How to choose a hiking backpack

Not all trekking backpacks are the same, but to choose the right one you just need to be clear about the use you want to make of them and keep in mind all the specifics that can make the difference, such as the capacity, the shoulder straps, the backrest.

The trekking backpack: a faithful travel companion

Whether you are leaving for a day trip, a weekend at high altitude or an alpine expedition, your backpack will be much more than just a storage container. If you have chosen it with criteria, its shape, its capacity, its characteristics can be very useful during the trekking. On the contrary, you may have to deal with an extra weight. And not only in terms of kg.

As for the, the market offers hundreds of models of backpacks, different in color, shape and size. But be careful, appearance is not everything. When choosing a hiking backpack, you have to pay more attention to functionality than to aesthetics. So here are the features you need to pay attention to:

  • the size (i.e. the capacity);
  • the backrest;
  • the shoulder straps;
  • laces and zippers (different depending on the use you make of the backpack).
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Types and characteristics of trekking backpacks

Let’s start with the smallest and lightest models, perfect for day trips. They have a minimum capacity, from 10 to 20 liters, are made of lightweight materials, even if robust. They are perfect to contain the necessary for a few hours of trekking: a windproof, a change, any supplies (a sandwich, fruit, energy bars), personal effects. They are often equipped with pockets, even external, useful for storing, for example, the water bottle. Check that these pockets are functional, easy to open, that they allow you to have everything at hand when you need it, without unnecessary traffic.

Some backpacks are equipped with the Camelbak, the water pocket with built-in straw, which allows you to drink directly without removing the backpack from your shoulders. Very useful if you are a trail runner during races and gli, but certainly not essential for trekking.

Even if the backpacks are small and light, don’t forget to fasten the belt on your abdomen: it will give the backpack greater stability and make it easier for you to trek. As for the backrest, make sure it is breathable, for greater comfort on the back. Some models have a rigid structure that allows the backpack to remain detached from the back to allow the passage of air and avoid the accumulation of heat and moisture. Consider this option carefully, as the structure may increase the weight of the backpack.

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Comfort and functionality are required for medium to long excursions

For excursions of at least two or three days you will need different backpacks. They are not only larger (from 30 litres upwards), but also more robust. If you have to spend the night outside – in a tent, in a refuge, in a hostel – you will need to bring with you the necessary equipment, whether it be a tent or even just a sleeping bag. In addition to that, if necessary, to prepare food, such as crockery or gas stove.

When increasing the weight and size of a trekking backpack, you should pay particular attention to the backrest, which must be strong and ergonomic, so as not to strain your back too much under the weight of the equipment. Also essential is the belt to tie at the waist, strong and always keep fastened, not only for stability (even more important in this case) but also to unload the weight of the backpack and make sure that it does not only weigh on the shoulders. Once fastened, adjust it so that it is to measure.

In general, when you have to choose a hiking backpack for multi-day excursions, check that it has enough straps and buckles to be adjusted to your needs. If there are too many, ask yourself a few questions: they should make it easier for you, not hinder you.

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For long excursions (30 litres), pay attention to the backrest and the weight-relieving straps
A trekking backpack suitable for every eventuality

What to do if you are undecided about the duration of the excursion? Or if – depending on the period, the season or the company – you want to be able to choose between a few hours’ excursion or a weekend in a tent? Ideally, you should have two backpacks of two different sizes, so that you can alternate them according to your needs. However, it is not always possible.

To save money, expandable backpacks with hinges can be a good compromise: with a simple gesture you can adapt your backpack to different capacities. In this case, however, you have to be careful about quality. Make sure that it is sturdy, that the hinges are functional, otherwise at the first excursion you may have problems and find yourself with a hiking backpack unusable or impractical. Maybe to replace. And then, much better, goodbye saving.

Trekking backpacks, Tip & Tricks

For longer hikes you will need different equipment and more than one change. Divide your equipment and clothing into individual plastic bags. Each group of items will be separated from the others and it will be easier for you to find them in your backpack, even if they are on the bottom. Trekking backpacks, with double zips, one at the top and one at the bottom, will make the task even easier. Plastic bags will then protect your clothing (which we recommend you put in the lower part of your backpack) in the event of rain.

A cover sheet is always advisable, especially for multi-day trekking. No matter how waterproof, no backpack can guarantee that the contents will remain dry after hours of heavy rain. On the market there are covers for a few euros, are lightweight and folded into bags, so they take up very little space and can also be hooked to the outside of the backpack.

The heavier the backpack, the more important it is that it is firm and stable, adherent to the back and chest. Any rebound or oscillation movement will only complicate your excursion: you will be more tired and there will be a greater risk of losing your balance. This is not recommended in the mountains. So, before you go, make sure that the backpack is firmly on your shoulders and around your chest.

As for the weight of the backpack, remember that, as a rule, it should never exceed 10% of its weight: for example, for a man of 70 kg should not weigh more than 7 kg, for a woman a little less, but much depends on the level of training and physical structure. Some brands, among other things, have distinguished trekking backpacks into male and female models. A plus not to be underestimated. Translated with (free version)

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Beware of weight, which should never exceed 10% of your body weight
In general, however, try to optimize the weight of the backpack (or, better, its contents). Take the essentials with you and leave the surplus at home. Make a list of what you really need and stick to it.Pockets and external hooks are very useful to keep some objects out of the backpack (sticks, water bottles, cameras) but keep in mind that the less hanging objects you have, the less tiring it will be to walk.

It is true that the cost of an object is not always directly proportional to its quality, but it is also true that when it comes to technical materials, which must be performing and functional, the quality can not be cheap. And quality in the mountains is what makes the difference in terms of comfort, functionality and, above all, safety.

On the subject of safety, whatever your mountain programme, don’t forget to bring a GPS for trekking and a . For all eventualities.


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