Choosing a suitable backpack is essential for every naturalist. Here are four clever tips that should help you choose the right backpack.
1. Camping backpacks: what to look for
For longer excursions, a capacious backpack is required. Overnight camping usually means carrying bulky items such as tents, sleeping bags and stoves, as well as food and some extra clothing.
- Generally a capacity of 60 to 70 litres (the measure of volume used by most backpack manufacturers) is adequate for this purpose.
- Most modern backpacks have a lightweight internal frame, to give the pack a more comfortable and stable shape for carrying, particularly off the beaten track.
- Traditional external-frame backpacks are not always easy to come by, but they are useful for very large loads and they also allow better air circulation between your body and the pack — a boon on a hot summer day.
2. Simple versus complex models
In their most basic form, backpacks consist of a large single compartment with a lid and top pocket.
- This arrangement has the advantage of simplicity, with fewer seams and zips to create potential weak points in construction and fewer places where water can gain entry.
- However many hikers prefer a backpack with compartments to help keep the contents organized. The most common of these designs feature a separate lower compartment with zipper access, which is most often used for storing a sleeping bag.
3. Consider a travel pack
A further variation on pack design is the travel pack that doubles both as a suitcase and backpack.
- It has a back panel that zips open so that the contents can be packed and unpacked like a suitcase.
- Most travel packs also usually have a flap of fabric that can be zipped up to conceal the shoulder straps and hip belt — protecting them from the vagaries of baggage handling.
4. Look for these important features
No matter what style of pack you choose, make sure that it is made from hard-wearing materials with ample stitching at stress points.
- Most packs are built from either abrasion-resistant texturized nylons or modern canvas-style fabrics, which have greater water resistance. But no pack is truly waterproof.
- To ensure that the contents stay dry you will need to use a plastic pack liner or a selection of waterproof “stuffsacks.”
- Another alternative is to cover the outside of the pack with a specially designed waterproof pack cover.
Finding the right backpack can be challenging. Know exactly what you want and make an easy decision with these clever tips.