How to choose your camping backpack
The first basic differentiation between yor choices of camping backpacks is between two basic styles of backpacks -
Furthermore your choice of the best backpack for hiking should be determined by whether you will require a -
You will need a multi day pack when you plan to do a trip of between 2 to 4 days in fairly moderate weather conditions.
These backpacks will typically have a load capacity of between 40 to 75 liters for men, and 40 to 65 for women.
For extended trips that are likely to last more than 4 days the average backpacker will probably need a pack capacity of 65 liters or more.
Ultralight Backpacks are designed for low weight and minimal bulk.
Backpack review tips
Choose between an internal or external frame backpack
What is the purpose of the frame in a backpack?
The role of the camping backpack frame is to transfer most of the weight of your gear from your shoulders to your hips.
The ideal weight distribution is that 70 to 80 percent of this weight should be on your hips and 20 to 30 percent on your shoulders.
Because this lowers your point of gravity, it will mean that you become more stable.
What are the advantages of internal frame backpacks?
You will notice that internal frame backpacks have a more streamlined shape because the flexible frame is inside the pack.
One benefit of internal frame backpacks is the fact that they keep your pack more stable.
The fact that they are closer to your body means that they provide you with more balance when you negotiate unpredictable terrain and are busy ducking and weaving through trees.
This makes internal frame backpacks your ideal choice when you backpack off trail or when you do some rock scrambling or mountaineering.
These packs are also easier to travel with.
Are there any disadvantages with internal frame backpacks?
Yes there are a few relatively minor drawbacks.
One of them is that these packs fit directly against your entire back. This means that they get hot and back perspiration can be a problem as a result.
Another drawback is that you cannot put much gear on the outside of the camping backpack.
That will mean that the carrying capacity of the pack is really limited to its internal volume. This will typically range from 49 to 122 liters of capacity.
Internal backpacks tend to also be more expensive than external frame backpacks.
External-frame packs are very good at transporting big, heavy and awkward loads. For instance, strapping on your tired child's backpack.
We discuss external frame backpacks in more detail elsewhere.
Choose the right backpack size
In order to assess what camping backpack size you need you firstly have to know how many days your typical backpacking trip will be. Obviously the longer your backpack trip the more packing capacity you will need.
If you plan to backpack during the colder time of the year, you will need a larger capacity backpack.
This is because the camping backpack needs to accommodate extra clothing, a warmer sleeping bag and possibly a heavier tent with extra poles.
Determine how much room you will need for your backpacking gear
If you have already own all your backpacking gear you will select a pack that can accommodate your current gear.
As a typical backpacker gains outdoor experience they tend to learn how pack lighter gear that is more space-efficient in the pack. They will for example replace a synthetic sleeping bag with a lighter down model and so learn to travel lighter
What is the minimum gear I need to carry in a camping backpack?
The minimum items you should consider when you consider plan your safety and basic comfort requirements will at least include:
For a more extensive list of possible backpacking gear you can have a look at our backpacking checklist. This list is very detailed and merely a reference point for when you plan a longer trip.
Your approach to backpacking will also impact the size of your backpack.
If you are an ultra light backpacker you specifically choose to give up some conveniences in order to minimize their pack weight.
You will look for gear that offers the minimum features you need that is also innovatively designed to reduce weight.
When you do not mind carrying a bit more weight you pack gear that will optimize your convenience and comfort.
The tradeoff for this is that you are prepared to carry more weight in your backpack.
Joanne Cramer is a surfer, tattoo addict, ukulelist, Saul Bass fan and independent Art Director at Student Questions platform. Producing at the sweet spot between art and purpose to answer design problems with honest solutions.