The perfect backpack for your trip
Whether you’re window shopping, crossing the Alps or trekking, you need the right type of backpack to stow away your daily essentials. The range of backpacks is huge, from small daypacks to large walking backpacks, so keep reading to find out more about the various types of backpacks and which one will be right for you.
What size should you get?
First of all, you should ask yourself what and how much you want to transport in your backpack. The weight and volume of your gear is the decisive factor here. A down jacket is very lightweight, but it can take up a lot of space, while a slim laptop will weigh more but take less space. As a guide, you can use the following size table (based on the maximum load, but it’ll depend on the material, finish and your body weight):
- up to 10 l (max. 5 kg): short bike tours, running, city
- 15-20 l (max. 7 kg): one-day hill walks and bike tours with little luggage, climbing, skiing
- 20-25 l (max. 8 kg): day trips in any area
- 25-35 l (max. 10 kg): two-day trips (or more with little luggage) in any area, business and school
- 35-45 l (max. 12 kg): multi-day hill walks, long climbing tours, mountaineering, ski tours
- 45-65 l (max. 18 kg): long treks, travelling
- 65 l and more (max. 25 kg): self-sufficient treks, expeditions, long round trips
The right back system
In addition to the size, the right back system is a crucial factor to look at when selecting a backpack. For small backpacks and daypacks, a lightweight and straight back pad will suffice. They’re easier to pack and will fit snug and stable on your back. The same applies for extremely lightweight backpacks, e.g. for running or climbing. Backpacks for cycling will either have good ventilation (a mesh back), which is especially practical on long cycling tours, or will lie snug against your back, which is best suited for fast rides or rough terrain (mountain biking). A snug-fitting backpack is also great for other intense activities, such as ski touring, downhill riding, and climbing.
Whilst hill walking, you’ll want a backpack with a tightly stretched mesh that keeps some space between your back and the backpack for enhanced comfort. When carrying heavy loads (e.g. trekking tours), ventilation is less important, and the mesh is replaced with a plate to keep the weight closer to your body. Most of the load (70 - 80%) should sit on the hips to relieve the stress on your shoulders whilst hill walking and trekking. A wide, padded hip belt is essential for this, and it should become larger and wider as the size of the backpack or load increases.
In addition, the cut is another important aspect that should be considered when purchasing a new backpack. The main part of the load should lie directly against your back, which is why very large and extremely lightweight backpacks (for particular sports) will have a long, narrow cut. Cycling backpacks will have a shorter, more pear-shaped cut to prevent your helmet from hitting the top compartment whilst cycling.
Whilst walking backpacks and backpacking backpacks come with a rain cover, pole holder, a separate bottom compartment (for wet laundry, shoes or a sleeping bag) and a compartment for hydration systems, a mountaineering backpack may contain attachments for skis and climbing equipment. Very large backpacks should have several access points to the main compartment (front, top, bottom) to prevent you from having to dig through your gear. Some other great features include a compartment on the hip belt for small objects, such as a knife or a camera, a laptop compartment, bottle holders and organizer compartments. Key holders and emergency whistles are other practical features of a good backpack. Equip yourself for your next outdoor adventure!