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You have to buy a backpack to carry your hiking gear and accessories. Whether you were hiking for one day, 2 days or 6 days a backpack is a must.
There are lot of backpacks available in the market that makes the selection process confusing.
You have to use them for long hours and thus finding a backpack that fits well and provides good comfort is very important.
Huge backpacks are tiring for your shoulders and back. Finding a hiking backpack which can support the load that you want to carry is a difficult one.
Quick Review: Best Hiking Backpacks
REI Co-op Traverse 70
The North Face Banchee
**Below, you'll find our expert's reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
In this article we will show you how to find one that suits you.
Don't look for a backpack that is cheap, they will not last long. Look for the best one that suits your needs and comfortable on your back. And in that process of finding one we will help you.
I know the problem of not having a good backpack while hiking.
During our varayadumotta trek I used a normal backpack with rain cover. The trek was fairly hard. But to make it worse my shoulders were in pain due to the weight of my backpack. Shoulder straps did not have padding. The waist belt was also absent in that backpack.
So it's important to get a good backpack to suit your needs.
Backpack Buying Guide
Volume of your Backpack
The volume of your backpack determines the gears it can hold. The volume of the backpack is shown in liters.
The length of your trek can be used to determine the volume of backpack.
For an overnight trek or 1-3 days trek 30- 50L backpack is enough, but it's not a luxury. 60L you will get enough to space to store your essentials and may also keep some extra.
For 3-5 days 50- 80L and more than 5 days you will need 70+L backpack. If you plan to use the backpack in cold climate then bumping up the size will be useful.
Correct Size for perfect fit
Your backpack also have different sizes(s, m, l,) similar to shirt and shoes. Choosing the correct size determines the fit and comfort of your backpack.
The size of the bag can be find out if you know your torso length. Using the size chart provided by manufacturers.
Measure Your Torso Length
To measure you will need a flexible tape and a friend. As you can't take the measurement by yourself.
First lower your head to touch the upper part of your chest. Locate the cr7 vertebrae on your spine. It is the largest vertebrae, you can easily notice as it protrudes outwards.
Measure the length of your cr7 vertebrae to the top of hip bone. In Order to find the top of hip bone place your hands on hips with your thumbs along back. The thumbs will be pointing towards the top of hip bone.
Measure Your Hip Size
Similarly measure your hip size. This is not as important in selecting size. You can use hip size and torso length to find out the correct fit and size of backpack.
Always use the sizing chart provided by the manufacturers.
Weight and Load Capacity
The weight of your backpack is another factor that has to be mentioned here. It has to handle the weights of your gears for longer days. If it can't support the weight, then your hiking will became a nightmare.
You can cut down some weight by choosing a lightweight backpack. But the lightest backpack may miss some functionality and durability.
They use thin material to reduce weight, this will affect the durability. It can't withstand the rough handling and loads in outdoors.
Heavy backpacks can often have a good load handle capacity/. As the technology advances the load handling capacity of lightweight bags also increases.
Padded hip belt and shoulder straps
Hip belts will transfer the weight of your backpack to your hips. This helps to reduce the weight on your shoulders. Shoulder straps help to keep the backpack close to your back.
Shoulder and hip belts have comfortable padding. Padding will do a great work in making your hiking easy.
Without padding the area will become painful due to the pressure of the straps on your shoulders and hips. Padding helps to distribute the weight on your shoulders and around hip.
Lightweight backpacks often don't have padding in order to reduce weight. So taking heavy weight on them will be a bad idea.
You keep the camera and other valuables in your backpack. While raining they can get wet. But don't worry majority of backpacks are made with water resistant materials.
Seams in your backpack affect waterproof.
Being in rain for an extended period of time can wet your valuables in the pack. So you can keep your things in a plastic cover and keep it safe.
Some backpacks have rain covers with them. You can take it out and cover the backpack. Even if your backpack doesn't have one, purchase it from local store or from amazon.
Rain covers didn't weigh much and carrying one is a must in rainy season.
Yes backpacks have frames. Not all models have frames. But the best backpacks have metal rods inside them.
This helps to manage the weights and helps to transfer the weight to hips. Some backpacks have external frames. If you have a choice always go for backpacks with internal frames.
Hiking hours with backpack can cause your back to sweat. Airflow will be blocked by your backpack.
To overcome this back panels will be lined with mesh to increase the airflow. Some backpack models succeed in providing good ventilation.
Some models even provide these mesh even on hip belt.
Backpack Design And Organizational Features 🙂
The main factors to select a backpack are listed above. There are other organizational and design features that help to simplify or ease your hiking. A water bottle holster which make water bottle easily accessible while hiking.
In lightweight backpacks you may not find these features. It's done purposefully to reduce the weight.
Access through front
The arrangement of gears in your main compartment is important. Keep the things not needed till camp towards bottom of the compartment.
Otherwise you have to shovel through the top to find something from the bottom.
Some backpacks have an access to main compartment towards the middle or bottom which is secured with a zipper.
You can access the lower part of the compartment with ease. In lightweight backpacks these are avoided to reduce weight.
Front Mesh Pocket
Backpacks have a large mesh pocket on the front. This can be used to keep your jacket or to dry out wet items.
Hip Belt Pockets
Most of the backpacks now have hip belt pockets. You can keep you camera, and snacks in the pocket. This make them easily accessible.
While you trek and want to take stunning view of valley, open your hip pocket and take your camera out.......& Click.
Similar to hip pockets, shoulder pouch will also help to keep gears or snacks.
Water Bottle Holder
All backpacks have these water bottle holders. You can keep your water bottles at an easily accessible location.
You have check whether you can grab the water bottle with ease while they are on your back.
Water is used throughout the trek for hydration, easy access to water bottle is important.
If you use hydration bladder, then hydration ports are needed. Otherwise you can't use your hydration bladder.
Hydration sleeves and ports are found in most backpacks. It's not an important feature.
Hiking Pole & Ice Axe Loops
Compression straps are found at the side of the backpack. You can pull them to keep the weight closer to your body. They also act as a holder for taller items like tent poles.
Load Lifter Straps/ stabilizer straps
These are found at the top your shoulder straps. They help you to stabilize the weight of the bag when tighten.
It also help to shift the load towards the front of your shoulders. Thus reducing the downwards pressure.
Caring and maintenance
After each use your backpack will get dirt. You can clean them using a damp cloth. If your pack is wet hang it to dry before storing.
You can wash them in warm water with some mild detergent. Store them in a cool dry place away from sunlight.
Are you looking for best lightweight hiking backpacks?
How to pack your backpack
The ground sheet can be placed under the flap and the tent beneath the pack if there is no space inside. Keep a rainproof jacket and fleece close at hand.
Review of Some of the Best Hiking Backpacks
REI Co-op Traverse 70
The North Face Banchee
The above shown backpacks are good but we recommend the atmos AG 65. It has the features of a good backpack with a fair price.
Osprey Atmos AG 65 is 4 pound weighting backpack. It can handle 40 pounds of weight without any issue. But its not supportive for super heavy loads.
It has a suspended antigravity ventilated mesh back panel, this increases the air movement. The mesh panel extends into the hip belt.
Zippered pockets are provided on hip belts, and on top lid. Stretch mesh pockets are provided on sides. So there is enough space to store your camera, snacks or lip balm.
You can adjust the size of backpack based on your torso length to fit with yours. Hydration sleeve and ports are provided.
Image credits: ospreypacks.com, amazon.com, thenorthface.com,& rei.com