Modern hiking backpacks have advanced far beyond their bulky, wire-frame ancestors. Today’s options are lightweight, durable, weather-resistant and designed to comfortably fit a variety of body types. With a plethora of global brands and models available, there’s a perfect backpack style and size for every trek. Finding the ideal fit is a blend of science and personal preference, and it might take some trial and error before you pinpoint your perfect pack.

How to Choose a Hiking Backpack

A backpack should snugly fit your body, while maintaining your center of gravity, which enhances your stability and efficiency on the trail. It’s vital to find a pack that meets your specific trip needs without being excessively bulky. An oversized pack is more challenging to manage and adds unnecessary strain to your hike, and a poorly fitted one will be uncomfortable. Backpacks generally fall into categories based on their volume: daypacks (10-30 liters), weekend packs (30-50 liters), multi-day packs (50-80 liters), and expedition packs (80+ liters). Additionally, packs are designed for specific body types.

Especially if you have a big trip planned, you’ll need to plan ahead to find the right pack and save yourself time for a trial run. Before you start shopping, think about the nature of your hike: its length, terrain, gear and anticipated load, and factor in weather, logistics and personal preferences. Backpack materials differ in resilience and functionality, for example, a pack suitable for a light summer day hike might not be adequate for a prolonged, rugged off-trail journey where you might encounter wind and snow flurries. 

Before hitting the trail, it’s wise to test out your pack and adjust your packing load and technique. This preparation allows you to evaluate the practicality of your pack for your adventure and time to make changes if needed. Familiarize yourself with the organization and accessibility of your equipment, for instance, if you’re venturing through a mosquito-infested marshland, ensure your pack has pockets so you can easily grab repellent and protective gear.

dad organizing gear with his sons before a backpacking trip

How to Pack a Backpack for Hiking?

Packing efficiently for a hiking trip can make a significant difference in your overall experience. Plan your packing by spreading out all your gear first, allowing you to take inventory and identify any missing essentials and weed out unnecessary stuff. Trekking through nature poses its own set of challenges, so it’s essential to have a well-organized backpack that aids rather than hinders your journey. Having familiarity with your pack also helps, since looking for a headlamp after dark for example isn’t fun. 

Packing your backpack is a critical skill that greatly benefits both individual and group experiences. Prioritize packing gear by weight and frequency of use, and be sure you have a well-balanced load to maintain your center of gravity. Place heavier items that aren’t frequently needed toward the bottom of the pack, close to your back. Place lighter, readily needed items within easy reach toward the top. The goal is an easily accessible, balanced and secured pack that you can comfortably carry for the duration of your hike.

When a backpack is packed correctly, it feels lighter than if the same items were packed haphazardly. Proper weight distribution maximizes your body’s ability to carry weight efficiently and safely. A well packed bag will feel secure and balanced while hiking and allow you to move easily and confidently. Weight bearing should fall evenly distributed over your shoulders and hips (if straps are used). Unevenly distributed weight can make you dangerously top-heavy, increasing the risk of slips, trips, and falls, and poorly packed packs can just be downright annoying. 

Join our passionate outdoor guides for your next hiking adventure. We cover all the logistics to ensure you have a safe and satisfying experience. Give us a call or contact us to learn more about our custom outdoor programs.

Comments are closed.