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Tips For Choosing a Backpack

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Choosing a backpack can be a little overwhelming. There are so many different sizes and styles and makers. Where does one begin? Right here! That’s right, you have come to the right place my friend. After you read this you will have all the knowledge you need to pick out the PERFECT PACK! So let’s get to it!!

Choosing a Pack Size

Backpack sizes are influenced by the season in which the pack will be used, the amount of gear you intend on bringing (Joe everything or Joe Minimalist), the length of your trip and the hiking environment (mountain vs. desert). Typically, winter trips will require an additional 1000 – 2000 cubic inches of pack space compared to similar warm weather trips. A good internal frame pack will have a spindrift collar which extends the top of the pack specifically for this purpose.

1000 – 3000 Cubic inches for day hikes

3000 – 4500 Cubic inches for weekend hikes

4500 + Cubic inch for extended hikes

These are general sizing guidelines. The type of hiker you are and the amount of gear you are comfortable with can alter pack size selection.

Internal Frame vs. External Frame

Internal Frame Backpacks are better suited for backpacking trips where you might encounter narrow spaces, tight confines and where balance is extremely important. The internal frame design brings the center of gravity as close to your own center of gravity providing better balance. Best used by people who are skiing, climbing, or hiking difficult trails.

External Frame Packs are great for carrying big loads. They are designed to heft big loads over long distances but are better suited to well established trails that don’t require technical skills and where balance isn’t a critical issue. These packs allow for improved ventilation, allowing a hiker to stay cooler. A plus if you hike a lot where the temps are high. They allow for bigger loads to be carried comfortable while allowing the hiker to walk upright and should be used primarily by hikers on well established routes.

Tips For Choosing a Backpack

Day and Fanny Packs

Day Packs & Fanny Packs are a great addition to any hikers gear list. They are perfect for short day hikes where you might want to pack a lunch or bring along some extra clothing in case the temperature drops.

Getting the Right Fit

The following steps should be done in sequence to get the proper fit.

1. Loosen the load lifters and belt stabilizers BEFORE you put the pack on.

2. Put the pack on and position belt on hips and tighten.

3. Now, tighten the shoulder straps by pulling webbing down and back.

4. Snug up the load lifters.

5. Before snugging the belt stabilizers wear the pack as is for about 30 minutes. Belt stabilizers that are too tight can restrict hip movement.

6. Steps 4 and 5 are up to the individual wearing the pack. Everyone is different so getting the fine adjustments set up right will take a little experimentation to achieve the desired comfort level.

Note: It is important to mention that properly positioning your pack belt on your hips will aid in the overall function of your backpack. It will allow for proper loading of the skeletal frame which is supported by your two strongest muscle groups, the gluteus and quadriceps.

Measure your Torso

Torso length is measured from the prominent fifth vertebrae on the back of your neck, which is parallel to the top of your shoulder, to a point in the middle of your back that is even with the top of your hip bones. Your Backpack should come with instructions on adjusting the pack for your torso length.