Choosing The Right Backpack
Whether you are filling your day sack with all the books you will need for that joyous double maths session, heading off for a stroll in the hills or walking the west highland way, Webtogs has the right backpack for you.
Trying Backpacks Out
Cost – Next to your boots, what you carry your gear in during the day will have the greatest impact on how comfortable you feel whilst out and about. Get your choice of pack wrong, and you risk doing damage to yourself in a no fun way and, get the dreaded chafe. It is worth spending a reasonable amount of money to ensure your comfort. You can repair many things on the hill but the hardest thing to repair will be your backpack so you want to ensure that it’s not going to fail you.
Fit – The good news is that there is a wide range of both fits and back system out there now. Our top tip would be once you have been through the process of working out what you are going to be doing with you pack, order the one that best suits your needs. Once you get it home, before you snap those shiny tags off, shove a bit of weight in there and head up and down your stairs. Shuffle that toosh and see how comfortable it feels on your back. Does it feel stable? Is anything digging in? Does the hip belt feel too soft or too hard? If it feels great – fantastic, if it doesn’t, take a look at what else Webtogs has in store and use our ZERO Hassle Returns Policy to send it back.
How Big Should My Backpack Be?
Unfortunately there is no such thing as the magic bag which is all things to all men. You won’t be able to trek the Pennine way with a day sack and likewise taking a 20 minute walk with an expedition bag is probably overkill and will most likely leave you looking like a prime banana. So what sort or size sack should you have for each activity? These are our guides below.
- 20 Litres – Daypack, good for a stroll to keep your waterproofs, lunch and a few other bits and bobs.
- 20 – 30 litres – Again daypack territory but useful to have the increased volume if you have a bladder.
- 35 – 45 litres – Winter walking
- 45 – 55 litres – Lightweight camping
- 60 – 75 litres – Backpacking
Bear in mind that someone’s idea of what lightweight means is another person’s full pack so these are offered as a guide only!
What To Look Out For In A Backpack
Material – Backpacks are made out of a variety of materials, usually nylon or polyester, but generally speaking you have as with everything in life, a ying and a yang. The heavier the material, the more durable and rugged your pack will be, but the more weight you will be carrying. If you are climbing or scrambling, its worth looking at packs that will fit this criteria as you will get some abrasion out on the hill. On the other hand, if all you will be doing is strolling, you can look at some of the more lightweight packs. The lighter the pack, the easier, quicker and faster you can travel As with all packs, never rely on them to provide any kind of waterproofing, always use a rucksack liner!
Waist belt / Chest strap – Most people when they look at a rucksack for the first time might guess that the weight is mainly taken on the shoulders. You only have to have had travelled for a day with a pack without a waistbelt to realise however that it is the waistbelt that takes the strain. Your shoulder straps should be taking around 25% with the waistbelt taking 75%. Things to look out for are that they are not too stiff (uncomfortable and chafing) or too soft (no support). The hipbelt should be level with or resting just on top of the hips for them to be taking the load successfully. The chest strap on the other hand takes no weight but does it’s best to keep your shoulder straps in the right position.
Sections – The large benefit of having two sections is to keep wet and dry kit separate, or alternatively on big treks to have your sleeping stuff in the bottom and the rest in the top. Overall two sections are better as it means you can access your gear a lot quicker than with one.
Pockets & Loops – Most bags will have a main compartment or two supplemented by various pockets and loops. Additional pockets are extremely useful for accessing your gear without having to empty your bag on the hill to get that mars bar lying crushed at the bottom of your sack (and watch it disappear downwards if you are anywhere steep!). A top pocket is probably best for keeping all your gear you may need quick access to out on the hill. Some bags also have side pockets, however, if you are doing any activity where you are moving your arms a lot such as climbing or perhaps cycling, they can be more of a hindrance than a help as they could get in the way. You can also have wand pockets on the sides, very useful for carrying tent poles or having easy access to any walking poles you may have. Alternatives for walking poles or ice axes are loops on the outside. One last thing – if you have a bladder, ensure that your prospective pack has a hydration pocket inside! All of these can be useful if you are going to be carrying these pieces of equipment; if you aren’t then they aren’t essential and will only add extra weight to your pack.
Back systems – Essentially there are three types of back systems, adjustable, fixed and gender specific. Fixed does exactly what it says on the tin, you cannot change it. Some manufacturers will have different versions of the same pack that will enable you to get the right size backpack for your height. The second sort is adjustable and that is where you tighten or lengthen the harness to ensure a good fit to your back. Finally, most sacks would previously have had a single fit for men, but increasing numbers of manufacturers are seeing the light and are bringing out versions for women that are designed around the female frame. These are more comfortable for women, but, do not rule out standard fits as dependent on the rucksack and your build, these can still fit well.
Compression – On larger bags compression straps are darn near essential. They squeeze all your gear so it is snug and even against your back and not rattling around like a greasy burger in the bottom of an empty stomach. They ensure your load stays stable against your back and isn’t all over the place.
This is just our guide but we know that with the range of backpacks we have, buying a backpack can still be a daunting business. If you are still deliberating, E mail us with any questions you might have, we’ll do our darnedest to match you up with the pack that’s right for you, and ensure that you and your back have happy a yomp.