If you’re planning to take up the sport of hiking, you are going to need some essential gear. The most important piece of equipment you will likely purchase is a good hiking backpack. It’s important to pick the right one for you. Good backpacks are not cheap, so the investment is worth researching as opposed to going out and buying the first pack you see. When selecting the right hiking pack for you, it’s important to focus on three areas: the size of the pack, its features and how it fits on your body. We’ll take a more in-depth look at each of these areas.
When it comes to the size of the pack you’ll carry, you should really be thinking about how long you’ll need to be living out of it. Obviously, the longer your trip, the bigger pack you’ll need. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of some standard sizes and the length of trip they support.
30-50 Liters–This size-range is generally the smallest you’ll find for hiking packs, and they’re the perfect size for 1-3 night trips. Modern camping equipment is made using an extremely lightweight material, so you can get quite a bit of gear in these packs without sacrificing weight. A 3-night trip with a pack this size will require some careful planning, though, but it can certainly be done.
50-80 Liters–A pack this size will keep you on the trail for 3-5 nights in warmer weather. This size-range is probably the most popular among backpackers. If you’re looking to purchase your very first pack, this is the size to look at.
70+ Liters–These packs are best when you need to haul some serious gear–usually 5 or more nights. These are also excellent choices if you’re taking shorter trips, but you’re taking along a small child who can’t carry their own gear.
When it comes to backpack features, the options are virtually endless, so think about where you’ll be hiking and what you’ll be doing. You can choose your pack frame-type; either internal or external, number of pockets, access points, ventilation, rain covers, hydration reservoirs, etc.
It’s extremely important to get a backpack that fits your body properly. You’ll want a pack that fits your torso length and hugs your hips comfortably. Some backpacks may have the same capacity, but they actually come in different sizes in terms of torso length. Check the size details carefully before buying. The same applies to waist size. Finally, some packs have separate design features for women and youth, so research these products as well before making your investment.