Undoubtedly, backpack is an essential gear for every outdoor event to carry your world along with you. Experts believe that when it comes to choosing a right backpack a good rule of thumb is, “Buy right and pack light.” There is a large variety available in the market ranging from expensive to cheap, lightweight to ultra-lightweight and highly fashionable to real basic. So it may turn out to be a real daunting and challenging task when it comes to choosing a right backpack for your outdoor activity. Most of us don’t know what exactly a right backpack is.
Well, a right backpack is the one that sits comfortably on your shoulders and back and make you comfortable to carry your load during long and short trips alike. To select a right backpack you need to consider many things, such as comfort, load distribution on your spine, important features and functionalities you required in your back pack and finally the budget. Among other things, comfort should be on your first priority, because you are buying backpack for comfortable journey. Therefore, to make a good selection decide which feature is important for you, how long is your journey, what is the actual weight you wish to carry etc.
Literally, there is a large variety available in the market to choose from, such as crush resistance, frameless backpack, internal & external backpack, lumbar & torso packs, lightweight, single strap & double strap backpacks, infant & child backpacks, hydration etc. Remember, they are all different so try them actually to see which ones suit you better. Before answering these questions, some important elements should be considered, such as purpose of your trip, duration of your trip along with the capacity you’ll need and the features you demand in a backpack.
First of all, remember the golden rule of backpacking “buy right and pack light”. That means you should buy the right backpack according to your needs and pack it light with essential things only. A right backpack is the one with the right size to fit your torso. It is the first and most important step to safe backpack use. If you can bring one of your friends with you while buying any backpack then it is ok, otherwise ask the salesperson to help you measure your backpack properly.
Next important point can be to purchase adjustable backpacks. Nowadays market is full of good quality adjustable backpacks. No doubt, adjustable back systems are great, but will cost you a bit extra than your bulk standard pack. Actually, adjustable backpacks will allow you to set the height and weight of the pack in the perfect position on your back. Either you can set it yourself or ask your friend or salesperson to adjust and fit your pack on your back by sliding it up and down until you are comfortable. So, when you feel it is right, you lock it off.
Next is to choose the correct frame size. Remember every backpack is useless (regardless of your good height and top quality of backpack) unless it has a correct frame size according to your body and shape. Gone were the days when people think ‘one-size-fits-all’-it far from the truth. Experts strongly believe that your torso size and your overall height are two completely separate measurements when it comes to backpacks. Actually Wayne Gregory was the first backpack designer who thought seriously about the importance of correct frame size to fit your torso.
According to him, your correct frame size can be found by measuring your torso from the seventh vertebra down the spine to the point in the small of your back which is horizontally level with the top of your hip bones. To find this point, use your fingers to trace the hip bone upwards till you feel the point where the top edge of your hip bones curve inwards, on the side of the hip, creating something of a shelf. This measurement is the torso length, especially useful to consider those packs with non-adjustable back system. In fact this system that is used throughout the outdoor industry today to measure the exact body size and to determine the correct frame’s size.
Similarly, another important consideration is proper fit of waist belt by knowing its correct size. In simpler words, the hip belt is meant for hips and not for your waist. Therefore hip belt should rest on your hipbone, not on your waist, because if it is on your waist then you will carry too much weight on your shoulder. In the same way if it is too low, it is bound to interfere with your walking. Quite frankly, both are undesirable. Ideally with a full pack on, the top edge of the waist belt should ride one inch above the top of the hip bone. Lastly, you should also pay attention to shoulder straps. These days many good quality backpacks are available in the market with adjustable shoulder straps. Backpacks with self-adjustable shoulder are regarded as top backpacks, because in these backpacks the shoulder straps can be rotated to accommodate individual neck and shoulder shapes.
Well folks, these were just few considerations for choosing a right backpack for your hiking or trekking. Your backpack contains all of your surviving things in a wilderness so you always try to select a good and comfortable backpack. The only cause behind the selection of an expensive backpack is comfort, so while purchasing any backpack, do some research to find the pack that’s right for you.