Are you looking to buy a new backpack for traveling, hiking, trekking, mountaineering?
Whatever activity you do, you need to choose the right backpack based on the nature of the activity, the traveling time, and the features.
Backpack Capacity - Based on the nature of the activity (e.g. hiking, trekking, climbing, etc.) and trip time (e.g. 1-day trip, multi-day trip, etc.), decide how much backpack capacity you need.
Backpack Features - Select the backpack features required such as number and size of pockets, padding, attachment points, rain cover, etc.
Backpack Fitting - The backpack should fit you properly based on your torso length and waist size.
Here are the steps to choose a perfect backpack for your upcoming expedition.
How to decide backpack capacity?
Backpack capacity can be decided mainly based on the trip length and activity.
|1-Day Trip||15-40 litres||Travelling, Hiking, Trekking, Cycling|
|1-3 Day Trip||40-50 litres||Travelling, Hiking, Trekking|
|3-5 Day Trip||50-80 litres||Travelling, Trekking, Hiking, Mountaineering|
|5+ Day Trip||70+ litres||Travelling, Trekking, Hiking, Mountaineering|
|Activity||Recommended backpack capacity|
|Sahyadri 1 Day Treks||15-40 litres|
|Sahyadri 2+ Day Treks||40-50 litres|
|Himalayan Treks (5+ Days)||50-80 litres|
Features of backpacks/Rucksacks
Here is the list of 15 backpack features that should be present in your bag based on the activity and equipment/gear you are carrying:
1. Backpack frame:
There are mainly 3 types of rucksacks based on the frame
i) Frameless backpacks:
These type of bags come with no frame support. Frameless backpacks generally have low capacity and can be used for day trip activities or for lightweight travel. There are also backpacks in which you can remove the frame to reduce the weight.
ii) Internal frame backpacks:
These backpacks have frames embedded which are not visible from outside. Rucksacks with internal frames provide better stability and generally are lightweight. The internal frame includes metal strips, metal frames, or lightweight hard plain material.
iii) External frame backpacks:
These types of backpacks have frames visible from the outside. They are heavy as compared to internal frames but allow proper vertical load transfer to the hips. The gap between the bag and body due to external frame improves the ventilation.
2. Adjustable back system
This helps to adjust the distance between the shoulder straps and hip belt to fit the backpack according to your torso length. The adjustable backpack system adds a little weight to the rucksack.
3. Backpack Openings
There are generally 3 types of openings present in the backpacks:
i) Top Loading
Most of the backpacks have top loading system which allows access to your items from the top. In these types of bags, you need to keep the items deep in the rucksack which are not required frequently.
ii) Front Openings
Large packs provide zippered access from the front to access the items in the bottom or deeper of the rucksack.
iii) Bottom openings
This base opening allows you to reach the items present in the bottom of the pack. Some backpacks provide separate section at the bottom of the rucksack which can be accessed using this base opening.
4. Top Lid / Detachable Bag
Some bags have a pocket of size around 10-25 litre or detachable bag on the top main bag. These small bags are ideal for short trip around your camping location when you do not wish to carry the entire load.
5. Expandable bag section
Some bags have an expandable section around the top opening that allows users to increase the height of the bag and hence the storage capacity of the bag.
Most of the bags contain the following types of pockets
i) Elasticated pockets
These are mesh slim pockets which are stretchable and can be used to store smaller items such as water bottles, etc.
ii) Shovel pocket
These pockets are present on the front face of the bag and can be used to carry things such as maps, etc.
iii) Bellow side pockets
These are the side pockets with an expansion pleat on the outer side of the bag
iv) Hip belt pockets
Pockets present on the hip belt to carry small items such as energy bar, earphones, etc.
v) Internal pockets
Most of the bags have internal hidden pockets to store small valuable items.
7. Sleeping bag section
Few backpacks have a separate compartment at the bottom for sleeping bags.
8. Attachment Points
Most of the rucksack bags have attachment points for trekking poles and ice axe.
There are mainly 3 types of straps available in the rucksack:
i) Compression straps
These straps are present on the side which allows you to compress the rucksack in order to make them more compact and easy to carry.
ii) Load Lifter Straps
These straps connect the top back panel with the shoulder straps which helps to keep the top portion of the bag close to the body.
iii) Sternum Strap
This is a backpack chest strap which connects shoulder straps and reduces the jarring of the backpack.
iv) Hip Belt/strap
This strap helps to reduce the weight from the shoulder by transferring most of the rucksack weight to your hips. This belt with padding and pockets should fit properly on the top of your hip bones.
Padding on the hip belt provides stability as well as more comfort to your hips and shoulders whenever you are carrying heavy weight.
Some packs have breathable mesh back panel to allow air flow and provide comfort to your back.
A removable rain cover is provided that can be easily attached to the backpack using hooks provided in the bag.
13. Hydration backpacks
Most of the backpacks provide a pocket to hold a water bottle or a hydration reservoir consist of flexible bladder bag and drinking straw.
It is the distance between the C7 vertebra and the horizontal line connecting iliac crest (Bony part at the top of each hip).
|Torso Length||Backpack/Rucksack Size|
|Upto 16"||Extra small (XS)|
|16" to 18"||Small (S)|
|18" to 20"||Medium (M)|
|20" to 21"||Large (L)|
|21" above||Extra Large (XL)|