How to choose the most suitable backpack for you? Since there is no suitable model for everyone, you should choose based on factors such as what you are doing, when and where you are going, and how long you travel. Knowing these things will help you determine how much you need to bring. Moreover, a suitable packaging and a suspension system that can handle your body and the weight it bears.
The following is mainly for larger overnight backpacks.
THE FIRST STEP IS KNOW HOW TO SIZE AND FIT A BACKPACK.
Above all else, the best backpack for you is the one that fits your body the best. One of the keys to finding that right backpack is to get one that is the correct size (e.g., small, medium, large). Your torso length—not your height—is the key measurement.
Whichever backpack you choose, it needs to match your torso length. To determine your size, reach behind your neck, bend your head forward, and find the C7 vertebra: It’s the bone that sticks out the most on your upper spine. Next, locate the iliac crest. It’s the top of the hip shelf on the sides of your hips. Finally, have somebody take a cloth measuring tape to take the distance from the C7 vertebra down to the point of your back that’s at the same level as your hips’ iliac crest. This distance is your torso length.
You have four primary adjustment straps:
- Shoulder straps
- Load-lifter straps
- Sternum strap
AND THE SECOND STEP IS TO KNOW THIS THREE MORE QUESTIONS.
1. What activities are you going to do?
2. What weather conditions are you going to do them in?
3. How long are you going for?
Once you’ve figured out your specific needs, we can figure out the best size for you.
Backpacks up to 35L are ideal day packs for both hiking and travel.
Backpacks between 35L–50L are ideal for overnight hikes, lightweight hikers and travellers.
Backpacks bigger than 50L are great for longer multi day hikes and long-term travel, or a combination of the two.
The majority of packs sold today are body-hugging internal frame packs that are designed to keep a hiker stable on uneven, off-trail terrain. They may incorporate a variety of load-support technologies that all function to transfer the load to the hips.
An external-frame pack may be an appropriate choice if you’re carrying a heavy, irregular load, like toting an inflatable kayak to the lake. External frame packs also offer good ventilation and lots of gear organization options.
Ultralight devotees who like to hike fast and light might choose a frameless pack or a climbing pack where the frame is removable for weight savings.
1. WATER-RESISTANT MATERIAL
While your pack does not need to be 100% waterproof (that is unless you are going on some long multi-day hike), make sure your bag is made out of a semi-waterproof material so everything doesn’t get wet in a drizzle (most travel backpacks come with tarps you can put over them in case of a severe downpour). Moreover, make sure the material won’t stay wet long and thereby get musty. I look for material that is thick but lightweight. Treated nylon fiber is really good. You should be able to pour a cup of water over it without the insides getting wet. I’m not traveling a lot during torrential downpours or monsoons, but I have been caught in small rainstorms before, and because my backpack is made out of a good material, I’ve never opened my bag to find wet clothes.
2. MULTIPLE COMPARTMENTS
A good bag must to have multiple compartments. This way, you can break up your belongings into smaller sections so it’s easier to access and find the stuff you need. For example, my clothes are in the main compartment of my bag, my umbrella and flips-flops in the top, and my shoes in the separated side compartment (that way they don’t get everything dirty). It saves having to dig around your bag.
3. PADDED HIP BELT
Most of the weight you will be carrying around will be pushing down on your hips, so you’ll want a padded belt to make supporting the weight more comfortable. The belt will help provide support and distribute the load more evenly on your back, causing less strain. The hip belt should also be adjustable so you can tighten it for extra support.
4. PADDED SHOULDER STRAPS
These make carrying your load more comfortable, as the weight of your pack will also be pushing downward on your shoulders. The pads will put less pressure on your shoulders and also help take pressure off your lower back. Make sure the padding is very thick and made up of a single piece of material as it will be less likely to split and thin out.
5. CONTOURED/PADDED BACK
A lumbar-shaped pack makes carrying it more comfortable, as it helps distributes weight more evenly — the same principle applies as is used in contoured chairs. It allows for a more natural arch ensure no back pain. Moreover, this type of pack creates a small space between your back and the bag, allowing air to move through and help keep you slightly cool (lugging your bag around can build up a sweat!).