FIND THE PERFECT TREKKING BAG
In every store there are a million options for carrying your trekking essentials, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here’s our guide to keeping your selection simple.
You will use two bags for your trek – your main bag and a smaller day bag. Here’s some pointers:
STRUCTURE & FIT
Bags come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important that yours fits your shape. If you choose to buy a bag online to take advantage of a good deal, find a local stockist so you can try it on before you part with your cash. For the best fit, go by the length of your torso, not your height. Women's packs are made with narrower straps and shorter torso lengths. As you browse bags, keep in mind that each manufacturer is different - so read the sizing instructions on each backpack.
Your main bag will need to be a soft expedition bag – no external frames! It may be tempting to go for an external-framed bag as it is less expensive and designed for comfort, but these frames hold the bag away from your body. The closer the bag fits to you and the more centrally aligned it is, the better the weight distribution and overall balance.
A front-loading backpack, which zips open at the top and down each side, will allow you easy access to your things. With a top-loading pack, you may have to unload half your pack to reach what you need; however they can be far more durable than their front-loading counterparts. Top-loaders will typically have laundry bag style drawstring closure, which is far more mechanically sound than front-loading zips that can ruin your trek should they fall apart!
Typically, bags are usually manufactured with synthetics such as nylon and polyester, often blended in a diagonal weave to create a ‘ripstop’ fabric that is preventative against abrasion. Nylon is measured in a denier, which is it’s thickness against abrasion. The higher the level of denier in the Nylon, the heavier the fabric, yet the more resistant it is to abrasion.
Water repellency is usually created by an additional coating of a water repelling coating such as PU, DWR or silicone. You can also find water repellency treatments for zips too. Many bags come with an inbuilt pull over cover to protect it from rain and moisture and prove extremely handy!
Straps: Your bag should have good quality fully adjustable straps, and lots of em! A quality bag should have padded straps that go over the shoulders, across the chest and around the hips. Hip belts are often overlooked, but as you carry 80% of the bag’s weight on your hips, it’s worth looking out for.
If you plan to carry water bottles, make sure the pack has external pockets correctly sized for this. If you plan on using a pack bladder or hydration system, confirm that it's compatible with your backpack. Some backpacks even come with a hydration system!
CAPACITY & WEIGHT
MAIN BAG: A 60l capacity bag will be ample for your kit. Don’t be tempted by larger bags for ‘just in case’ scenarios; you’ll end up over filling it with excitement and regretting it later!
DAY BAG: Day packs are designed to carry the bare essentials only. The general rule of thumb for packing this bag is to only include items you’ll need when walking. Water, snacks, a small medical kit, hat, sunglasses, lip balm, sun block and a waterproof should be ample. Therefore, look for a bag around the 20l mark.
TEST IT OUT!
Once you've narrowed down your choices, try each one on with added weight. The shop should have weighted bags to put in the backpack. These bags typically contain lead or other dense packing, so they won't exactly replicate the feel of a loaded pack, but they'll give you some idea. Walk around the store, look up, squat down, and, if possible, walk up and down a flight of stairs. The backpack shouldn't hit the back of your knees when you squat, hit your neck or head when you look up or shift around when you move. Here’s a trying-on checklist:
- Straps should include padding so they sit on your shoulders without digging in.
- Waist straps make sure the bag sits centrally on your back.
- Chest straps should fit below the breast bone, resting in alignment with the arm pits.
- Stand up tall and test where the weight is naturally falling. If it feels unsupportive, readjust the straps and make sure it's not too high up on your back, or too low down.
Once you buy your bag, its time to fill it! Check back soon to see our packing guide.