Even if you’ve never been camping, most people are able to recognise a hiking pack when they see one. They are large, have distinct waist straps and feature many different pockets and pouches for holding all your belongings. That being said, hiking backpacks include many other features that make them better suited for tough wilderness excursions, while still remaining comfortable for the wearer.
Comfort is King: Comfort is the number one thing to consider when choosing a backpack, as you will likely be carrying your pack for the majority of daylight hours when hiking. Many modern packs feature padding on the spine, shoulder and waist straps. If it’s not comfortable, it will severely hinder your hiking experience and potentially lead to back or shoulder injuries.
Waist Support: Unlike a traditional backpack, hiking backpacks use waist straps to distribute the weight from the shoulders to the hips of a traveller. This makes the pack more comfortable and lowers the bag’s centre of gravity.
Capacity Conundrum: You may think that ‘bigger is better’ when looking for a hiking backpack. This may be true if you plan on spending two weeks in the bush, but when choosing a hiking backpack that you plan to only use on day trips, a 85 litre expedition pack is overkill. Base a backpack’s capacity with your planned adventures. A 20 litre daypack with a hydration bladder is perfect for day hikes, while a larger 65 litre pack is better suited for multi-day trekking where carrying a hiking tent and lightweight sleeping bag is needed.
Other things to consider when choosing a hiking backpack include; if the pack is waterproof or if it comes with a waterproof cover; has a pocket to hold a water bladder for hands-free hydration; has ice axe loops if you plan on mountaineering and if the pouches are in easy to access locations.
For more information about what to look for in your next hiking pack, check out our guide to finding the right backpack for you!