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How to choose the trekking backpack to go walking in the mountains

Choosing the ideal trekking backpack to go walking in the mountains or to do the Camino de Santiago is not just a matter of identifying the best brands: there are many backpack models for hiking and for finding the best backpack for your needs first of all carefully evaluate the use that you want to do and the season in which it will be used.

A backpack for simple walks in the summer can (and must) have different characteristics than a backpack for big walks like the Via Francigena; a backpack to be used in winter with snow must contain more material and have waterproof qualities even higher than a backpack intended for summer use.

So let's see, based on the use that you think to make of the backpack, the characteristics to be evaluated before proceeding with the purchase.

How many liters must contain a hiking backpack?

The capacity of a backpack is measured in liters, but then inside a backpack for hiking there must be clothes, food, technological objects, maps, camping equipment and everything you need for every eventuality: the volume of all these objects do not It is measured in liters, from which the difficulty, for those who must buy the first backpack, to evaluate the right capacity of a backpack suitable for their needs.

Ideally a backpack for day trips can not exceed 35 liters of capacity: a 15-20 liter backpack is fine for a short walk without too much effort; from 20 to 30 liters it is a backpack where you can comfortably place everything you need during a day trip (water, food, rain jacket, a guide or a book); a 35-liter backpack can be used if, in addition to transporting the necessary equipment for itself, you must also think about children, who always have some extra needs.

For excursions and walks of several days that provide accommodation in shelters or other accommodation facilities the ideal volume of the backpack should go from 35 to 60 liters: in these cases it is necessary to bring spare clothes, spare shoes, the necessary for the night and the awakening and everything needed to stay out of cases two or more days.

If you choose to camp or camp out in total autonomy, you certainly need an XXL backpack of over 60 liters: although the tendency to reduce weight and size is able to work miracles, a tent, sleeping bag, stove and necessary to prepare a meal , stocks of food or water as well as what is already listed above are all objects that occupy space.

Having the right trekking backpack is essential for hikers

What shape should a backpack have for hiking?

Trekking backpacks are essentially of a slightly squared or more rectangular and elongated shape. For simple walks on tourist trails or hiking (marked with T or E: here the guide to the scale of difficulty of the paths) can also fit a backpack of more compact form. If, on the other hand, impervious paths are foreseen, in the thick vegetation, or via ferratas or traits for expert excursionists, it is advisable to have a tapered backpack that develops vertically: this reduces the likelihood of imbalance as well as being entangled in branches or bushes.

It is also important to know that almost all the manufacturers of technical backpacks now include both the men's and women's models, taking into account the different physical conformation: the circumference of the pelvis, the shape of the shoulder straps and the size of the backrest above all.

For the same reason, you should also carefully consider the length, width and layout of the shoulder straps: once you have found that they are padded and adjustable (here the guide on how to properly wear and adjust the backpack) must also comfortably dress over the clavicles. The chest strap is useful to prevent the shoulder straps from slipping to the outside, and for large backpacks, over 40 liters, it is appropriate to make sure that there are also straps for the load recall: these are the two buckles that are between the upper part of the shoulder straps and the actual compartment of the backpack and can be adjusted, 'unloading' the pressure of the load from the shoulders

Does the hiking backpack have a waistband?

Yes, especially for backpacks from 30 liters up is essential the presence of the waistband: if adjusted properly by placing it on the hips allows you to unload the weight of the backpack on the legs instead of shoulders, significantly reducing the fatigue of shoulders and back. Even in this case, as for the shoulder straps, it is good that the waistband is padded: once it was a simple strip of resistant fabric, and was used only to keep the backpack on his back, now is a real point of ' load support and must not disturb during the journey.
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Should the hiking backpack have external pockets?

Yes, certainly yes. Because there are small objects that would otherwise be lost in the main compartment; because there are objects of frequent use (typically: the water bottle or hot drink) that must remain within reach; because there are delicate objects that it is better to always have an eye on (all the technological gadgets for example); and because the pockets can help to better balance the load (here the guide on how to fill the backpack for an excursion).

Also: better several small or medium-sized external pockets rather than a single large pocket outside the main compartment, again as a matter of load balance; in large backpacks it is also good that the central compartment is divided into two or more compartments, accessible independently from the outside, to divide the material according to weight or use; and always in backpacks of medium-large size external laces are useful to ensure the loads that are normally outside: each has its own specific function, in particular the very technical backpacks such as climbing or ski mountaineering, and it is always useful to ask the shopkeeper their purpose.

Some backpacks also provide the presence of the so-called 'camel bag', or the pocket for water with a straw that comes close to the face: they are normally backpacks for specific uses, for example for trail running.

Finally, the best quality backpacks also include a pocket with built-in rain cover: it is a waterproof hood that takes off and covers the entire backpack, fastening with an elastic band on the edge, preventing the rain from wetting the fabric.

After evaluating all these features, it is now possible to proceed with the purchase, saving both time and money.

Should the back of the backpack be padded?

No, on the contrary: the problem of the back is not that it should be stuffed but that allows the air to pass (something that a fully upholstered backrest would not allow). Once the solution was a rigid metal structure that distanced the backpack from the back: today there are different solutions, from those in non-deformable plastic material to the areas of support slightly raised, and there are also backpacks that provide a perforated net that rests on the back distancing the load from the body, allowing perspiration to perspire. The best quality backpacks also provide the ability to adjust the backrest height, thus adapting to people of different heights: this is also a detail to be assessed in the case of height outside the average.

How to make the backpack really waterproof ?

The backpacks are not perfectly waterproof and inevitably, in the summer for a rainstorm, in autumn or winter for rain and snow, they allow moisture or water to pass, with the risk of wetting what is inside them. Of course, all backpacks have undergone DWR treatments, which at least when they are new should ensure watertightness. But then the use, the continuous rubbing, the fact of throwing them on the ground on stones and stones, and even the wrong washings with aggressive detergents consume this protective film, letting damp and water enter into them.

Buy a liner or use a rain cover

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It is one of the simplest and practical tricks that often backpackers always put in place when preparing the backpack: divide the things to be transported by type (the intimate on one side, second and third layers from another, documents and technology such as chargers, telephones, cameras and GPS in another, and so on) and then bag each type by grouping the items in a waterproof bag: you can also use plastic bags with watertight closure (such as those of the exchange seasonal in the closet or to freeze food, and there are also sizes suitable for a mountain backpack or travel) or buy the so-called inner bag or liner: they are small bags, of variable litrage, made of 100% waterproof material, with taped seams and often with a sealing system of those that are rolled up allowing also to empty the bag from the air.

The Rain cover It is the opposite system to the liner system: in this case it is a matter of providing the backpack with an external rain cover bag. Some backpacks, the best and most technical, are already equipped with them, and normally you find it at the base of the bag so you can take it out and cover your backpack when you need it. If the backpack is not equipped, not even as an accessory, you can buy separately, even later: almost all the outdoor brands have them in the catalog, are in waterproof fabric, often with an elastic finish to better adhere to the shape of the backpack, with different shapes and litros.

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Choose backpacks with the waterproof membrane

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Finally there are backpacks that in addition to using the DWR treatment are made of waterproof membranes: for example the OutDry, which compared to other waterproof and breathable membranes has the distinction of being able to stay outside the fabric and that has been used by Ferrino for the Ultimate 38 model, a mountaineering backpack completely covered with OutDry membrane and with a watertight closing system that makes it 100% waterproof in all conditions of water, snow or humidity.

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