Good hiking backpacks are crucial for successful hiking adventures. Hiking backpacks come in a variety of sizes for a variety of uses. Here are some basics to help you pick the best hiking backpack for you.
Structurally, you have the frameless backpacks (like everyday backpacks) and then the backpacks with frames. While frames can be more cumbersome, for the longer hikes these help with weight distribution and comfort. For a long time the hiking enthusiast was only left with external frame backpacks. These days, most hikers prefer internal frames (you are hard pressed to find external frame hiking backpacks now) as they are a lot less cumbersome and provide the same convenience in comfort and weight distribution. And they look a lot snazzier too!
Internal frame hiking backpacks are more flexible than external frame hiking backpacks, which is one reason for their popularity. Compression straps found in internal frame hiking backpacks keep the camping equipment intact while you are on the move. Balance is a crucial element in hiking, and internal frame hiking backpack provides balance by keeping the backpack closer to your body. It has a slimmer shape and allows free movement of the arms.
Sizing is another factor. When you start looking at hiking backpacks you will see the different sizes such as 3000ci, 5400ci, 6200ci, etc. Sometimes the “ci” (cubic inches) is even left out and you may see a product name like “TETON Sports Fox 5200” which implies 5200ci. Optionally, or additionally, you will see this in Liters (L). 3400ci is 55-liter, 5400ci is 75-liter, and 6200ci is 88-liter.
How is this meaningful? For a short half-day hike, a regular backpack like those you would haul books around in school would be fine. For long day hikes or overnight hikes, that is when the sizes will come into play. Generally, these are the accepted appropriate sizes.
3000ci is good for a long day hike It is generally accepted that 3000ci provides enough storage for a long day-hike or even an overnighter.
3000ci to 4000ci are good for one to two night trips, especially in weather where you may need warmer clothing at night.
5000ci and up are when you start getting into week-long trips. You could survive on a smaller pack for “backpacking” trips such as the popular “backpacking” trips across Europe. But for week-long treks into the mountains you will have another set of conditions to deal with: colder weather, rougher terrain, lack of civilization. This means more gear and a larger backpack.
6000ci and up, as you can imagine, are for the even longer hikes where you require more gear such as more clothes, tents, climbing axes, sleeping bags, food, water, camping stoves, and more.
Hiking backpacks, as opposed to regular backpacks, also provide a lot of different options for carrying gear. They will usually have sleeping bag storage areas, hydration areas for holding water, and a lot of external straps and hooks to tie in other gear such as climbing axes. They will also…