Backpack

How to Choose a Backpack

| April 12, 2019 | Travel Blog

Choosing the right backpack can be challenging. There is no single model that is right for everyone because it depends on how you will be using it. The other determining factor is the amount of stuff that you need to carry. The backpack that you choose should fit perfectly and the suspension system should be able to handle you’re the weight you put in it and your body. This article will give you some useful tips on how to choose a backpack.

Selecting the Right Volume

You will get different sizes of backpacks on the market. These sizes range from small, to medium and even large sizes. You need to determine whether the amount of space that your backpack has can accommodate the stuff you will be carrying. Most backpack manufacturers state the volume of these products in liters. For instance, the capacity of an overnight backpack can range somewhere between 30 to 50 liters. It depends on whether you are a more traditional or minimalist backpacker.

Minimalist backpackers choose light and compact gear and will sacrifice some stuff that other people will consider to be necessary during the travel. On the contrary, traditional backpackers will choose a big backpack because they will need to carry nearly everything they will want to use while on transit. You will also need a larger backpack during winter for carrying additional clothing. If you are coming with your kids, you may want to carry an even bigger backpack. You can also convert the volume from liters to square inches. Any method can work and most manufacturers will provide you with both so that you can choose the one that works well. You will need more fuel and food if you will be staying out for an extended period. The nature of the trip will also determine the size of the backpack. In case you get wet, you will be required to change your clothes. You may also require to carry along a stove, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and a tent when you are camping. Therefore, the volume plays a critical role in how to choose a backpack.

Determe the Right Torso Size

The backpack that you choose should match your individual torso length. To determine the right size, reach to the behind of your neck, bend the head forward, and then find the C7 vertebra. It is the bone that sticks out the most on the upper spine. The next step is locating your iliac crest. Let someone measure the distance between your C7 vertebra to the point of the neck that is at the same level as the iliac crest hip. This distance represents your torso length. The backpack will fit well when the distance that lies from the top of the shoulder strap to the belt hip can accommodate the length of the torso. However, most backpacks have adjustable torso length and hence you can shorten or lengthen the distance between hip belt and shoulder straps accordingly. Some backpacks come in various sizes and hence the torso length varies from one product to another.

Choose the Right Suspension

By now, you have determined the right torso size and volume on your backpack. The next step is to make sure that you will be comfortable while wearing weight. The primary determinant for this feature is the suspension of the backpack. For example, if you will be carrying thirty pounds of weight in your backpack using a flimsy hip belt, all this weight will fall on your shoulders and this may be painful after some time. Several components will help you in choosing the right suspension for your backpack. These include hip belt, hip belt fit, molded hip belts, shoulder straps, strap fit, load-lifter straps, sternum strap, back panel, frame components, and frame sheet. In case you have a heavy load, you will be required to have a substantial suspension. Make sure you confirm whether the suspension can accommodate your weight. Most manufacturers are kind enough to include these details on the backpack.

Adjusting the Fit

This feature is critical when you want some guidance on how to choose a backpack. It is so uncomfortable to wear a backpack that does not fit correctly. It is like wearing boots that are not fitting you well. These products may not be useful to you if they don’t fit well. The backpack that you choose should conform to your body well so that you can carry the weight on your hips and not your shoulders. The torso length of your body has to be within the torso range of the backpack. The shoulder strap should also conform to your shoulder’s back. The load filter straps of the bag must come up off at an angle of 45 degrees. The hip belt needs to cover your hip bones’ top (iliac crest). Lastly, the hip belt should have the capacity to support most of the weight in the backpack. Make sure you can adjust your backpack to meet all these specifications.

Pockets and Components of the Backpack

Backpacks provide several sleeves, pockets, and compartments. Some people prefer a simple and streamlined backpack while others want a product that has one major compartment. You may want multiple compartments to place your water bottle, food, phone, and other small items. It is good to look for a backpack that has the main component, and sleeping bag component. The other pockets and components include top lid, front pockets, side pockets and sleeves, and hip belt pockets.  The choice that you make exclusively depends on your lifestyle. The way you position different items in your backpack will determine the level of comfort. Heavy items like fuel, stove, food, and water should be at the vertical midpoint or even higher. You can carry the light items away from your body.

The other important elements to consider include the shape of the backpack and the fabric. Shape determines the freedom of motion and stability while the fabric is a clear indication of the durability of the backpack. The other things to look at include external frame parks, hydration compatibility, compressor straps, ski/board compatibility, spindrift collar, attachment points, and rain cover. All said and done, you will not know how to choose a backpack unless you understand your needs.

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