Today’s ergonomically designed backpacks are lightweight and minimalist in size. It is hard to find a school-aged child today who doesn’t own some type of backpack. They are excellent for carrying school assignments, lunches, and everything kids find interesting. Adults have a love affair with backpacks too. New mothers prefer backpacks to carrying a diaper bag, and many young executives opt for a backpack over a briefcase since backpacks can hold more documents. College students love them too.
Backpacks were originally created for transporting needed survival items while traveling on foot. Fortunately, modern innovation has advanced a long way since the days of carrying a massive pack strapped to an external frame. Long-distance trekkers often choose ultralight packs, while weekend hikers prefer backpacks with comfort-oriented options such as additional padding and back panel ventilation. Other considerations include how much gear you plan to bring along, the temperature if hiking in cold weather, and the expected duration of your trip. Here are some things to ponder when purchasing a backpack.
Ideally, the size of your pack should match the volume of gear you intend to carry. Older gear doesn’t compress well, so if camping is part of the plan consider purchasing a lightweight tent and a down sleeping bag. These items won’t weigh you down or take up valuable space since they can be attached to the outside of the pack. The main compartment on most hiking backpacks is accessed via an opening at the top. For efficiency, use this section for items infrequently needed while hiking, such as clothing and camping equipment. Many hiking models offer additional exterior pockets to carry smaller items like cameras, rain gear, and water bottles. Some brands offer hipbelt pockets for added storage and convenience.
Compression straps located along the sides of the pack are essential. Tightening these straps pulls the weight of the loaded backpack snugly against you, helping to stabilize the load and easing stress on your lower back. Ventilation is also crucial since a tightly secured pack traps body heat. Typically, quality backpacks have layered foam and mesh panels strategically located to improve airflow and dissipate heat. Finally, the thickness and amount of padding offered are critically important considerations. A properly set up pack should place the majority of weight on your hips, with the shoulders carrying a minimal portion of the load. Soft padding may be fine for day hikers carrying light loads, but firm padding offers much better comfort and support on longer treks.