It’s been said before, but we’ll say it again: there’s no one size fits all. What you need and want from a daypack is miles away from what you need from a long-distance trekking pack. So how do you choose?
Start by asking yourself how long you’ll be away for and whether you need to carry stuff like food and a tent? Our rule of thumb is around 20-40ltrs for day trips or overnight cabin trips; 40-60ltrs for multi-night trips without a tent and loads of food; and 60+ltrs for longer adventures when you need space for a tent, several meals and cooking equipment. And bear in mind, if you take a really big pack on a short trip you’ll end up filling it with things you don’t need.
We have backpacks designed for men and women. This is because of anatomical differences in our body shapes. These differences are most prominent in the hips and shoulders, and also in back length. But these measurements also vary a lot within the sexes. So look for a backpack that can be adjusted in length, shoulder and hip width. A good fit, with a hip-hugging strap will ensure it’s not your back and shoulders, but your legs that take most of the weight.
Once you’ve found the right fit, you then need to look at the details including the ventilation system. Hiking many kilometres along undulating terrain is a real workout, so you will sweat. There’s no escaping that. But by choosing the right pack, you can minimise unnecessary sweating on your back. A frame backpack offers great support, you can generally carry heavier loads and you get better ventilation. Alternatively, a mesh or ventilation panel will help air flow between your pack and your back giving you a cooler carrying experience.
Other things to look for include a chest strap, this helps move your centre of gravity forward; a top strap which adjusts the pack’s angle to your shoulders; and side straps that stabilise the hip belt and pull the pack closer to your body for a snugger fit. And finally, look for internal and external pockets that make sorting your gear easier to give you quick access to exactly what you’re looking for.