The right backpack for the right adventure. In my opinion, the backpack is one of the most important investments for hikers. A backpack that fits right on your body and which has practical features, helps to facilitate logistics on the trail, freeing up more energy for enjoying the amazing scenery out there.
When you want to buy a backpack, you can ask yourself several different questions to be sure that you get the right backpack according to your needs. Consider the needs you have and take the opportunity to get help from knowledgeable staff in an outdoor shop near you if you are unsure or have any questions.
How many litres does the hiking backpack need?
You can choose between hiking backpacks that can fit anywhere from 50 litres up to 100 litres. I usually expect that simpler day hikes require up to 30 litres of backpack, B&B hikes 30-50 litres and mountain hiking where both food, tents and sleeping accessories should fit from 50 to 70 litres. When choosing the number of litres of the backpack, it may be better to take one with a little less capacity than you may need than a little bigger – it is better to leave all “good to have things” at home, rather than drag around things you will not use. All the things you bring with you should go inside the backpack and nothing should be hung on the outside, as there is a risk that these things will be lost.
Which compartments, straps and pockets are important to you?
Different models and brands of backpacks have different accessories and details. I like backpacks that have side pockets with a zipper, where I pack spare garments, my stove, and all the food and snacks that I want to be easily accessible. Some backpacks have features like a removable top lid, which can be handy if you ever want to go out on small detours and discover the area around your tent camp.
Another feature I appreciate on backpacks are those that have compartments for hydration systems. I easily forget about drinking when I walk with heavy packing and have to stop, take off the backpack to reach the water. It is much easier to be able to sip a bit on the fly from the nozzle attached to the shoulder strap.
Another good feature that can be found is the possibility of attaching the walking rods to the backpack on the go, very handy when it is time to read the map or if there is any time when you want your hands free. Always make sure that the backpack has, or that you buy, rain cover. Often they are integrated in the backpack or a bag that comes in the top cover, but others sell it as an optional extra.
How heavy should your pack be?
Heavier packing means that you need to put higher demands on the backpack’s carrier system. Your new backpack should sit well – that is, the waist belt can be snapped in the middle of the hips and that the back has such a length or is adjustable so that the shoulder straps follow your shoulder. Will you use the backpack for hiking in Sweden or even for backpacking and adventure travel abroad? Do you need rain protection or flight bags to protect your backpack and its contents? Is it possible to lock the backpack?
1. Day Packs (10-35 l)
A daypack should be able to contain the most important things you need to be outside over the course of a day. A small lunch bag, a coffee thermos, hot sweater and water bottle. Often, 10-35 litres will be very good for the shorter trips.
Depending on where you are going to use the backpack, there are different requirements. Some backpacks you can often buy with integrated computer protection and compartments for keys, wallet and glasses. These can be perfect if you want to be able to benefit from the new backpack even for work and everyday life too.
2. Hiking Backpack (40-125 l)
If you are going to hike between B&B’s or Cabins, you can get away with quite a bit less packing, so 40-55 litres can be enough. But when you have to bring all the equipment to get you outdoors for several days, you need plenty of space (60 -125 litres) and a proper carrier system to help you relieve the weight of the backpack. Make sure you have room for sleeping bags, tents, sleeping mats and food that you need.