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Selecting the Right Backpack

A good backpack can make or break your outdoor adventures. Before purchasing one for use on your next expedition, here’s some information a backpacker should consider:

Size does matter: Choose it carefully

Lay out all the outdoor gear and supplies you’re planning to carry in the pack on a flat surface like a large table or a bed. You’ll be surprised at how much there is! Especially if you need to carry your food, shelter and other equipment along with you in the pack.

A large pack is generally rated at 80 liter capacity or more. Planning just a short jaunt to the backcountry? A daypack of 20 liter capacity might be just right to carry your gear, lunch, water bottle and an energy bar or two.

Regardless of size, the pack should have a waist belt and contoured, padded shoulder straps. The waist belt allows the weight of the pack to be evenly distributed.

Frame design: Two major types

You should choose a pack with a frame if you are planning hiking trips of more than a day. Frames are either internal or external. While both types lend support to the pack, there are important differences.

Which to choose? Internal or external frame

An internal frame pack generally fits better. This means you will stay balanced because the load moves when you move and doesn’t sway or shift. Many people who use packs in light to medium applications value the comfort, versatility and balance of an internal frame pack. More people buy internals than externals.

External frame packs are better for carrying extra-heavy loads because they shift the pack’s weight to the appropriate areas of the body where large bones and muscles can manage the load more efficiently. External frames act as extensions of bones and muscles although you may have problems with the pack’s balance.

Pack design: Features to look for

Conclusion: Purchasing a backpack

Primary use, size, frame type, design, features, construction, materials, fit, weight, cost and consumer reviews are important components in your decision to purchase a backpack. Whether you’re hiking, biking or mountaineering, your pack should enhance your outdoor experience and enjoyment. The conventional wisdom is to buy the best pack you can afford. A flimsy or uncomfortable pack can make your backpacking trip a disaster.

Portable Solar Power Gear
Johannesburg • South Africa • Tel +27 (0)11 465 0022

Rita Liotta is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers regarding camping gear, camping equipment, tents and GPS.