gear and essentials will get wet. Therefore, it is vital to purchase a water-resistant backpack. You will find that several packs arrive with a tarp which works great when there is a severe downpour.
However, you should also ensure that the bag will not stay wet for too long; otherwise, you will have a mold problem on hand.
Hopefully, once you take into account these factors, you will land yourself the perfect backpack.