How to Choose a Hiking Backpack

Hiking is a thrilling pastime that people from all different walks of life can enjoy. Hiking is a great exercise which allows you to see and explore beautiful areas of this majestic earth we live on. However, the sport can be a bit dangerous for the inexperienced. Before anybody decides to take up hiking, they need to research the sport as well as the gear that accompanies the activity.

One major component of hiking is a backpack. A hiking backpack is an essential part of a hiker’s gear. It will hold all the things necessary for a hiker’s survival. Things like a sleeping bag, food rations, water, spare clothing and a first aid kit will need to fit in the backpack. A hiker will need to choose a backpack according to their needs, which may be different for each trip. Obviously, the longer a hiker plans on staying out, the more supplies he/she will need. Some hikers choose to carry only the bare necessities and can choose a smaller, lighter pack. For the hiker who wants to make sure all eventualities are covered a bigger, heavier pack will be necessary.

When choosing a hiking backpack it is a good idea to choose a backpack that is an appropriate size and weight. Trying to carry a pack that is too heavy can ruin the entire hiking trip. Many packs are designed to be extremely lightweight, but durable enough to carry the necessary equipment. All hiking backpacks are not one size fits all. Most are available in small, medium or large. A hiker should choose a pack that fits his/her body style and is most comfortable. When trying a backpack on to get the feel of it, there should be at least 20 pounds of weight in it. This helps give a more realistic picture of what the pack will feel like when in use.

The frame of an ideal backpack should be lightweight enough that is easy to carry, but durable enough that it will not collapse or bend during a hiking expedition. A strong frame ensures the pack load is held in place and does not shift around causing problems for the hiker. Nearly all hiking backpacks on the market today have internal frames. This system is believed to be favorable to external frames.

A padded hip belt is a nice option as it can help avoid pressure or pinching around the hip area. The hip area needs to be taken care. The load of the pack will be sitting on top of the hip bones which will be in constant motion. Several pack designs keep this in mind and are created around the idea of alleviating as much of the pressure off these joints as possible. Packs with wide, thick padded shoulder straps are ideal. This helps distribute as much of the weight as possible over a greater area.

Another key deciding factor should be the number of pockets and how easy it is to access them. Many backpacks offer a hydration pocket. This is where water bottles are stored and can be quickly grabbed while hiking. Having several sealable pockets is an ideal setup because a hiker can keep his/her gear organized and easily accessed without having to dig through the entire pack.

The material the hiking backpack is made with is very important. Any hiking expedition has the risk of encountering moisture. Wet clothing or sleeping bags are not comfortable and can actually be dangerous in some cold weather situations. Packs with an outer polyurethane coating can help protect against some moisture intrusion. Most bags are made with lightweight nylon. However, there is a difference in quality. Look for ripstop technology. This can help prevent some tears and snags that can occur while hiking through dense foliage.