The Guide to Buying the Correct Hiking Backpack
Your hiking backpack is essential to your hike. It should be one of the first pieces of gear you consider when preparing for your hike. You will be carrying this backpack for hours at any given time. It is imperative that you chose the correct pack. The top of the line backpacks are pricey but it will be a worth while investment that will last you for years to come.
The Adventure Junkie goal is to make the common hiker's life easier when purchasing your hiking gear. Adventure Junkie has put together the main components to consider when buying your hiking pack to help you filter through the process. The considerations are in accordance with fifty to eighty liter packs for multiple days of hiking.
First you need to consider your trip length. This will in turn help you figure out the volume capacity needed in your backpack for the trek. The longer you spend out on a hike the bigger size backpack you will need. Each pack is sized by volume and measured in liters. For example, a weekend trip that would last a night or two - you will need a 30 - 50 liter pack. A three to five night trip would call for a 50 - 80 liter pack. The season of you hike also matters because if it is winter time then you will need to have more room to pack extra layers as well as a sleeping bag and blankets.
Next you will want to consider your torso length. Your torso length will determine the size of your backpack in terms of small, medium, large or extra large. Your torso length factors in larger than your height. In order to determine your torso length you will need a flexible tape measure and a companion. You will then need to tilt your head to the from and find your C7 vertebra. (the bone that sticks out of the back of your neck) The C7 vertebra will mark the top of your torso length and the bottom will be your hip bones. Most backpacks are measured as the following - XS 15.5 inches, S 16 - 17.5 inches, M 18 - 19.5 inches, and L 20 inches and over.
Lastly consider the weight of your backpack itself. Do not be overly conservative though. For instance, I once purchased an ultra light hiking backpack in order to cut a few pounds out for an over night hike. The extremely thin stapes cut into my skin and the frame creaked from the material it was made out of. Both are extremely annoying when hiking for hours. Needless to say the pack was returned and the few pounds saved was not worth it.