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A Guide to Backpacks

The backpack is still the most versatile of all luggage solutions. The right pack is light, comfortable, and spreads the weight between your back, hips and shoulders, ensuring backpacks are a safe solution even when carried over long periods. 

Finding the right backpack for your purposes is not easy. The first consideration is, of course, selecting which capacity is best for you. It sounds obvious, but the right size is the smallest which can accommodate the greatest amount of kit required on a trek. This will often include food and water, equipment as well as clothes and, usually, a tent. 

  • This considered, any overnight trip is likely to require a 50+ litre backpack. 
  • If the trek is three nights or longer, or in cold weather, 65litres may be helpful. 
  • For family trips where additional space is required, an 80litre pack makes sense. 
  • Consider a combination of backpack and day bag, as this offers versatility. Carrying a smaller day bag for outings makes a big difference after a long hike with full pack.
For specialist pursuits such as mountain climbing and cycling, look out for packs with additional storage features for your equipment. This makes far more sense than finding a homemade solution at a later stage. 

The next important consideration is the type of frame to choose. Internal frames have become the norm, but external framed packs are still great for certain types of application. In hotter climates particularly, they come into their own. 

Internal frames benefit from a closer fit, and enable the perfect set up for your height and torso length. Adjustable shoulder straps, hip belt and torso straps, on a good backpack, should mould the pack to your particular body shape, representing the best way to carry heavy loads over rough terrain. 

A waterproof backpack liner will ensure your kit stays dry and protected. Even the most expensive rucksacks will react badly to moisture over time. If your pack does get soaked, empty and dry it out as soon as possible.

There are a variety of other options which can be used separately, or in combination with a rucksack. 

Hip and waist packs, made by the likes of Kosi, are very comfortable to carry and offer great additional storage. 

Similarly a lumbar pack, such as the North Face`s Photon Pack, perhaps even more suited to serious outdoor adventure pursuits, is a great addition to your kit. 

Hydration packs are an excellent solution, whatever the sport. When in hotter climates, it is necessary for a party to carry many litres of water. This is bulky in rucksacks, so it makes sense to carry a pack specifically for the purpose. Dehydration causes fatigue, increases your chance of heat stress, and can cause dangerous lapses of concentration leading to bad decision making. Usually cordura or nylon, hydration packs are lightweight and convenient. 

After ensuring your kit stays dry and protected, don`t forget about yourself! Waterproof boots, lightweight, layered clothes, available from Berghaus or North Face in the UK, and a waterproof jacket will ensure safety whatever the weather. 


 

 

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