Buying a backpack should be easy, but there are several factors to consider when purchasing a reliable backpack that will last for years to come. Buying the wrong one will cause frustration, but taking the time to do a little research first can alleviate that possibility.
The first thing to consider is what your intended use is to be. Hiking and camping backpacks will differ from those used for school or work. Having a preliminary budget in mind can also assist with the process. After those questions are answered, consider the following.
Over-packing can be a problem with a backpacking pack. Carrying too much in your pack can be a problem for the health of your back. If you are planning on using your pack for long hikes, overnight camping or for carrying heavy textbooks, you will want to look for the lightest but sturdiest pack you can find. You do not want to add any extra weight on top of the load you will be carrying. It is suggested that you carry no more than 15% of your body weight.
The next thing to consider is the backpack construction. Buying one too light might feel better for your back but if it wears out quickly nothing much has been gained. For heavy loads, look at the inside frame. Can it carry what you need it to carry? Does the material look like it will tear easily or will it withstand the amount of use you plan to administer? Are the zippers secure and durable? Are the straps padded for a bit of comfort, especially if you will be carrying it over long periods? Basically you want to look for sturdy construction without completely ruining your budget.
There are two types of materials you may want to look for. Cuben fiber is a much lighter fiber and is durable but can be a lot more expensive. Ripstop nylon is another material you may encounter. Ripstop is a heavier material that can be a little more cost-effective.
Next, you need to know the volume of the items you will be carrying. Be realistic about what you need and how much room those items will take up. Buying a backpacking pack that is too small will only lead to frustration as well as time and money wasted. Calculate how long your hike will be, how many and what supplies you will need or how many textbooks will you be carrying along with notebooks. Think about what extra items you might need to carry such as first aid kits, water or school or work supplies. Thinking of the load ahead of time will help your overall purchasing process.
An important consideration is the pack’s overall size and weight. You have determined what you need to carry, now make sure you think of your body. Correctly measuring your pack can prevent any pain or damage to your body. Since most backpacking packs come in different lengths, you will want to purchase one that is the closest length to your back length. The weight of the pack should comfortably lay on your hips and not your back. To get a correct fitting, you should measure your torso beginning at the base of the neck and continue down to the small of your back. Many packs are adjustable so be sure to take that into consideration.
Taking some time to think about what you really need will help you make a purchase that will stay with you for a long time.