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Getting Your First Backpacking Pack!

Updated on June 24, 2015

Finding the right backpack for you!

If you have searched for anytime at all on the internet for a backpacking pack you have probably found that they come in so many different sizes and types. This article is here to help you find the right one for your needs.

The Two types of Packs

To start out with you will be choosing between two different kinds of pack. Your options are the external frame pack and the internal frame pack. An external frame pack has a bulky aluminum exterior frame and is becoming a little outdated. The internal frame pack just has some aluminum or carbon fiber stays that go against your back. They will be much less bulky.

The External Frame Pack.

As I stated earlier the external frame pack is kind of a thing of the past but they are still produced and sold so I think I should probably tell you about them. In my opinion they are a little bit uncomfortable compared to their competitor (the internal frame pack) but they can actually be very nice at times. The sleeping bag and sleeping pad go on the outside of the pack so this leaves room for bulkier clothes but keep in mind that the frame does tend to hit you in the head. They are best for the old traditional backpacker that likes being able to take old bulky clothes and does not find compromising comfort.

The Internal Frame Pack

Now I'm going to tell you a little bit about the much more popular internal frame backpack. This kind of pack does not have the big bulky frame on it but instead has a lighter internal frame. They are much more comfortable than the external frame pack but they do not leave as much room for you to pack "bulky" clothes. This is not a problem for most people but if you are just getting into this great outdoor activity you may not have all the latest and lightweight backpacking clothes! I would not let this bother you to much though because it will carry the weight very comfortably. If you are going to get an internal frame pack then the next thing you need to consider is whether you are going to get a top loading pack or a panel loading pack. (note that some do have both :) ) A top loading pack loads it's main compartment from the top of the pack and a panel loading pack loads its main compartment from a front that zips open. This is just a choice of personal preference.

Picking A Size Capacity

Since I have hopefully helped you determine what type of pack that you need to think of what you are really planning on doing with this pack. Is it a pack for 2-3 day trips or are you planning on going on 2 week adventures? Once that you have determined this you can choose a the size capacity of the backpack. I would recommend for 2-3 day trips to get a 50 - 60 liter pack and for 4-7 day trips get anywhere from a 60 - 75 liter pack. (Unless you are planning on being a very comfortable backpacker and bring everything but the kitchen sink. If you are one of those people get a pack that is bigger than what I have recommended). You will also need a bigger pack if you are planning on going on trips in the winter.

Finding Your Torso Length

You almost know all that you need to know to get your first backpack! The last thing that you need to know is what size to get for the torso length. This means that you will need to know your torso length. To measure your torso length put your hands on your hips with your thumbs pointed in towards your spine. The person measuring you will need to find that big bump on the bottom of your neck and then he/she will just measure from the bump to the imaginary line created between your two thumbs.

Just A Little Extra ;)

You now know all that you need to know about getting the right backpack for your specific needs. I know that you are probably kind of confused about exactly what pack to get, so I have one little extra bit of advice and that is to stay will name brands and then follow the simple things that I told you in my article. Hope I helped! Oh and some reputable brand names would include Osprey, Kelty, Gregory, REI, and packs that you can just tell are the same quality. Happy Hiking!


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