In a very recent journey I met a good friend who’s been travelling in various corner of the country since more than a year. She asked me about the gears she carried.

She had problems about the most important gear a traveler needs to have in a good healthy condition. A BACKPACK…!

Luckily we were in right place to figure out more options about those gears. We were in adventure “capital” of the country, Manali. 😀 There are too many dealers and sellers in that small region with national and international brands. I could show her the difference between various quality and apt cost for the quality some of them charged.

So my inner engineer started the quest for choosing the right backpack for an individual. This is what “we” figured out by exploring enough, talking to experts and reading too many reviews of each types.

Points to ponder while buying a backpack:

Before we start with technicalities, lets ask ourselves two questions.

  • For how long will you be backpacking?

 

Day pack upto 36L
Weekend Pack 36L to 65L
A week or more(could be months also) 65L or more
  • What kind of gear are you hauling?

What kind of backpacking you intend to do? there are different nature of backpacks available in market. categorize them according to your intentions.

Low weight Ideal for comfort and convenience
Ultralight Use a lighter pack with less features
Hard-core Prioritize comforts and convenience over weight concerns

Generally you want your pack to be as light as possible for which A good fit/perfect fit is a must.

Measure yourself :

backpack-size

Industry standard of your torso length is: distance from C7 vertebrate to L8 crest.

To locate C7: touch back of your neck and most prominent bone you feel is C7.

To locate L8: put your hands on top of your pelvic region – stretching thumbs on top of your hip. Center point of pointing thumbs is L8 crest.

To get more details, visit various manufacturer’s websites. ( Osprey and REI have done impressive detailed research on this topic.)

 

Lets get a bit technical :

categorizing the Backpacks.

Basically there are three kinds of backpacks.

1) EXTERNAL FRAME BACKPACKS

external-frame-backpack external-frame-backpack-3

Advantages: A nicely crafted backpack when it must have been invented.

  • Amazing frame which allows numerous customization as per user's need. Extendable top bar and a flat base below the frame allows numerous functions.
  • One can put one or many sleeping bags, sleeping mat, tent below the backpack (where bottom roll is displayed in pic above). If carrying tent as well then tent can be placed below and sleeping bag and mat can be placed above the backpack.
  • If hunting is allowed in that territory then one can use the frame to carry the hunted animal also.
  • Similarly in case of injury you can easily carry fellow camper/trekker as well.
  • external frame has a mesh web in back and has shoulder straps and waist belt. So it keeps luggage away from body which allows ventilation as well.

Disadvantage : There is practically no evolution in external frame backpack manufacturing and technology.

  • Because of frame, its heavy even without backpack.
  • Since its away from body, the luggage is strapped to frame which can affect your balance while trekking in difficult terrain.
  • In cold regions, ventilation may not be a good feature to have.
  • Last but not the least, its too bulky to carry around.

2)  INTERNAL FRAME BACKPACKS

Internal frame backpacks dominating the market nearly extinct external frame backpacks

Internal packs keep load stable and increase stability on uneven terrain by keeping the weight on natural center of gravity. Narrow profile allows the arms to swing freely. Adjustable shoulder straps. Fantastic usable compartments to store variety of gears like zipper pouches and stash box to protect elements already inside the pack.

Disadvantage: since the design keeps the backpack attached to your back, it gets hot and sweaty in warmer temperatures. Some companies consider that and make special design of the back of internal frame to create ventilation.

It is used as advantage as well, in cold regions that heat provides little more comfort where as in warmer regions it makes one uncomfortable.

Solution : Pack the backpack wisely. So that the elements inside backpack itself creates enough ventilation in warmer region and pack it dense to create warmth in back when wandering in colder regions.

3) ULTRA-LIGHT BACKPACKS

usually comes with no frame to reduce weight, so pack your gears with care so that load itself becomes its frame.

I have noticed people carrying backpacks. Having little knowledge about everything “hanging” on their pack is just made by the company to improvise its look and make it more appealing. They are unable to utilize the best of their packs.

Let’s figure out

How to wear your backpack THE RIGHT WAY.

Majority of weight should be taken by your hip and your legs ie center of gravity of your body where strength is the most

Loosen up all belts of backpack while packing. And pull them/tighten them in order from bottom to up (ie a. shoulder harness b. hip belt, c. sternum straps or chest straps d. Load lifters) according to max comfort and safety – as tight as possible to distribute weight across your body and avoid any pain or injury.

Shoulder Harness straps help us to fit the backpack if the torso size is in between medium and large. Pulling these straps provide perfect fit.

Load lifters are equally important straps as they pull the backpack weight towards your upper body and avoid the backpack to lean away from back resulting sag on your lumbar region. It brings better balance and avoids back strain or injury.

Waist strap should be pulled to keep backpack close to body for added balance.

Sternum strap connects shoulder straps for stability, prevents your backpack shifting abruptly on sides while travelling over uneven terrain. Can be pulled or loosen according to the need if shoulder straps are causing extra pressure to relieve stress on specific region to other areas for a while. Shoulder straps From close to away from each other on chest and shoulder area.

Some backpacks are specially designed considering female frame:  torso dimensions are shorter and narrower than men pack and hip belts and shoulder straps are designed with the female form in mind. O yea..

Female backpacks also works for young backpackers

FEATURES

Few more features to consider ie

  • Lids that’s attached, kangaroo pouch for keeping wet rain cover or jacket.
  • Rain cover could be of your backpack or your tent cover. It keeps wet stuff away from dry elements inside the backpack, allows drain the water and dry.
  • Some backpacks offer pivoting hip belts and shoulder harness that extend the range of motion to help people with variety of features and bone structures to improve body movements. Packs with rolltop instead of lid allows larger entry to the backpack.
  • Some have front entry to main compartment through zipper, pretty convenient to take something out from bottom of pack without taking everything out which comes on the way.
  • Shouldn’t have too many lash cords or compression straps on exterior of your backpack.
  • A reservoir compatible backpack is add-on.

 

A few pointers to keep in mind :

  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable
  • Size matters (proportional to your body. Shouldn’t be too big or small)
  • Water Resistant
  • Pads and Strap.