Your backpack will be one of the most essential items you will take with you. It will carry all your gear for many hours and kilometres. The right backpack, the correct fitting, and the way of packing your gear will all contribute to the level of comfort during your hike. It will prevent back injuries and increase the level of pleasure on your hike.
Choosing the perfect backpack
There is no such thing as one perfect backpack for everyone. Body composition and personal preferences differ per person and therefore the only way to find the perfect backpack for you is to try and test various options. Always try on backpacks with weight inside of them and preferably take a walk whilst wearing it. Ask if you can do this outside and get informed by the people at the store.
There are several things to consider when buying a new backpack:
1. Choose the right size – prevent bringing too much on your hike by buying a smaller size
2. Look for ergonomics and wearing comfort – consider the weight together with the hip and shoulder straps. Choose a right size of the back panel and make sure it provides you with enough freedom to move
3. Choose for functionality – Know which options and compartments you want to have and use this to decide
4. Look for sustainability – choose a backpack that you can use for several adventures, so you won’t need several
Packing your gear
It is essential not to bring too much gear. The more gear you take, the heavier your backpack will be and the more effort it will be to carry it. When packing you need to decide if you need to take camping gear or not. Heavy gear can best be placed in the middle against your back. This will ensure that the centre of gravity remains near the centre of your body and will help you keeping your balance.
Bottom – light gear like a sleeping bag, clothes, or towel
Middle – heaviest gear like a first-aid kit, toiletries, electronics, bivouac sac and water bladder
Top – gear you need to access during the day and need to access fast like sunscreen, maps, and a (down) jacket
In the different compartments you can place personal items and water bottles. For a complete gear list, click here.
Tip: make sure to always keep your sleeping bag and other camping gear dry!
Fine tuning your backpack
A correctly fitted backpack enables you to carry the weight on your hips instead of your shoulders and back. The hip straps should be fitted properly so you can use your upper leg muscles to carry the weight. These muscles are stronger than your back and shoulder muscles, especially for the long run. The hip straps should be placed slightly above your hip bones and need to be tightened firmly, but comfortable. Next you can tighten the shoulder and chest straps to increase stability. The chest strap will prevent the backpack from moving during unexpected movements.