Choosing a Backpack

Choosing the right backpack for your needs can become very overwhelming quickly and seem like an impossible task. Many people don’t even think about what they actually need their pack to do, and just go to the local outdoors store or online store, cover their eyes and grab a pack and call it good. They never ask themselves any questions about what their intentions are with the pack they are intending on buying. Buying the right pack for the wrong use can be burdensome and frustrating to say the least. Here is a sample list of questions you should ask yourself before buying a new backpack.

Sample Backpack Questions

  • What is my intended use of the pack?
  • Will the pack be used for all four seasons?
  • How rugged does the pack have to be?
  • How well made does the pack need to be?
  • How much does the pack need to hold?
  • Do I want internal or external framing?
  • Does the pack need to be compatible with a hydration system?
  • How much weight am I putting in the pack?
  • What size pack do I need for my body size?
  • Do I want one big open compartment or a pack with sectioned off compartments?
  • How much use is the pack going to get? (be realistic, it could save you a lot of money)
  • What extras would you like the pack to have? (rain cover, gear attachments, extra pockets etc.)
  • Does the pack need a good padded hip strap and well padded shoulder straps?
  • Does the pack I’m trying out fit properly and comfortably across my shoulders and hips?
  • Is the pack made well enough to hold up to constant use?
  • What color pack do I want?

The very first thing you need to do is figure out what your intended use is for the backpack and then you can go from there. I recommend that you lay all your gear out ahead of time and see how much you really have to fit in the new backpack. Depending on how much you hike, camp, hunt or if you are just putting an emergency bag together you might just need multiple bags. For summer camping I like to backpack as light as possible so I use what most people would consider a daypack. This makes for easy long distance hiking and a really enjoyable time. For colder backpacking I use a bag made by Golite. It is still lighter than most packs out there but I can now carry the extra needed things. For my emergency/bug out bag I use a Rothco medium transport bag. It is much heavier and rugged but if I’m in an emergency situation I don’t want my bag to fail me. This works for me but it might not work for you. Each person has different needs in a pack. A rock climber is generally not going to be using the same pack as someone lightweight hiking and so on. If you take the time to figure out what your needs are ahead of time it will make your backpack shopping much easier and less of a headache. The best time to buy a pack is in the winter. In February-March you can find great deals online and in stores. Many stores are trying to get rid of last year’s models and make room for this year’s inventory. What do you use your pack for? Are you in need of a new or proper fitted pack? Do you maybe need multiple packs? One side note there are some manufacturers out there that do design packs specifically for women so that you’re not stuck with a pack that was really made for a man’s body type. Golite is one of those manufacturers. I know many of us are looking forward to spring with much anticipation. Now is the time to get all of your gear out and check it over, give it a wash if needed and replace anything that needs replacing. Heres to warmer weather, beautiful greenery and wonderful memories made on the trail!

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