Whether you plan on an epic trekking experience or a simple weekend trip, you will need a large hiking backpack. It's important that you know exactly what size and weight you're looking for because not all backpacks are meant for the same purpose. Here are some tips to help you choose a pack that will fit all your outdoor needs.
One of the most fundamental things learned is the kind of pack you need depends entirely on the sort of experience you're planning. For instance, while all large hiking backpacks have handles to keep them close at hand, some are made specifically for use in harsher environments. The terrain and climate of your planned trek can greatly affect what kind of backpack is best suited to you. In general, though, backpacks fall into two basic categories according to how they handle weight and features. While all backpacks have handles, some feature extra attachment points, such as adjustable harnesses and stash pouches, which give you extra convenience and comfort when carrying heavier loads.
A backpack features either a suspension system or a hardback panel. Most people prefer the suspension system for hiking, as it provides a smooth ride even if your legs and hips get tired. On the other hand, hardback panels provide greater protection and durability for long trips. This type of backpack has either a sealed bottom or one that doesn't. Sealed bottom backpacks usually have sealed seams and are therefore less prone to punctures and leaks. On the other hand, leakage from a hardback backpack can damage sensitive materials and lay on the ground, causing greater damage and mess.
If you're looking to buy a new pack for hiking, the first step is to determine the size and weight you'll be putting on it. For long trips, you'll want a larger pack with plenty of space for your gear and water storage. Lighter backpacks, on the other hand, are great for day hikes where you just need room for your stuff. You'll also want to consider whether you're buying a pack with a drop bottom or a hip belt. A hip belt offers more support as you load up your bag, but it's more difficult to get into tight spots, so drop-bottom packs are more versatile.
Once you know how large your pack is going to be and how many items you'll be carrying, it's time to think about what kind of backpack you'd like to buy. There are several different styles that include different compartments, such as outside and inside packs that have single, double, and triple compartment models. There are also multiple pockets on the outside of the bag for attaching trekking poles, your cell phone, and other personal items.
Another option for your new pack is a spacious, padded divider. Divider systems are made of two separate panels that fit side-by-side and can be zippered or adjustable. One panel can be used as a sleeping bag and the other as a protective cover for your gear. Because it's zippered and adjustable, it can easily be tailored to fit any layout you may find. In addition to keeping clothes neat, having a zippered compartment for gear makes it easier to reach when you're walking in uneven terrain.
Another feature to consider is whether you'd like side or front access to your pack. In the past, people had to open their pack to get at their pockets, but newer models offer a zipper at the top of the bag, allowing quick access without opening the whole thing. This is especially useful if you've got a lot of tools like hammers, screwdrivers, etc.
The big decision you'll have to make is whether to go with a traditional large hiking bag or a hydration backpack. The biggest drawback to a large backpack is its weight. You can carry a lot of gear on a medium-size backpack, but you don't have the same carrying load as you do with a smaller pack. A lightweight hydration pack is perfect for day hikes and short day trips. It can even be taken on long backpacking trips where you'll want to carry all your necessary gear. However, if you'll be climbing, going downhill, or hiking through difficult terrain, a large pack will be your best choice.