Monday, April 28, 2008

How To Chose The Right Backpack

I would have to say that the two most important pieces of backpacking gear are boots and of course, a backpack. The backpack will make or break the hiker. Too small and you can't carry the gear you need. Too large and you are carrying around extra weight that can cause discomfort and lead to injury. But which backpack is best for me? How do I decide?

Backpacks come in three capacity groups. Depending on what you read or who you talk to, these sizes may be called different things. They could be day packs, assault packs and full packs. Or, day packs, overnight packs and multi-day packs. They can be broken down by measurement. You can use 1800-2500 cu in for day hikes and general everyday packs. 3000-5000 cu in packs are used for overnight and multi day trips. The packs over 5000 cu in are for adventures lasting longer than a week or for cold weather overnighters.

Another distinguishing feature is a pack frame. A backpack can have an internal frame, an external frame or no frame at all. The internal frame pack carries the load close to your body and can help spread the load evenly across the back. The disadvantage of an internal frame can be it's lack of extra pockets and places to attach gear. The external frame pack is ideal for carrying heavy loads and can be easier to pack. It also provides better airflow across the back. The disadvantage of an external frame is its high center of gravity and the potential to be a bit bulky.

You'll also need to choose a backpack length based on the length of your torso. Measure from the 7th vertebrae, (The bumpy one at the base of the neck) to the small of the back (level with the top of the hips) This will put you into either a small (under 18 inches) medium (18 to 20 inches) or large (21 inches and up)

3 comments:

Norm said...

Hmmm. I remember that I used to have a very nice backpack. I wonder what happened to that pack...

Kozaru said...

Can I just use my ALICE pack?

Hick@Heart said...

An ALICE pack can work however, an ALICE pack does not have the hip belt that will take the weight off of your shoulders. And if you use the ALICE pack frame the pack is much heavier than modern packs made from alloys. If you have the budget for it I think you'll be very happy with a new pack designed for the backpacker. I still have my old ALICE pack but I feel its design is way behind the times and today's backpack has many improvements just like any other technology. I hope this helps.