GUIDE TO CHOOSING YOUR PERFECT BACKPACK
Guide To Choosing Your Perfect Backpack
20 – 50 Liter Packs
50 – 70 Liter Packs
70 Liter or Larger Packs
Women’s and Youth Specific Packs
Youth specific packs are similar to the women’s (you can even put older kiddos of both sexes into a women’s specific pack or a smaller men’s pack). These youth specific packs have smaller frame sizes, smaller capacities and usually offer an adjustable suspension to help the backpack keep up with any random growth spurts.
Packs with a front access option give you an easy window into the main compartment and can be helpful for quick and easy access to your gear. A lot of packs also offer a side-access point and some also feature a bottom access so you can easily reach clothing or gear that’s floated to the bottom of your pack.
Pack Frame Types
Internal Frame Design
External Frame Design
Features & Accessories
Some packs feature a sleeping bag compartment on the bottom of your bag with an extra easy exterior zipper for faster access. While this isn’t an essential part of your pack, after a long day of trekking being able to set up camp as quick and easy as possible is an obvious plus. If you go with a pack that doesn’t have a specific sleeping bag compartment you’ll just want to be more meticulous when loading up your gear. Lighter items and items that you won’t need until you set up camp, should go in first so that they sit at the bottom of your pack, with heavier items near the top. Another option to look at is a pack with sleeping bag/sleeping pad straps for carrying your sleeping bag externally.
Next I’ll talk about other pockets that you might want to keep an eye out. Most packs feature side elastic pockets that are perfect for your water bottle or other loose items, but they can also feature hipbelt pockets that work just as well or better than the side pockets for smaller things like chapstick, phone or snacks. Shovel pockets are also a good addition to look for. Shovel pockets usually consist of a flap on the front with a buckle closure for holding your snow shovel, but it’s also a great place to stash maps, a sweater or your rain jacket.
Gear Loops & Attachments
If you want to add some versatility to your favorite pack you can also buy a raincover for extra weather protection. Raincovers are compact and easy to carry with you so that you always have backup in case the weather gets sketchy.
If you’ve never been fitted for a pack before, the best place to start is by going to your local outdoor store. Getting a pack with the perfect fit can be difficult, and talking to someone who can walk you through everything is ideal. But just in case that isn’t an option for you, I’ll walk you through how to find the right fit on your own.
Getting the right fit is mainly about two important things, how snug is the pack around your hips, and is it the right size for your torso length. To find out your torso length you’ll need someone to measure your back from your C7 vertebra (if you bend your neck down, this vertebra is the big bone that sticks out of your neck, above your spine) to the top of your hip bones (also called the iliac crest). Finding out your hipbelt size is quite a bit easier; just remember that your hip size isn’t the same thing as your waist size. To measure your size, simply wrap the measuring tape around your hips right at the iliac crest. For the most part, all you need to know is your torso size, but it’s good to know your hip measurements just in case.