Backpacks 101: Your Guide To Finding The Perfect Backpack
More than just a simple bag, for many outdoor adventurers, travellers, and commuters, backpacks are an essential lifeline. Whether you’re a wild camper carrying your accommodation and survival kit in your pack or a photographer carrying fragile and valuable equipment, a backpack must have the capacity, function, and strength to meet your individual needs.
Thankfully, backpacks come in a broad range of sizes and shapes, offering different features such as adjustable toggles, added pockets, waterproofing, back and shoulder support, and even charging ports for electronics. While many of these features sound attractive, they are not always necessary for everyone - when identifying what type of backpack to invest in, it’s important to consider the unique demands of your journey and how the pack can best serve you.
To help you choose the ideal backpack, our experienced team of adventurers have collated their best tips on what to consider, along with answers to commonly asked questions around backpacks.
How should a backpack fit?
No matter what you’re carrying, be it a laptop and water bottle while commuting or a week’s worth of camping gear, it’s critical that your backpack fits you in the right way. Backpacks are often worn every day, sometimes for several hours at a time, so for your comfort and safety, it’s best to ensure you have the right fit. Here’s how to narrow down an ideal pack for you:
Measure your torso:
Achieving the right fit is fairly simple, however, it does require a little preparation. Generally, the size of your pack should roughly match the size of your torso, so taking time to measure is important.
Measure from the bump at the base of your neck (the C7) to the top of the hips (the iliac crest) with a soft tape measure – this will give you a good idea of what size to go for.
Adjust and check the shoulders and hips:
Once you choose a backpack that is suitable in size, you’ll then want to experiment with adjustments to ensure that the bag fits you well. This is particularly important if you require a hiking or trekking backpack with heavier loads. Here are a few checks to make to ensure you protect yourself from injury and avoid excessive fatigue or discomfort when carrying your pack:
- Check that the shoulder straps comfortably hug the shoulder from front to back, with the strap ending near the top of the shoulder blade
- Ensure the hip belt sits 1-2 inches above the hip bones, applying equal weight across the belt
- Make sure the majority of the weight does not sit on the shoulders - if excessive weight is felt at the top of the bag, adjust the straps accordingly to transfer weight to the hip belt
Depending on how complex your bag might be, there may be several additional adjustments and checks to make before choosing your bag.
Don’t overdo it
In the world of backpacks, bigger isn’t always better. Both weight and size play an important role in preventing injury and ensuring you keep comfortable, so it’s important to measure and take care not to overload your bag.
Understanding backpack sizes – litres
When looking for the ideal backpack, you’ll likely come across several units/indicators of measurement. This may include standard measurements like small, medium, and large, as well as length and width measurements in centimetres and inches.
However, as our backpacks are designed to be filled with our essentials, you’ll also come across the measurement to indicate volume, which is litres. Simply put, measuring in litres is the most accurate way to demonstrate how much we can fit in our backpacks. However, it can be tricky to know just how big a given backpack is just from the literage.
How big is a 20L backpack?
A 20L backpack will be your standard daypack size, ideal for city days out, commuting to work, or as an alternative to a handbag. You should be able to comfortably carry a smaller sized laptop, a water flask, and a few other essentials.
How big is a 40L backpack?
A 40-50L backpack is great for hiking and trekking for 1-2 days or a short camping break. It should be able to carry (or have the external fixtures to accommodate) all the core essentials including clothes, food, and even a compact tent.
How big is a 60L backpack?
60L backpacks, particularly those designed for longer outdoor adventures should be able to hold the essentials for a safe and comfortable trek or camping trip that lasts several days. Often built to carry cookware, flasks, tents, sleeping bags, walking boots and more, these robust and spacious bags are for serious trekkers and campers who love a big adventure.
Undoubtedly, when it comes to getting out in the great outdoors, few things are as essential and useful as a backpack. When choosing your next bag, always consider how your backpack can best serve you, be it on your commute or the hiking trail. Measure for an ideal fit and do a little extra research around your unique bag type to protect yourself from injury and discomfort. With the right preparation, you’ll have a far better chance of finding the ideal backpack for you.