HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR HIKING BACKPACK

The trekking backpack is an equipment designed for those who practice activities in the Alpine environment, from Sunday trips to multi-day trekking, from the approach to a climb to the ascent of high peaks. Therefore, it must be chosen with extreme care based on actual needs.

The first thing to know is what kind of activity you want to do: for excursions we recommend a backpack with a well ventilated backrest, if short with a capacity of approximately 30l, while for demanding trekking and long excursions the recommended litrage is 60l and more. For mountaineering activities, on the other hand, we prefer a backpack with a back that adheres well to the back, thus reducing the size of the backpack. The capacity can vary from 20 liters up to 50 liters depending on the amount of equipment required by the climb in question.

The season in which you use the backpack can also influence the choice: in summer the size is smaller by having to load it with fewer accessories, while in winter the need is for more volume to carry more clothing and equipment.  It is therefore advisable to have the backpack appropriate to the activity you are going to face.

How to choose your backpack

When buying a mountain backpack, it is necessary to consider some important factors: the shape, the size, the lightness, the padding of the shoulder straps, the adjustment systems, the number of pockets and openings and the possibility of being able to fix in a comfortable and safe way the material you intend to carry.

In the case of hiking backpacks, make sure that the backrest is adjustable in height to better adapt to your height and anatomy: the shape of the backpack must be such as to allow a correct distribution of weights. There are also models with a “short” backrest, suitable for reduced stature: all women’s backpacks have a distance between the waist belt and shoulder straps to better adapt to the female body.

The waist belt must be generous, well padded, with a full-bodied consistency, tending to hard, wide enough to rest on the hips, in order to unload the weight on the pelvis, relieving the shoulders from the load. This is one of the parts of the backpack often underestimated but that helps, if well placed, to relieve fatigue and pain in the shoulders and back. Large backpacks must be able to rest on their hips, so that the weight does not go to weigh too much on the back.

The chest strap is also essential, as it allows the upper part of the backpack to remain in the correct position: this too can be adjusted to suit the physiognomy of the user.

The size and shape of the backpack also affect your comfort:

  1. A compact backpack that develops more in height allows a smoother and more balanced walk than products with a larger footprint in width that, especially in the most challenging passages, could make you lose your balance.
  1. A large backpack should be equipped with a rigid frame, preferably internal, so as to make the grip on the back more stable.

The shoulder straps must be padded with non-deformable materials in order to maintain their effectiveness over time, and must be equipped with a chest strap to prevent slipping outside thus ensuring better balance. For women’s models, the shoulder straps are performed so as not to interfere with the breast. It is necessary that the backpack, especially if large, is equipped with straps to recall the load; these are two adjustable buckles placed on the upper parts of the shoulder straps that are used to adjust the pressure of the load on the shoulders. Depending on the variation of the slope of the ground, the pressure of the backpack on the shoulders varies if you walk uphill, downhill or on flat ground.

As far as the pockets on the external surface are concerned, small or concealed compartments are recommended, as the larger the external pockets, the less stable the load. This is due to the fact that we move the centre of gravity of the backpack outwards, forcing the body to assume unnatural and unbalanced positions. The mountain backpack, especially if large in size, often has two separate areas of storage so you can separate the load according to your needs. Also pay attention to the arrangement of the pockets and accesses, make sure they are positioned where you would expect them in order to facilitate the search for material during use. Very practical for generously sized backpacks is the front access, a zipper that runs around the backpack to be able to open it from lying down as if it were a bag: in the movements of several days facilitates a lot the search for material.

The material used to make the bag is resistant to tears and water, also for greater protection in case of rain we often find a cover: the backpack remains covered and dry leaving the user the possibility of using only a rain jacket, less bulky and more breathable than the classic cape.

A last element not to be underestimated are the compression straps. They consist of straps placed on the sides of the backpack closed by buckles and adjusters, which allow optimal compression of the content improving the balance, stability and ensuring less fatigue.

Mountaineering backpacks, on the other hand, are mainly concerned with lightness and essentiality: both characteristics help to avoid creating obstacles during more technical passages.

The shoulder straps are minimalist and often the ventral strap is removable in order to carry the backpack with the harness worn. To reduce the overall dimensions, the external pockets are reduced to a minimum, however, the accesses are always very wide and easy to reach.

Finally, the equipment loops are not to be missed: they are fixed or adjustable webbing rings, which allow the transport of technical equipment such as skis, spades, carabiners, gearboxes, etc.. The material of the bag is very water resistant, tear resistant and with reinforcements in the parts subject to rubbing in the vicinity of the carrier.

Whatever type of backpack you choose, it is essential that it is perfectly adjusted to your body. Most of the weight, especially for large backpacks, must be on your hips: in this way it will be your legs, where the strongest muscles of our body reside, that will support the weight, not overexerting your shoulders and back. In this way the bust remains upright, also ensuring proper breathing.

How to adjust the backpack once worn

After loading the backpack, close the compression straps to secure the load inside the backpack. Now wear it, taking care to loosen all the straps of the transport system and place the ventral belt just above your hips. Now start to tension the lower straps of the shoulder straps by increasing the adhesion to the back of the backpack, close the chest strap by placing it just below the collarbone, and act on the load return straps that should form an angle of about 30°.

How to load your trekking backpack

By reducing the material to be carried to the essentials and preparing the backpack in the right way, transporting the load is made easier.

Large but not very heavy objects should be placed on the bottom, heavier objects should normally be placed close to the back, while the others should be placed outside. Leave frequently used objects or clothing in the upper part or in the compartment of the hood, and remember that in the case of side pockets, the weight must be equally distributed.

1 – Frequently used objects.

2 – Heavy objects.

3 – Medium weight objects.

4 – Light objects.

The trekking backpack is also perfect as luggage for long trips or for children as hand luggage. We have selected for you the most suitable models for your trip together with the famous PVC duffels from Patagonia and The North Face: light, resistant and comfortable to carry.

See now the whole collection of mountain backpacks of the best brands: Deuter, Lowe Alpine, Salewa, Ortovox, Mammut and The North Face choose the one that best suits your needs!

For more information contact our technicians who will support you in choosing your trekking backpack.

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