Friday, October 24, 2014

How to select best backpack size for hike

The best size for your backpack depends on a number of factors.
Photo courtesy of aconat / Photoree. 
When day hiking, you’ll almost always want to wear a backpack. This ensure you have much needed supplies – a first-aid kit, your maps, a snack – during the hike. You probably won’t need the loaded-to-the-hilt backpack you see hikers carrying in national magazines, though.

Which backpack size you choose largely depends upon your needs. There are several questions to consider when selecting a backpack size that best serves you.

How much will you carry?
The more you carry, the larger (and heavier) your backpack must be. Usually on a day hike, you won’t need to take as many items as when on a backcountry hike (For example, day hikers don’t need a tent, sleeping bag or bedroll.), so a smaller (and lighter) pack is sufficient. Also, when packing, you’ll want to ensure there’s a little extra space at the top of the bag, so take that into consideration as well.

How long will you hike?
If going several miles (Some hikers walk as much as 12-15 miles on a day hike), you’ll want a backpack with a frame, as it better supports the gear’s weight and balances better on you your back. A short walk of up to four miles likely won’t require a frame.

How much do you like to compartmentalize?
A smaller, lighter pack has fewer storage pouches than a larger, heavier backpack, so you’ll find yourself tossing almost everything into a single “bag,” requiring you do some digging should you need an item. Ironically, the larger the pack, usually the easier finding stuff is (because items are allocated to specific pouches).

Your best bet is to try out several backpacks at the store to see which one fits best. If you can’t decide between two of them, go with the lighter pack. Should it not be sufficient, you always can purchase a larger size and keep the smaller pack for shorter hikes and those hiking with you (such as your teenage children).

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.