Buying The Right Backpack

Backpacking Tips Part 2

A backpack is obviously the most important piece of equipment of your backpacking gear.  Choosing the right backpack is probably the most crucial part in preparing to go out into the outdoors. If you are planning on going on a weeklong backpacking excursion you will obviously need a different backpack than if you are the type of person that likes to plan an overnighter every weekend. The following is a breakdown that will help you choosing the best backpack for you.

Types of Backpacks

Daypack: a daypack is a light daypack that is similar to a normal backpack that you had/have for school with some cool new benefits! When purchasing a daypack look for the following features:

  • Padded back for extra comfort
  • Weight Belt: helps keep the weight off your back!
  • Internal frame: holds pack away from your back – which will keep your back cool and prevent excessive sweating.
  • Hydration Bladder: I feel this is essential in all packs regardless of the amount of time you spend in the wilderness.

External Frame Backpacks

  • The backpack frame is, as it says, external. The Frame is usually made from aluminum and allows you to strap your gear (i.e. sleeping bag, Tent, Sleeping Pad, etc.) to the frame.
    • External frames are lightweight and very strong
    • External frame backpacks are usually cheaper than internal frames.
    • External Frame backpacks carry weight up high on the shoulders
    • Good ventilation between your back and the pack
    • In general can have more pockets to keep your gear separated
  • If you are a hunter or photography and you like to use a tree stand an external frame will be a great benefit to you by allowing you to strap your tree stand to the external frame itself. 

Internal Frame Backpacks

  • An internal frame backpack has a strong frame as does the external, however, the frame is inside the backpack – obviously.
    • Older models of internal frame backpacks have the tendency of resting on your back not giving much room for ventilation. Newer models, especially those made for hunters, are now created with a ventilation space between the back and the pack.
    • Like the daypack, there is more padding and support .
    • The internal frame pack seems to be preferred by women; however, I believe it is becoming the more popular pack for all backpackers.
    • An internal frame backpack is plenty big enough for you to carry all of your required gear inside.

The Belt Bag

  • That is right, the dreaded looking belt bag! It may not be the most fashionable thing to wear, but who cares. I promise you will be glad to have it. A belt bag is something that you will be surprised by how much you use it both during a day hike and during a weeklong wilderness hiatus.  
  • Some reasons why you will need a belt bag are for easy access of certain things you will likely need during your hike such as:
    • Camera
    • Power bar
    • First aid
    • Compass
    • GPS
    • Trail Map
    • Pepper Spray (for bears)
    • Two-way radio
    • Pocket knife
    • Sun block
    • Sunglasses
    • Water bottle
    • Whistle

Costs of Backpacks

Costs can vary from $50.00 on to nearly $500.00. It just depends on what kind of wear and tear you plan to put on your equipment and choose from there. I recommend going to a camping store near you and try a few different brands on to see how they feel. I would then recommend going to and buying your backpack there. It always seems to be cheaper!

Final Advice

If you are planning on going on a multiple day backpacking trip, I recommend getting a backpack that has at least 4500 cubic square inches and a hydration bladder. More often than not, the bladder will be sold separately.