Backpacking Your Way

Backpacking Your Way

Backpacks are the unsung heroes of adventuring. No matter how gorgeous the mountain view or how hypnotic the sounds of the babbling brook, if your shoulders are chafing, you won’t notice any of it. How, then, should you go about choosing a backpack?

What you look for in a backpack largely depends on what you’re planning to do with it. The backpack that takes you to the top of Kilimanjaro might not be optimal for a foot tour of St. Petersburg. Among other things, it might not fit into the overhead compartment of an airplane. Here are some tips to find a bag that fits your style of fun.

For the Avid Hiker

When planning a hike, look for backpacks with wide, padded hip and shoulder straps and a centered lumbar pad, all of which will help support your load. Easy access to your water bottle is essential; mesh or stretchy side pockets are the way to go. And, of course, check the fit (especially torso length and hip size), since mild discomfort at the beginning of the hike can escalate into screaming pain a mile later. Take a look at Gregory backpacks for examples of good hiking bags.

www.backcountry.com

For the International Connoisseur

If you’re looking for a backpack for international travel, make sure the backpack fits the carry-on dimensions of most airlines. Common restriction sizes are 9” x 14” x 22” and 10” x 16” x 24”, and some airlines also have weight limitations of 35lbs. Straps and buckles should be the hide-away sort to avoid damage in transit, and a zipper that goes all the way around makes a backpack easier to pack, so you can stuff pairs of socks in there.  A popular choice for traveling packs is Tom Bihn.

www.tombihn.com

For the Urban Adventurer

Go abroad in style with sleek, minimalistic designs. It’s handy to have a pocket for your laptop, which can be secured with lockable zippers. And nothing is worse than having to dig through your underwear just to find your wallet, so hit the streets with a front-loading bag that features lots of compartments. Check out the packs created by Minaal and Tortuga.

www.minaal.com; www.tortugabackpacks.com

Handy Sites

Picking Backpacks: www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpack.html

Determining Size: www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacks-torso-hip-size.html

Pack Volume Calculator: www.backpacking-guide.com/hiking-backpacks.html#calculator

—Rosalyn Helps

Photo by Jason Priem via Creative Commons.

7 Comments

  1. This short-and-sweet article is helpful and makes me excited to go somewhere!

    Reply
  2. Very to the point and good tips! Now I want a new backpack so I can take it places!

    Reply
  3. I loved this. I’ve never thought about how the right backpack can really make or break an adventure.

    Reply
  4. This is exactly what I needed to see to decide a backpack.

    Reply
  5. I. Love. Backpacks. Probably more than shoes. I think I try to get a new backpack once a year. I’m pretty confident my diaper bag will be a type of backpack. It’s really hard finding good backpacks that fit a small frame, though. They either don’t exist, or they’re really expensive.

    Reply
  6. This is extremely useful. I may need to get a new hiking backpack soon. I’ll have to keep this article in mind.

    Reply
  7. I love how there is advice for different types of backpacking experience. I’ve done some backpacking, and one’s needs differ drastically depending on where one goes.

    Reply

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