Choose a Hiking Backpack Right for You

October 30, 2012 by

Hiking Backpacks

With so many types of hiking backpacks on the market, it can be mind boggling trying to sift through all the hype to get to the nitty-gritty. Which one will work best for you?

Fit is important for comfort.

Right Size Offers Better Fit

When it comes to hiking backpacks, bigger is not necessarily better. A larger backpack may carry more gear, but will be more difficult to balance if it doesn’t fit your gear.

At the other end of the spectrum, buying a pack that is too small doesn’t work either because you’ll end up carrying the things that don’t fit.

An ill-fitting pack will rob you of opportunities to enjoy your surroundings. Don’t waste time adjusting straps or re-arranging gear while your friends are taking pictures. Instead, get a backpack that fits.

When you get your new backpack home, one of the first things to do is fill it with the clothing and gear you’ll be taking with you. Then try it on for fit. Leave it on as you walk around the house for about 15-20 minutes to check how comfortable it really is. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, return it.


An adjustable-fit backpack works best if you plan to share the job of shouldering the pack with someone else. An adjustable hiking backpack is also a good choice for teens who are still growing because they are designed to adjust to various torso lengths. Some packs even allow adjustment while being worn.

The Right Fabric

Ultralight backpacks are great for open trails. They are lightweight and make the load easier to shoulder. However, Ultralights may be a little too delicate to withstand trails that cut through heavy vegetation. Think about where you’ll be hiking, and choose a pack made with a heavy enough fabric to withstand the environment.

women's backpacks

Some backpacks are designed specifically for women.

Compression Straps

If the pack you choose has compression straps that work well, it offers a little more flexibility in choosing what size pack you buy because straps keep the gear in place even if it is a smaller load in a larger pack.

Backpack Hydration System

Hydration bladders weigh less than water bottles, and when hiking, every ounce counts, so consider purchasing a backpack with a built-in hydration system.

Hiking Backpacks for Women

Some backpacks are designed especially for women. Look for packs that offer flexible lightweight frames that support your load and fit your body.

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