QUICK GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR FIRST BACKPACK
One of the camping fundamentals, a good backpack is integral for any trip, no matter your destination, accommodation, or activities planned. For years, my choice of backpack was determined by nothing other than the size and the price. Recently I invested in a new 55L backpack. I was surprised at how much difference a good backpack can make to your camping experience. I had more pockets than I knew what to do with and the ease of access to everything was completely unmatched by anything I had used before. Here is what I have learnt about finding a good backpack.
The first thing to decide is what size you need. This will largely depend on the likely length of your trips. As a general rule, for a weekend trip of between 1-3 nights, you should be looking at 30-50L bags. For longer trips of 3-5 nights, 50-80L and for longer trips I wouldn’t take anything smaller than 70L, or you just won’t fit everything in.
If you aren’t sure what you will be using it for, going for something in the middle, around 50L, will give you the flexibility of using it for a little longer and packing light, but give you a lot of room to pack for shorter trips. I have used a 50L pack as a day bag before, but this isn’t something I would do too often as it is a little too big to be comfortable.
First, you need to look at the frame type. Most backpacks come with an internal frame which sticks to your body and are designed to the weight even when walking or hiking so you aren’t put off balance on rough terrain. They tend to place the load on your hips, removing the strain from your shoulders and back and making you more stable.
If you think you will be carrying a particularly heavy or awkward cargo, you might want an external frame. These are really only necessary for transporting kayaks or dinghies, for packing for your holiday you are unlikely to require an external frame. For a day backpack, you might want to consider using a frameless pack. Without the support of a frame, you can move much faster, which is particularly useful for running or climbing. You will have to pack very light, as the backpacks are not designed to be able to transport significant weight.
To avoid the backpack giving you a sweaty back, particularly if you will be wearing it for long periods of time, I look for packs with tension-mesh suspension. This keeps the weight a few inches from your back, allowing some air to get between the backpack and your back to cool you down.
Check how easy it is to access the bottom of the bag. Many brands now feature zips on the top of the pack, and the bottom, to provide quick and easy access to the bottom of the bag.
Some packs also feature detachable day packs. These are ideal for hiking, but also are great as carry-on luggage at airports.
Another thing to look for is additional attachment points. As your interest in camping and exploring blossoms, you are going to want loopholes to attach tools, ice axes and helmets. You will need plenty of loops to attach them from.
A rain cover to keep the pack dry on a rainy day is also recommended. The last thing you want is soaked clothes after being caught in a shower.
Is there anything you would like to add to this article? Share your thoughts through the comments section.