4 clever tips for finding the perfect backpack

Choosing a suitable backpack is essential for every naturalist. Here are four clever tips that should help you choose the right backpack.

4 clever tips for finding the perfect 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.

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