Your Day Pack is clearly the first piece of essential hiking gear you will need. Avoid trying to make do with any old bag at this point, as a bag not designed for hiking will be uncomfortable and can easily ruin your experience before you have started.
Using a pack designed for the purpose has the advantages of;
- Being robust in construction materials, zips and fastenings.
- Designed to carry the type of loads you will need in comfort when fitted properly. (there is nothing like a sore back to put you off as fast as sore feet!)
- Proper padded harness that spreads the load and assists with your stability.
- Even if you give up hiking, a day pack will continue being useful and likely you last you a significant time.
What I look for
- Around 30-40 litres capacity (This doesn’t mean you will fill it completely)
- Alloy Internal frame (which carries the weight away from your back)
- Mesh ventilation panel between pack and your back
- Drink bladder sleeve and hose port
- Full shoulder harness, sternum strap and padded hip belt
- Top load pack with small outer zipped pockets on top or sides ( better for balance)
- A rain cover incorporated in the pack (usually in a zipped compartment under base)
- Fits your Torso length, and waist (there are often men’s and women’s versions)
Buying a Pack
Attractive as online prices maybe, a pack is one of the items of hiking gear that you need to have sized and fitted to you. Although the internet is still useful for doing as much research as possible to help you decide what you want and if your sales assistance actually knows their gear. (run if they don’t)
When fitting and considering a pack a few important its worth remember.
- Packs of all sizes Male and Female to account for the subtle differences in body shape
- It is your Torso length that is most important in defining the correct size of your pack, not your height.
- Always fit a pack with 5-10 Kg of weight in it.
- The shoulder straps are not there to carry all the load, rather to stop the pack swaying around and rotating backward off your back. If you can’t comfortably push your hands under the straps when done up, they are too tight.
- Your hips and legs carry most of a correctly fitted packs weight, with only a small proportion carried by the shoulder straps. To maintain this position the waist strap sits centred over the hips and should be firm.
- The chest strap, is only to keep the shoulder straps from slipping off, so do it up but not to firm