How to Choose the Right Backpack for Any Tasks

Whether carrying camping gear for a weekend wilderness trip or textbooks for an overseas study abroad, the right backpack can make the experience comfortable and convenient. Choosing the best travel backpack can save you a lot of frustration and money! The best travel backpacks are made of durable materials. They are easy to pack and carry and have useful features like padded shoulder straps and hip belts.

Size

Backpacks are far easier to carry than suitcases, especially when climbing stairs or walking across cobblestone streets. It’s essential to pick the right backpack size, depending on your activities and trip length. The best way to determine which pack suits you is to ask yourself two questions: What are you planning on doing, and how long will you be hiking? The size of your hips is more critical than your torso length when choosing the right backpack at Vans since most of the weight is supported on your hips. Take a tape measure and wrap it around your hips, straddling the iliac crest (the twin pointy protrusions at the front of your hips). Find where the tape crosses an imaginary line between your thumbs; that’s your hip width measurement. If you’re a petite female, you can find backpacks designed specifically for women that offer features like narrow shoulder straps and shorter torso options. You can also choose a backpack with additional adjustments to fit your unique frame, including load lifter straps and sternum straps, as well as pockets on the hip belt, shoulders, and side of the pack.

Weight

A backpack can be heavy, especially if it’s full of books. The ideal backpack should weigh at most 10% to 20% of the wearer’s body weight. A heavier pack puts more strain on the shoulder and back muscles, leading to musculoskeletal pain and posture problems. A lighter pack will also be easier to carry. When choosing a backpack, consider its capacity and the type of hiking you’ll do. Backpacks are typically measured in liters, and most long-term hikers use packs that are 40-60 liters. It’s essential to find a pack that fits your frame, so look for one with padded hip belts and chest straps to help evenly distribute the weight of the load. Some parents encourage students to use their lockers throughout the day instead of carrying a full backpack back and forth between classes.

Material

Whether preparing for your next hike or just looking to upgrade from your old-school backpack, finding the right bag begins with understanding your need. Backpack capacity is the most significant factor, but other factors like fabric and features exist. A good backpack should have multiple pockets for separating and accessing your gear. They may have a large opening from the top, side, or middle. Some backpacks have water bottle holders as well. There are several backpack materials, ranging from canvas to nylon. The latter is a high-tech performance fabric sturdier than nylon but still lightweight. It is also water resistant and doesn’t absorb odor. Many backpacks have grab handles between the shoulder straps, ranging from a superficial layer of nylon webbing to fully padded grips. There are also lash points, usually in the shape of a pig snout, which you can use to tie things or hook a carabiner onto the pack. Some backpacks also have extra straps, like load-lifter and sternum straps, that help improve balance by pulling the backpack close to your body.

Design

There’s no “industry standard” for backpack size, but if it’s too big or too small, the weight won’t be distributed properly and could lead to back pain. In addition, a backpack that’s too large will quickly become too heavy to carry and may topple over. The best backpacks will have a central zipper accessed from the bag’s front or sides. This can reduce the time you have to open the bag and make accessing items near the bottom of the pack easier. Some backpacks will have a waist/hip belt to help relieve the weight on your shoulders and back. You’ll also want to look for grab handles on the top between the shoulder straps, which can be padded or unpadded and are used to haul the backpack when it’s not on your back. Other backpacks may have pass-through holes/eyelets (aka pig snouts), essentially square / diamond-shaped pockets with two-slit openings that allow you to tie out gear like rope or twine without adding extra weight.

Comfort

Backpacks provide great convenience and comfort. They have padded shoulder straps, back panels, and hip belts that help distribute weight evenly, reducing strain on shoulders and back. They also have various pockets and compartments for storing essential gear. Some backpacks even have a hydration pack pocket to stay hydrated on long hikes. The backpack capacity you need depends on the length and type of hiking you plan to do and the area’s climate. For example, a 40-60 liter backpack is generally sufficient for most trips, but you can adjust the capacity according to your needs. Choosing a pack that fits your body frame is essential, as a backpack that’s too big will create unnecessary back strain and topple over. If you need help deciding which backpack to purchase, visit your local outdoor store and try on some packs with your gear. Be sure to test the pack’s torso length, too – this is the length of the back of your spine from where the backpack’s shoulder straps meet the back panel to the point where the back curves.

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