Choosing the Right Backpack

We’ve certainly had a share of backpacks! When still in high School I started with an REI external pack. I wore it on many trips. I even took it on a semi-climbing trip to Zion. Talk about work!

Soon I discovered internal packs and didn’t look back. While I know Externals can still be a good choice depending on the terrain and desired weight, now I lean more towards the lightweight internals. I guess age has caught up with me.

For day hikes, I really prefer packs in the 2000-3000 cubic inch size range with a heavy zippered entry. I also really prefer to have a drinking bladder inside my pack. I’ve done the water bottle only method due to a leaky bladder and swore I wouldn’t go back. However I ultimately came around and decided that having a Camelbak ┬ábeats bottles any day. I’ve also tried stashing them on the outside, but you’ll get too many snags doing that.

The most important consideration is what are you planning on doing? For long backpacks (which are a┬árarity for most people) – something in the size of 4000-6000 cubic inches will be what you’re after. For short backpacks – 4 days or less anything in the 3000-4000 range will work. It depends on how light/small your tent and sleeping bag and other essentials are. For short days trips, something in the 1500-2000 range will work good for most.

Access is another consideration and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Although I have a top-loader lightweight from Mountainsmith that is my pack of choice, having a side access zipper or a panel zip is really handy – even for smaller daypacks. It’s a real pain to dig through piles of gear to get that bar at the bottom of your pack. That said – I love how lightweight my Mountainsmith is, but would probably trade it for a similar pack with zipper access.

You’ll of course want to consider price – but I’m a firm believer that you’ll get what you pay for. I’ve had enough packs fall apart that spending that extra $100 to get a solid pack in both performance and durability is worth every penny.

Check out these great packs:

Osprey Packs Argon 70 Backpack – 4300-4700cu in Delta Blue, L

Gregory Petit Dru Pro 85 – Women’s – 4400-5700cu in Navy Blue, L

Osprey Packs Aether 85 Backpack – 5000-5400 cu in Magma Orange, S

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