How to Choose a Backpack

How to Choose a BackpackChoosing the right backpack for hiking or camping is more important than you might assume. There are thousands of makes and models out there, and of course, some are of better quality than others. Some have external frames, others internal. Maybe you just want a small backpack to hold necessities like food and water for a day. It might surprise you to learn that it is not necessary to spend a small fortune to get a quality backpack that will give you years of trouble-free service.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Decide exactly what you want or need out of a backpack. Do you plan on hiking hardcore trails in every kind of weather, and thus need a very durable, waterproof model with tons of storage room? Or are you the occasional hiker/camper who just needs a comfortable, smaller pack that's able to carry enough supplies for a 3-hour walk?
Step 2
Determine what your budget will allow in a backpack. A quality pack will range in price from about $80 for the smallest, school-sized backpack (meant for short jaunts or to meet the needs of children), to around $350 for the biggest, highest-quality material perfect for days of hiking in the sticks. A very durable midline pack that is water-resistant and highly padded for comfort will cost around $150. These packs are fully adjustable and have every imaginable pocket, mesh and full.
Step 3
Get a pack that fits your frame. These high-quality backpacks come in sizes, much like shoes; you'll find narrow, wide, long and short packs for different-sized people. Since it is highly likely you will be wearing this pack for hours on end, it is very important to get the right size. If at all possible, try it on before purchasing and pay special attention to weight, freedom of arm movement and how the straps feel on your shoulders. Three hours into a major hike is the last point at which you want to find out your brand new pack rubs you the wrong way.
Step 4
Take into consideration the color of the pack itself. Families or groups of hikers will often purchase the same or similarly colored packs for quick identification of loved ones or teammates, especially when hiking in large numbers. Also, consider whether a brightly colored, highly visible pack is important to you in case a hiker gets lost or in trouble. Blue and green backpacks look very stylish, but will blend into their surroundings more than a red or orange pack would.

Article Written By Derek Odom

Derek Odom has been an avid off-road trail enthusiast for over 10 years. Coupled with his love for four-wheel drive trails and safety is a love for camping and the outdoors. Through the years, he has acquired great knowledge of outdoor activities and enjoys sharing that information with interested readers.

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