How to Pick a Hiking Backpack in 10 Simple Steps

Are you looking to buy a hiking backpack? If so, read on to learn how to choose the perfect hiking backpack in 10 simple steps. Ten-step guide to picking a hiking backpack that is perfect for your needs. In this article, you will find a quick perfect hiking backpack.

Related Read: How to Choose a Hiking Boot?

woman hiking with a backpack

Hiking is a popular activity enjoyed by an average of 13.5% of the population between the ages of 18 and 64 years old. If you count yourself among that group, chances are you’re going to need an excellent hiking backpack at some point to help make the most out of your journeys.

There are a lot of different types of hikes people enjoy. Some are quick, one-hour loops. Others are multi-day treks through unmarked trails.

No matter you’re hiking style, there’s a bag out there that’s a perfect fit for your ambitions!

In order to make sure you pick out the perfect hiking backpack, there are 10 core considerations/steps you should keep in mind.

I’ve outlined each of them for you below!

1. Pick the Right Size

One of the first things you’ll notice about hiking bags is that they come in a variety of sizes. Some people might automatically want to grab a small bag because it means less to carry. Others may want to go for a big bag because they feel like they can grow into it.

My recommendation is to take the time to assess the hikes you typically take and find the perfect sized bag to match.

Here’s a quick reference for you to consider when picking your bag size:

  • Hikes that are 1-2 nights: Get a 20-50 Liter Bag
  • Hikes that are 2-3 nights: Get a 50-60 Liter Bag
  • Hikes that are 2-5 nights: Get a 60-80 Liter Bag
  • Hikes that are 5 night +: Get an 80+ Liter Bag

The above examples are general guidelines, and some hiker’s needs will vary from those estimates.

2. Consider an External Frame Bag

External frame bags are a little bulky-looking, but are also extremely functional. With an external frame bag, your hiking backpack’s frame is accessible from the outside, which means you can hook things onto it and make the most of your ability to carry your necessities.

External frame bags are also cheaper than their internal frame counterparts.

3. Consider an Internal Frame Bag

Internal frame bags are newer than external frames and are what modern hikers tend to opt for. They look less bulky and are more aesthetically pleasing since their frames are fully housed within your backpack.

With this type of bag’s improved form though comes sacrificed function. Without access to your bag’s frame, it’s difficult to add extensions to it which means hampered access to items like water bottles and other necessities.

4. Assess Your Bag’s Fit

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a hiking backpack is how well it fits on you. Hiking backpacks are highly adjustable, so don’t expect that your bag is going to feel right at home on your body the second you slip it on.

Be sure to adjust your bag’s hip belt, shoulder straps, sternum strap, and load lifters to see if you can find a comfortable setting.

If you can’t, try to see if other bags provide a better fit.

5. Consider Flexibility

Many people like their hiking backpack to be as versatile as the terrain they’re hiking through. To that end, a couple of things you’ll want to note with your bag is whether or not it has expansion rings and hooks, so you can attach gear to it and if it’s light enough to act as a “day bag” during a multi-day excursion with a central campsite.

If your backpack is too big to take on daily outings from camp, consider investing in a smaller day bag you can attach to it or stow inside your larger bag. The Brandit US Cooper bag and Viper Lazer Shoulder Pack are both great day bags.

Check it out!

6. Think About Climate

Are you going to be hiking through rainy terrain? If so, you’ll want a hiking backpack that comes with a rain cover.

Are you hiking through a hot climate? If so, you’ll want to make sure your bag has excellent ventilation so your back doesn’t get sweat-induced rashes.

Think about where you’re hiking and figure out what features are a must in your bag to make sure your hike is as comfortable as possible.

Know Nothing Nomads is a great source for outdoor fun and nature.

7. Check Out Hydration Features

Dehydration is one of the primary concerns hikers should always keep in mind. Consequently, it’s important that you have easy access to your water bottle or hydration pack.

If you prefer a hydration pack to a water bottle, some hiking backpacks will have slips for your hydration pack and its mouthpiece, which will allow you to easily drink without removing your bag.

If hydration features like that are important to you, be sure to look for them when shopping for your hiking backpack.

8. Pack Organization Differences

Some hiking backpacks have a single compartment to store things in. This can lead to difficulties fishing out objects you’re looking for.

Other backpacks come with multiple pockets. While convenient, multiple pockets can mean a heftier price tag.

Find a bag that has a good balance of convenience and price point.

9. Pick the Right Color

Color is something most hikers, trekkers, and backpackers will pay attention to when buying a bag. After all, getting the perfect bag in the perfect color means having a bag that’s an extension of you and your tastes.

When hiking, however, it’s important that you realize how color can affect more than just the look of your bag. It can also affect your safety.

For example, a green bag can make you blend into terrain. If you’re hiking through hunting territory, that blending in could be dangerous. Alternatively, an orange bag would make you visible to humans but may also draw attention from insects or animals.

It’s important that you think about where you’re going and find the right bag to support your safe travel through the area.

10. Think About Long-Term Comfort

Long-term comfort can be hard to deduce when buying a bag because you only have a few moments with it before deciding whether or not to buy. Still, how your bag fits when it’s empty in the store and how it feels when you’ve loaded it with stuff are two very different feelings.

That’s why we recommend buying bags that have a return or exchange policy. That way you can take your bag home, load it up, and live in it for a little bit.

Recommended Read: How to Choose Clothes for Hiking

Wrapping Up 

There you have it! 10 simple steps that will help you pick the perfect hiking backpack.

I recommend taking each of my suggestions to heart when buying your bag to make sure you get the most bang for your buck!

Want more of the best advice on hiking, trekking, traveling and more? If so, check out more of my content on Travel Experta today!

Last Updated on June 21, 2022

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