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Buyers Guide - Which Type of Backpack is Right for You?

The world of trekking outdoors can be an exciting place for anyone but it can be scary without the right tools on hand. Case in point: the backpack. If you are an experienced outdoorsman, you know that this can be one of the most important tools you ever have with you because it carries everything you need. Without it, you are a sitting duck and are at the will to the elements and almighty nature. This article breaks down the world of backpacks and, hopefully, it will provide the knowledge necessary to make a decision on the perfect backpack.

Hydration Packs

Volume: Up to 10 LitersHydration Packs

Hydration packs contain water reservoirs that feed water directly into the mouth via a rubber tube. Water is the most important thing to carry when going into the outdoors, and these packs provide the most convenient way to stay safely hydrated.

Most backpacks nowadays are prepared for a hydration system, including a separate pocket/zipper compartment with suspension loop for the water reservoir and a tube outlet on the bag near the shoulder strap for attaching the drinking tube. A hydration system consists of three components: the hydration reservoir, a hose and a valve that will seal the end of the hose. Drinking reservoirs and tubes are made of plastic and are usually coated so that the growth of bacteria is prevented or delayed. The valve is detachable for cleaning.


Volume: 10 to 35 Liters

The daypack is the most versatile pack among the backpacks. They are made for everything from one night trips to carrying school supplies. Even though the design and equipment are quite different, all daypacks have one thing in common: they offer well-organized space for everyday items. The carrying system of daypacks are designed with curved, ergonomic shoulder straps, and should include waist straps, sternum straps and a padded back panel for comfort during long hikes. This is ideal so air can circulate freely and effectively to remove moisture. The key features in a daypack are: support/comfort, individual pocket preferences, ventilation and durability.

Small Hiking Packs

Volume: 25 to 50 Liters

Small hiking packs are are lightly equipped for short trips, making them a popular option. They generally have many small compartments, depending on the model, which allows them to carry many small items in addition to the larger ones. The perfect small hiking pack will be comfortable, lightweight, supportive, and have all the perfect pockets without being too big.

Medium & Large Hiking Packs

Volume: 50+ Liters

These are considered the heavy-duty backpacks. They are large-volume backpacks used for trips of two or more days. The backpack must be able to carry a tent, sleeping bag, personal stove, food, etc. It should not only accommodate the person, but have an effective support system that makes it comfortable to carry on long trips.

These packs are usually divided into three sections sections: the main pack, the lower shelf and the top-lid. There may be any number of zippered compartments on the outside of the pack as well. Large packs also generally have straps on the outside of the pack for small gear. Some of the best packs also have different zippers to enter the same pocket, which can be helpful when the pack is very large.

Good hiking packs will have sturdy frames to support the weight in the pack. Some of the weight will be transferred to the hip and back for comfort and safety.

Ski+Snowboard Backpacks

Weight VariesSki & Snowboard Backpacks

Ski + Snowboard backpacks are usually slim so that they can be worn while on the mountain. They are also often insulated against the cold.

The most important feature of Ski + Snowboard backpacks are the straps on the exterior that allow the user to carry skis or a snowboard. They also have the same interior pockets as regular packs to carry usual gear, such as survival gear, tents, food, water, etc.

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