A Guide to Buying Hiking Packs
Buying the right bag.
Finding the right tramping pack for your adventures can be a bit overwhelming with the endless options out there but we are here to help you find the right one. When buying a pack think about what sort of tramping you are doing and what attributes you need. Like shoes, you are best to visit your local store so you can try some options and get the right pack from the get-go. At Outside Sports, our have staff have years of experience to help you find the perfect pack. Bring along your tramping gear so you can test a pack with it and see exactly how it will feel out on the trail.
A general rule of thumb when deciding pack volume is for day trips: 15-20L, weekend trips: 30-50L, 3+ nights: 50-80L. This can vary depending on the type of gear you have (high performance gear will often be lighter and take up less room), and whether you are carrying extra luxuries such as a portable speaker or your favourite teddy bear.
A pack that feels comfortable at first can turn into a nightmare after a long days hiking so it is important to get one that fits you properly. To find your size, get a friend or someone at your local store to help you measure your torso. This is measured from your C7 vertebrae down to your hip bones. A pack should also have adjustable straps on your waist belt, shoulders, arm loops and sternum so you can fine tune the fit and make adjustments on the trail. Most brands also do women’s specific packs with wider hips in relation to torso.
The finer details demonstrate the quality of manufacturing. Look out for metal zips that open and close smoothly, sturdy buckles, and good padding on the shoulders. Durable material such as canvas is great if you are hiking through bush or climbing but will weigh more so depending on usage a nylon pack may suit better.
Every ounce counts but giving up functionality for a lighter pack with less support may result in more discomfort. Most decent packs will have rigid frame or stays inside the pack to keep it stiff and hold it shape. These will also help transfer the weight of the pack onto the hip belt, where the weight should be carried (not on your shoulders).
Packs have all sorts of features but remember every added feature is added weight so only get a pack with what you need. Some good things to look for are built in waterproof covers, compression straps that eliminate empty space in the pack, adjustable back systems, back ventilation systems, easy access pockets and attachment points.
Tramping is a great way to get out and enjoy nature. We encourage you to take the environment we all love into account when purchasing. Some packs are made with chemical waterproof coatings or manufactured with non-sustainable materials or practices. Look for sustainable brands that are helping keep the beautiful outdoors unharmed.