Backpack Buying Guide - How to Buy a Backpack
Choosing a backpack is not a fashion choice or at least should not be. So make sure not to pay too much attention to the color or general coolness of the backpacks you are choosing from. See how 'cool' your flashy red backpack is once you have been carrying it for four days with a 25kg load! Before you read and use this Buying Guide, it is essential that you read our sections on Backpack Types
and Backpack Anatomy & Features
Once you have read these sections, you will know how backpacks can differ from each other and what you could be looking for. Here are our guidelines in Buying a Backpack:
- First of all, there is no such thing as the perfect backpack for all activities. If you are serious about Hiking or other Outdoor Activities then you will probably end up buying multiple backpacks, each targetted at a specific activity and trip durations.
- Think volume. You will first have to determine what volume you need to be able to bring the things you will need for your hike. Overloading a small backpack by connecting equipment at the outside of the pack is a bad solution as it disturbs the center of mass and the load distribution. You should determine your needed volume for internal storage inside the backpack.
- Load Distribution - The general rule is that the heavier the load you will have to carry, the more technical features your backpack should have. Take a good look at our list of the different backpack features. For heavier loads, you will definitely need a hip belt and the combined workings and adjustability of the shoulder harness, sternum strap, and the stabilizer straps.
- Specialized Gear - If you plan to take specialized equipment like Snowshoes, Ice Axes, Crampons, Climbing Ropes, or other larger equipment then you might want to look for backpacks that have special pocket, straps, and cords configuration which will allow you to easily attach these pieces of equipment to the outside of your pack. There are even special backpacks that are designed to carry a snowboard, skis, or other bulky gear.
- Hydration System - Decide if you need your backpack to facilitate a hydration system or if you are just going to use bottles and other liquid containers. Keep in mind that drinking tubes and bladders can freeze up in extreme cold conditions.
- Waterproofness - It is best to prepare for the worst possible weather and moist conditions. Especially for activities like Canyoneering and Coasteering, you will want a waterproof backpack. Look for a backpack that comes with a splash cover or that has a separate fitting splash cover.
- Fit - It might seem strange to fit a backpack but it is definitely something that is very important. Most backpacks have adjustable hip belts, shoulder harness, and stabilizer straps but even then, the basic shape of the hip belt and shoulder harness could not be compatible with your body. In particular, women might want to look for backpacks that are developed for the female body.
This is our Backpack Buying Guide. Know the different factors to consider when buying Hiking Backpacks and choose the one which meets your requirements.
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