A backpack is one of the essential gear items you’ll use when going outdoors and knowing how to choose a backpack for trekking is a crucial task. It’s the one thing that will carry your belongings when hiking, and if it’s not adequately equipped for your trip, you could end up in trouble.

Choosing your trekking backpack is one of the crucial decisions you have to make before you start off. It would be best if you looked for the appropriate backpack for your particular needs such as; storage capacity, organization, weight, and weather rating, and the one that can fulfill all your requirements. It is also an important decision because it will affect your comfort while you are trekking and the whole experience you will have.

Read about the top 20 best treks around the world here.

When choosing a backpack, you need to consider several factors. To help you make the right decision, we’ve compiled a backpack buying guide with all the information you’ll need.

How to choose a backpack for trekking: Backpack types

1. Daypacks

daypacks

Daypacks can be used for a variety of purposes. They are usually designed to carry small amounts of gear on one’s back, and they have a large, zippered opening that you can quickly reach without removing the backpack.

They tend to feature a waist belt, which allows the pack to move along with the wearer as they climb or bend over. Daypacks are available in a range of capacities. Some are very small and intended for short, light trips that require little weight and little extra equipment, while others can carry quite a lot of gear and are meant for multi-day treks where weight is not an issue.

2.Trekking backpack

A trekking backpack is a type of backpack specifically designed and constructed for hiking with heavy loads. This backpack typically has a more rugged construction, thicker padding, and more features to make carrying heavy loads easier.

A trekking backpack typically provides more comfort and better survival characteristics for hiking and mountaineering. It is more durable, has superb ventilation, and offers better shock absorption for carrying heavy loads. It is also typically made of more rigid materials than a daypack.

Trekking backpacks weigh 40L or more and are usually designed to be lightweight and durable. They have a lot of pockets, as well as can be weatherproof, comfortable, and stable.

3. Expedition backpacks

An expedition pack is a backpack designed for carrying heavy loads and a significant number of items on long or multi-day backpacking trips. Expedition packs are developed for mountain trekking, winter hiking, and thru-hiking (long-distance hiking).

They have a rigid frame and internal padding for maximum comfort and load carrying capacity, as they are designed to carry heavy loads for a challenging environment. Another distinguishing characteristic is that their shoulder straps and hip belts are heavily padded to provide maximum support while carrying heavy loads.

Expedition backpacks for women are typically smaller than men’s backpacks designed for the same purpose because women usually carry lighter loads. In general, women need packs with a volume of at least 60 liters to bear the load they’ll carry on daily treks or casual travel and outdoor activities during their holidays.

Check out the best expedition backpacks as curated by Expert World Travel.

4. Alpine backpack

Alpine backpacks are ideal for carrying heavy loads on long, strenuous hikes in mountains or wilderness areas. They typically have a rigid frame and wide, comfortable shoulder straps and back support.

These backpack designs are best suited for people who need to carry a complete gear set while hiking. Alpine backpacks typically have fewer compartments but have distinctive crampon pockets that you can use to store items needed during the hike.

5. Adventure travel packs

Adventure travel packs are like the above types of backpacks, but they have features such as laptop and gadget compartments and a compartment for separate wet gear. They often have more rigid exteriors similar to that of a suitcase.

How to choose a backpack for trekking: Backpack capacity

The length of your trip will influence the capacity of a backpack. You can have your personal preferences, and to make it easier to choose, here are some of the types of backpack capacity:

1. Weekend (1-3 nights): 20-50L

If your hike into the wild is for a weekend only, your ideal backpack should be lightweight.
Since you need to cover more ground in a short period, you should opt for lightweight but sturdy backpacks that help you avoid backaches.
Backpacks of 20L-30L would be fine.

2. Multiday (3-5 nights): 40-70L

Multi-day backpacks are the most popular backpacks that are versatile and ideal for long-term travel. It has a great capacity (40-70L) and can carry trekking equipment of up to 13kgs.
These backpacks have wider straps and hip belts that help distribute weight.

3. Extended trip backpacks (7+ nights): 70L+

Extended trip backpacks are used for treks that are more than a week-long. These backpacks carry more equipment and gear. They have an internal frame made of aluminum or stainless steel and can carry loads from 15-30kgs.
However, due to the internal frames, weight is also added to the backpack. For this, choose light-framed bags which are a bit lighter and durable.

How to choose a backpack for trekking: Backpack features

How to choose a backpack for trekking comes basically to this topic: the features. While going for backpack-hunting, you have to keep the following list of features in mind:

Backpack Frame Type

The frame or casing fits around your backpack. It is what supports the load you’re carrying and makes it comfortable to carry. It also makes it easier for you to help other people hold their loads. You can choose between the internal frame or the external frame. Both types of the frame have advantages and disadvantages.

Internal Frame
Pros: They’re more comfortable, distribute weight better, and have reasonable load control. They’re also easier to repair because you don’t need to see the damage to fix it. You can usually find them in smaller sizes, making them more accessible for young people and smaller people to carry comfortably.

Cons: They don’t work well in unstable or extreme weather while external frameworks do better. When you hit a rock, it tends to go inside the frame, and that can make the whole thing unstable.

External Frame
Pros: They’re more durable because they use a metal frame instead of plastic, which is more prone to damage. The metal won’t dent or dent easily, so you’ll be able to carry heavier loads than internal frames with the same pack size. They’re also more adjustable because you can change the frame’s length by adding or removing padding. External frames also work better when carrying a lot of weight, whereas internal frames tend to buckle when they’re overloaded.

Cons: They don’t distribute weight as well, which means that if you’re carrying a load that’s at an uncomfortable level for you, it’ll be even more so because your legs have to support the entire weight of the backpack.

Frameless backpacks:

Frameless backpacks are the next generation of backpacks with an adjustable and versatile drawcord system that provides a lightweight design while also being durable. This product is excellent for travelers, campers, hikers, and anyone else who needs a lightweight capable of carrying lots of gear.

Ventilation

Ventilation of a backpack is essential for carrying comfort. You should find a backpack with at least one ventilated pocket on the back, which will allow air to flow in and out of the bag more easily. Ventilation also improves the bag’s weather resistance.

Weight and durability

durable backpacks

The weight of a backpack depends on its materials, design, and padding. A lightweight backpack will not save you much on the trail. A durable pack will survive even heavy loads, but the higher its weight, the less comfortable it is while being carried for extended periods.

Pockets

Pockets on backpacks are essential for many reasons. Firstly, they make it easier to pack and organize your items while in the field. Pockets can also be used as an extra storage space to hold small things, like your radio or mobile phone. Pockets should be roomy and easy to use yet water-resistant.

A backpack needs to have four types of pockets:

Elasticized side pockets: Elasticized side pockets are accommodating for carrying items such as keys, smartphones, and wallets. That’s because they keep your things securely in place when you’re on the move. It’s important to note that elasticized pockets should be made of durable, moisture-resistant materials.

Tie-in pockets: Tie-in pockets allow you to pack other items inside your bag while still keeping them handy. They’re handy for organizing items that you don’t want to lose during your travels—like your tent poles, extra clothing, and hiking accessories.

Hipbelt pockets: Hipbelt pockets are designed to be a place to store small essentials. They are perfect for items that you don’t want to get lost in your packs, such as snacks, sunscreen, and lip balm.

Front pocket(s): Front pockets are an excellent place to keep your car keys and wallet so that you know where they are at all times. It would help if you did not use front pockets for items such as pens, packages of tissues, or wallets.

Removable daypack lid

A backpack with a removable day pack makes traveling seamless. It is the perfect way to enjoy your surroundings without having to stuff your bag in the lockers.

A removable daypack is one where you can attach to the front of a harness to carry loads while climbing. They are large enough to hold the majority of climbing and hiking gear while small enough to carry on the body. They are designed for carrying loads for long distances while keeping a low profile.

Compartments

One element that you should consider is the compartment. You need to keep in mind two things when buying a backpack: what kind of gear you’ll be carrying and how much space you need.

What kind of gear will you be carrying depends on the type of trip you’re taking, as well as the nature of your hike. For example, long treks or backpacking trips can require a bit more water weight, so a larger capacity pack is needed. If you’re on a day hike, a smaller capacity pack will do.

In the end, You should organize your backpack to keep all your belongings safe. Also, you need to have enough space for water and food. When you purchase a backpack for your hiking trip, you need to factor in the backpack’s load limitations that you’re buying.

Backpacks are used for many different purposes and can be used to carry all types of things. Some are designed for carrying tents or sleeping bags, while some backpacks have extra compartments for your gear, water bottles, or even a camp stove. It would be best if you choose a suitable pack according to your needs.

Sleeping Bag Compartment

A sleeping bag compartment is a storage space designed to hold a sleeping bag when not in use. You can combine such compartments with a larger backpack compartment.

Learn how to choose sleeping pads here.

Hip Belt

The hip belt is a belt that wraps around the wearer’s waist, below the bottom of their ribcage. Hip belts are helpful because they take some of the load off of your shoulders and transfer it onto your hips, one of the strongest parts of your body. Additionally, because all the weight is being carried on your hips instead of your shoulders, it makes hiking up steep hills easier and less burdensome.

Padding

The padding of backpacks is a standard solution to the problem of safety. The fabric that composes the backpack should be stiff enough to resist being crushed but soft sufficient to limit injury from sharp objects kept in the backpack, such as a steel frame.
It should also be of a thickness that makes uncomfortable contact with sharp objects less likely.

In addition to protection against sharp objects in the cargo area, backpacks should protect the wearer from sharp and hard objects being carried using padding or a layer of plastic or fabric covering the sharp corners and edges of items being held inside.

Attachment Points

A backpack is a bag used to carry things when you walk or ride a bicycle. The pack can be loaded with books, clothes, computer devices, and more. There are three attachment points on the back of the backpack.
These are the waist attachment point, which is the part of the backpack that goes around your waist and holds the pack in place. The shoulder straps attach to this point. The other attachment point is where your gear attaches to either a seat or a bike rack. There is also a strap that connects the backpack’s hip belt to make sure you are secure while carrying it on your back.

Unfortunately, these three points tend to get worn out over time due to constant stress and lots of use.

Raincover

trekking backpacks raincover

For those that will be hiking in different weather conditions, it is vital to get a pack with a good rain cover so that your gear does not get wet. Most backpacks already have a compartment for keeping the raincover.

Compression straps

Compression straps of a backpack are often used to reduce the volume of a pack’s contents, thereby reducing its weight. Compression straps are commonly used for books as they provide a place for them to sit when not in use or to prevent them from shifting around during travel.

How to choose a backpack for trekking: Other features

Weather-resistant

Your pack must be weather resistant. An excellent waterproof pack will protect your belongings and prevent them from getting wet while hiking in the rain. It would help if you got a durable waterproof pack that will last you for years of use. These packs have a solid construction and should stand up to the test of time.

Hydration Reservoir

The Hydration Reservoir is a small, lightweight, durable, and refillable water bottle. The company’s primary market is athletes, but they have also found success with outdoor enthusiasts, college students, and people who want to get more water to go with their protein shakes or other drinks.

Often, backpack manufacturers will include a hydration bladder as part of the backpacking system. It is a small, lightweight plastic container with a tube attached to it, usually with one valve on end. It allows for easy access to your drink while hiking and camping. The bladder can be filled with whatever liquid you want, such as water, soda, or even coffee or tea.

Locking mechanism

When you purchase a hiking or backpacking backpack, you need to consider one more thing: your belongings’ safety. It would be best if you found a backpack that has a locking mechanism. Some backpacks have zippers with locks, or if you’re looking for something simpler, there are magnetic clips used to keep your belongings intact.

How to choose a backpack for trekking: Fit

The fit of the backpack is a critical factor to consider. You need to make sure that the backpack is comfortable and that it fits nicely around your body. Comfort depends on the proper adjustment of all shoulder straps, hip belts, and chest straps. The padding of all these components should be thick enough for better carrying comfort.

Backpacks are not one-size-fits-all. There are a variety of different types of backpacks to fit a variety of different needs. The best way to find the perfect backpack is first to figure out your torso length and waist size.
You can get backpacks with adjustable suspension, which lets you modify its harness to fit your torso.
In the case of the waist size, our hips carry most of the backpack’s weight. Some people have a smaller waist which makes it a problem to adjust the hipbelt. Make sure to measure the straps and get one that complements your body type.
You can also get backpacks that are specifically made for women and the types of activities.
Plus, you can keep your backpack comfortable enough to carry by distributing the weight of the items inside evenly

How to choose a backpack for trekking: Cost

In the end, it comes down to the cost of the backpacks. Expensive backpacks are not always the best and the most comfortable ones.
A mid-ranged backpack can also have more features than costly ones.
Hard-wearing nylon backpacks are costlier than polyester ones.

Thus, this is how to choose a backpack for trekking. And, remember to clean it after your trip so that your backpacks last longer.

Also, read how to wash your backpacks after a trek.

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