A backpacking backpack is the most important piece of gear that you will own.
That’s a pretty bold statement if I do say so myself, but I believe it is true for a number of reasons.
a. It must be comfortable
b. It must fit your body
c. It must hold all of your other gear
d. It must be strong and durable
e. It must be water resistant if not water proof
f. It must be lightweight
It Must Be Comfortable
The backpacking backpacks should have shoulder straps that do not cut into your shoulders.
The waist belt should be wide and heavily padded. All the weight will rest on your hips. Your shoulder straps just keep the pack from falling backwards.
The sternum strap should not choke you or be lower than your sternum bone. Its main purpose is to keep the shoulder straps close into your body and not slip off your shoulders.
Any frame components should not be digging into your back, banging against your head nor kicking you in the legs as you walk.
External frame backpacking backpacks will have a mesh backing between you and the pack. This is for both comfort and cooling. It allows air to flow between you and your backpack.
It Must Fit Your Body
Your backpack should fit snugly against your back.
None of the frame bars should be digging into your back,
The shoulder pads need to come up and over your shoulders to the frame and the tighten buckle should be a few inches below your arm pit.
The waist belt should come completely around your waist, but one padded end should not touch the other padded end. When you cinch the belt tight, there will still be about 3-5 inches between the padded ends of the belt.
It Must Hold all Of Your Gear
Backpacking backpacks come in sizes that fit everyone. Do not get a pack that your child will grow into. All that does is make his/her current backpacking trips uncomfortable and might make them dislike backpacking.
This goes for women as well. Get a pack that fits you, not how much it will carry.
Sorry guys, since you are much stronger than the afore mentioned hikers, you can carry a larger pack. But don’t over do it.
Backpacking backpacks come in a variety of volume sizes measured in cubic inches, cu. in.
A piece of advice given to me when I first started was to buy the largest volume pack I could afford and/or carry, but don’t tell anyone that it’s as large as it is.
It Must Be Strong and Durable
Check that the seams are double stitched. Where items are sewn into the pack that the stitching is strong. Sometimes, the sewing machines can miss some of the fabric and you have a week point and a hole in the pack.
The material should be a tough nylon, rip-stop nylon or even parachute fabric for the ultra-light backpacks.
Unless you’re a youth, this pack will last you a long time. So, make sure it is well made. Strong buckles and webbing.
Check the frame out. It will usually be aluminum, but I have had models made of strong flexible plastic. If it is aluminum, check the weld points for cracks or bad welding. I had no problems with the plastic frames. It was strong and never broke.
It Must Be Water Resistant If Not Water Proof
An area where you can have water leak in is the zippers. Make sure that the zippers are waterproof.
Let’s clear up some possible confusion about water resistant and waterproof.
Water Resistant is material that will hold out water up to a certain saturation point at which time water will leak through the material.
Waterproof is material that will hold out water no matter how wet it gets.
It Must Be Lightweight
Backpacking backpacks should not be the heaviest gear that you own. Keep its weight as low as you can, say less than 5lbs. Ultra-light packs will be much less than that.
Without backpacking backpacks you couldn’t go easily and stay in the outback over night. It is the most important piece of gear that you own. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.;)