Backpacking 101 – The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Rooted in the human curiosity, backpacking has the ancient allure of allowing you to take your home anywhere, allowing you to explore without limitations.

In reality, it allows you to escape from modern times long enough to remember the rhythm and natural cycle of Earth.

From the flowers blooming, to the leaves changing color and falling, to the waning and waxing of the moon, it is easier to observe these small changes when you are living in the environment and not distracted by the screen of your phone or the latest news report.

Our list of the best backpacks covers everything from great first time purchases, to packs for the ultra light cross-country trekker.

Best Backpacks

Personally, I am a strong believer that your main, go-to backpack should be around 45 to 50 L. Anything larger and you start packing unnecessary weight.

There are exceptions to this rule, the most obvious being a long trek. Most packs are available in three sizes ranging from 40-50L, 55-65, and 70+ L.

Therefore, if you want a larger pack you can still consider these the packs listed – just change the liter size upon ordering. Here are the top three “all around” backpacking packs for both men and women.


Best Pack For A First Timer

High Sierra Tech 2 Series Titan 55 Internal Frame Pack
36 Reviews
High Sierra Tech 2 Series Titan 55 Internal Frame Pack
  • 55 liter, top-load main compartment with gusseted drawstring closure and adjustable top lid.
  • Easy-Access, front-load zipper compartment with adjustable inner divider.
  • Contoured backpack straps, with adjustable load-lifters and VAPEL mesh padding.
  • Straps have a removable media pocket and an adjustable sternum strap to stabilize the pack.
  • Adjustable lid has an outer zippered pocket with key fob and inner zippered pocket.

This is the ideal “First time” pack for men. At 4.05 pounds it is relatively light, while offering pockets, an easily accessible sleeping bag compartment, and built in rain cover. Your hydration pack will easily fit slip into the designated pocket.

Our Favorite “Go To” Pack

Osprey Men's Atmos 65 AG Backpacks
277 Reviews
Osprey Men's Atmos 65 AG Backpacks
  • Nylon.
  • Five exterior zippered pockets and three slip pockets.
  • Anti-Gravity suspension system.
  • The versatile floating top-lid is removable to shave weight.
  • Side Compression Straps.

With five exterior zippered pockets, three stash pockets, a main compartment, and sleeping bag access this pack has locations for every piece of your gear.

The design of the pack allows it to be cinched down into a sleek design, while the mesh keeps the bag slightly away from your body, which keeps you cool.

The waist strap might seem robust and bulky at the beginning, but offers extreme comfort and small pockets for easy access to your knife and lighter. At 65L it can easily fit gear for a weekend and longer hauls alike.

Runner Up

Focused on being comfortable for every body, North Face has designed their pack to account for the way the human body moves.

From mesh shoulder straps to a more supportive waist belt, this pack offers an unbelievably high level of comfort. With 50L storage space you will be ready for any trail length.

With the additional six lashing points and gear loops you can rest assured that your poles, ice axe, and accessories else will be well secured.


Best Pack For A First Timer

High Sierra Women's Summit 40
125 Reviews
High Sierra Women's Summit 40
  • Man-Made Materials.
  • Top load main compartment with gusseted drawstring closure and adjustable top lid.
  • Single contoured aluminum frame bar can be adjusted to fit the shape of your back.
  • Molded foam back panel with Airflow channels to keep your back cool and dry.
  • Has a female specific fit.

This is a good, affordable, and basic pack for women just starting. The pack has a sleeping bag access zipper at the bottom, and pockets at the head, front, and sides, but no small pockets on the waist strap.

Its simple design will allow you to learn what you love and want out of a pack.

Our Favorite “Go To” Pack

Gregory Jade 53 Backpack
12 Reviews
Gregory Jade 53 Backpack
  • Polyester.
  • Pockets: 1 interior zip, 8 exterior.
  • Employs lightweight, high-tenacity fabric.
  • Innovative, streamlined suspension system.
  • Strikes a balance between weight and durability.

This is my personal favorite pack. I have spent the past decade using this backpack and have seen it through many designs.

They gave up the side zipper access for pocket access, which allows you to get into your main compartment through the front pocket (without removing your sleeping bag or opening the head).

This might sound simple, but is amazing! It means that you can grab food for lunch without unpacking half your sack.

Additionally, it has plenty of large pockets, but still straps down into a relatively smooth shape – making it easy to maneuver with on the trail.

Runner Up

Osprey Packs Women's Kyte 46 Backpack
60 Reviews
Osprey Packs Women's Kyte 46 Backpack
  • Osprey’s stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment is designed to quickly attach and carry trekking poles.
  • An integrated and removable rain cover protects your gear from foul weather.
  • An external reservoir sleeve is located behind the shoulder harness.
  • The zippered sleeping bag compartment provides easy access to your sleeping bag.
  • Dual upper side compression straps stabilize loads.

At less than 4 pounds, it is no surprise that this is one of the most common women’s packs on the trail. The Kyte allows main compartment access via the top and bottom of your pack, along with an easily accessibly side zipper.

The large front pocket is easy to stash gear in – even on the go, while the side straps compress the bag into a smooth shape.

The built in rain cover will make sure that you have dry gear come night no matter what conditions you face. Additionally, Osprey is known for their comfortable shoulder straps that easily fit most women’s body.

Best Lightweight Backpack

TETON Sports Summit 2800 Ultralight Backpack
79 Reviews
TETON Sports Summit 2800 Ultralight Backpack
  • Backpack for men, women, or youth.
  • Made with 420D 2MM Double Line Ripstop for the most rugged adventures.
  • Low profile, body-hugging fit reduces bounce.
  • Adjustable comfort harness fits children or adults.
  • Back and hip padding made of durable open-cell foam.

At 3.2 pounds it will be your fault for over packing if you feel weighted down. This pack offers polyethylene backer board, instead of the traditional aluminum.

Everything about it is meant to keep the pack comfortable, while cutting as much weight as possible. The main compartment is accessible from the top and bottom of the pack.

There are two gear loops and two Velcro gear fasteners to hold poles and axes, while the buckles on the front of the pack can easily hold snowshoes or crampons.

With a lifetime warranty this pack is all about the perks!

Runner Up

At 3 pounds, this pack offers a sleek design and water resistant material, and just incase conditions are extremely awful there is an additional rain cover for back up.

With access to the main compartment from the top and bottom, along with a head compartment and additional outside pocket you have plenty of gear space.

There is a pocket for water hydration in the main internal pocket, along with water bottle pockets on the side. Most lightweight packs tend to be extremely expensive, and this is a great, affordable alternative.

Tactical Backpacks – Best For a Day Trip

3V Gear Velox II Large Tactical Backpack
580 Reviews
3V Gear Velox II Large Tactical Backpack
  • Large 1628 cubic inches of storage for tons of gear for any mission.
  • Large self-healing zippers give easy, wide access to compartments.
  • Made with 600 D PVC backed nylon which gives the large backpack some rigidity.
  • MOLLE compatible for pouches and attachments.
  • Hydration bladder ready.

This pack offers everything you want and expect from a tactile pack. It has a highly compartmentalized tactical style, offering four pockets in varying sizes with additional internal dividers that will keep all your gear in its exact place.

At 27-liters this pack is ideal for the light packer or day-tripper. It will be able to accommodate a hydration pack, along with your gear.

Best For a Weekend

5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack
1,115 Reviews
5.11 Tactical Rush 72 Backpack
  • Built from high strength, water-repellant 1000D nylon.
  • Dual-zippered front and main compartments.
  • Admin organization pocket to store maps, pens and documents.
  • Adjustable dual density closed-cell foam shoulder straps.
  • Ideal for recreational use or as an operational bug out bag.

Weighing less than 2 pounds, it is easy to be on the move with this 72-hour pack! Designed for someone wanting to go lightweight and move fast along the trail, while still having easy accessibility to gear.

The large front pocket allows for quick draw and storage for equipment of all sizes – a necessity for the hunter.

Best For The Long Expedition

Crazy Ants Military Tactical Backpack
54 Reviews
Crazy Ants Military Tactical Backpack
  • Size: 25.2″x 12.6″x 9″, 50L-55L.
  • Thickened computer protective interlayer inside and extra compartment.
  • Material:more durable 900D and nylon sewn.
  • Padded and adjustable shoulder straps for carrying comfort.
  • It’s concise, designed for convenient and practical.

For easy, on the go travel, this is the perfect pack! The pack has multiple wearing options: single or double shoulder straps, and a handle for airport/off trail use.

At 50+ L, it offers enough packing space for multi-day to week excisions. It has molle web for small pockets, thick interior layer for protecting your computer and gear, and built in rain cover to make sure you are always prepared.

Best Travel Pack For Men

Osprey Men's Aether 70 Backpack
85 Reviews
Osprey Men's Aether 70 Backpack
  • Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment.
  • External hydration sleeve in backpanel simplifies refilling.
  • New IsoForm⁴ CM™ hipbelt balances firmness and cushioning for optimal carry.
  • LightWire™ peripheral frame effectively transfers load to hipbelt.
  • Front J-zip provides quick access to main compartment.

This is the ultimate travel backpack. From city to long explorations, this pack gives you the space you need to pack any and all gear.

Osprey’s design allows the pack to still feel comfortable even when fully loaded, due to the frame effectively transferring weight onto the hip strap.

The front zipper also allows easy access to the mid section of the main compartment without unpacking. From the trail to checking this bag at the airport, it is strong enough to endure.

Runner Up

This bag is perfect for all expeditions, including snow. The front buckle straps easily attach additional gear, such as snowshoes and crampons, while the gear loops easily fit poles and ice axes.

The ten compressible straps allow you to cinch down your gear and create a balanced pack. At less than 4.5 pounds, this pack is a lightweight for offering 80L of storage space.


Best Travel Backpack

Osprey Women's Ariel 65 Backpack
58 Reviews
Osprey Women's Ariel 65 Backpack
  • Stow-on-the-Go(TM) trekking pole attachment.
  • External hydration sleeve in backpanel simplifies refilling.
  • New IsoForm CM(TM) hipbelt balances firmness and cushioning.
  • LightWire(TM) peripheral frame effectively transfers load to hipbelt.
  • Front J-zip provides quick access to main compartment.

Consistently a best selling pack, Osprey’s design continues to offer a versatile pack.

It is very similar in design to the Men’s Aether backpack, including the front zipper access to the and main compartment, and additional gear loops and buckles, with focus on a comfortable fit on the female body.

This pack can handle city and trail conditions in all seasons. At 19 inches in length it is the ultimate travel backpack and carry-on size (just be sure to not over stuff it).

Runner Up

Gregory Mountain Products Women's Deva 60 Backpack
22 Reviews
Gregory Mountain Products Women's Deva 60 Backpack
  • Polyester.
  • Pockets: 1 interior slip, 1 interior zip, 5 exterior.
  • Includes umbrella.
  • The choice pack for gear-intensive overnights.
  • Swappable 3-D hipbelt and shoulder harness for a custom fit.

This pack is devoted to proving comfort with a minimalistic mindset. There is a large main compartment with three access points, along with a front zipper pocket, head pocket, and two waist pockets.The pack does include a rain cover.

If you are headed onto a plane, check your carry on standards. At 26 inches in length it is sometimes carry on approved, and sometimes not, but will easily withstand being checked.

Day Pack & Hydration Packs

Best Day Pack

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack
11 Reviews
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack
  • Hexlite 210 (210D nylon ripstop)| PU coating.
  • Build: without drink system.
  • Type/Intended use: Unisex.
  • Size-Backpack Volume: 20l.
  • Size-Size (W x H x D): 48 x 26 x 18cm.

20L is just enough space to stash your camera, water, snacks, and a jacket for your day hike.

This small pack does not come with a hydration pack, but does have an inside sleeve to keep one. What makes this packs nice is the quality of the materials Deuter uses, the Hexlite ripstop and PU coating make this pack extremely durable.

What ripstop means for you, in real life, is that if this bag does get caught on something the tear will not continue to extend, making it easier to patch.

This is also a helpful material when traveling in cities with pickpockets.While the PU coating makes the pack more water resistant.

Best Hydration Pack

Classic 70oz Hydration Pack
21 Reviews
Classic 70oz Hydration Pack
  • Essentials pocket big enough for multirole or wallet.
  • Stash pocket.
  • Reflectivity.
  • Elastic cord system for shed layers.
  • External Fill Antidote reservoir.

This hydration pack is named “Classic” for a reason. One of the first designs, it is still the most popular pack out there.

It holds a 3-liter water reservoir with an attached drinking tube, along with a small stash pocket for your wallet and keys. This pack is perfect for a quick run or day hike.

Runner Up

Camelbak Gambler Ski Hydration Pack
24 Reviews
Camelbak Gambler Ski Hydration Pack
  • Comfortably carry shovel, avalanche probe, skins and 3L of water.
  • Pack Features external shovel carry, internal shovel handle and probe pocket.
  • Therminator Harness insulates your water from the cold.
  • Designed to carry helmet, shovel, probe, skins, multi-tool, snack, phone, wallet, keys.
  • CamelBak Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee.

This slick pack carries an insulated 2-liter water reservoir. The drinking tube is also insulated so that you never have to worry about freezing when the temperatures dip.

There is a small exterior compartment to stash your ski skins, along with multiple gear loops for attaching ski poles and shovels.

Best Commuter Pack

SwissGear Black TSA Friendly ScanSmart Computer Backpack
1,890 Reviews
SwissGear Black TSA Friendly ScanSmart Computer Backpack
  • At checkpoint, unfolds to flat position.
  • Adjustable padded laptop straps inside to fit different size laptops.
  • Unique quick recognition window design accommodates most 17″ laptops.
  • Multi-panel airflow design provides extra padding for comfort and maximum back support.
  • Adjustable padded laptop straps inside to fit different size laptops.

Swiss Gear is the leader when it comes to travel backpacks and luggage. Their bags are incredibly durable and will put in many years of service.With four pockets this bag will help keep even the most disheveled businessperson organized.

The computer compartment unzips completely for quick TSA access and can lay flat when sent through airport scanners. This laptop friendly bag is perfect for the frequent flier.

Runner Ups

Business, Anti Theft, Water-resistent, Eco-friendly Travel Bag
5,840 Reviews
Business, Anti Theft, Water-resistent, Eco-friendly Travel Bag
  • 20 x 12.2 x 5.7 inch with dedicated Laptop compartment.
  • 3 MAIN pockets & 9 INNER small pockets & 2 SEALED SIDE pockets.
  • External USB with built-in charging cable.
  • Theft proof combination lock and durable mental zippers.
  • Made from durable eco-friendly nylon fabric.

Offering three main compartments, two side secure pockets, and nine inner pockets, along with a theft proof combination lock and durable zippers, this pack is meant for businessmen on the go and subway riders alike.

It is compatible with a 17-inch laptop, and even offers a USB Charging Port pocket. The goal is clearly to make sure that you have everything you need during your commute.

A slim, gray design makes this backpack look less trail ready, and more city chic meets business-professional.

Gregory Mountain Products Compass 30 Backpack
11 Reviews
Gregory Mountain Products Compass 30 Backpack
  • Backpack straps and padded, ventilated back panel.
  • Single main compartment with duffle-style zip access.
  • External-access padded 15″ laptop compartment with tablet sleeve.
  • Top accessory pocket with key clip and internal zippered mesh security pocket.
  • Zippered mesh organizer pocket inside main compartment lid.

With a 15-inch laptop pouch and a separate large main compartment, this pack is perfect for stashing your office notes, while still having enough space for climbing gear or gym shoes.

The pack’s slim design, 1.68 pounds, padded shoulders, and orange color make it ideal for cyclists. If you prefer a more dull color statement, the pack also comes in blue and slate black.

Youth Backpacks

Best Kid’s Backpack

Deuter Kikki Backpack - Kids
18 Reviews
Deuter Kikki Backpack - Kids
  • Fabric.
  • Spacious main compartment.
  • Reflective detail at the front and sides.
  • Name label on the inside.
  • Volume: 6L.

Can we just start off with the fact that this adorable backpacks looks like a bird? Additionally, made with quality materials it can withstand whatever adventure your little one gets into along the trail.

Trail lesson number one: responsibility starts with carrying your own gear. When I was about five years old my parents started requiring me to pack my own backpacks.

That way, if half way through the day I said I wanted something, it was my fault if it was not in the pack and I slowly learned to be self-sufficient and plan ahead.Of course, they always made sure that I brought a jacket along.

Best Kid’s Day Pack

Osprey Youth Jet 18 Backpack
55 Reviews
Osprey Youth Jet 18 Backpack
  • The fixed top lid has a zippered compartment for storage of extra items.
  • Underlid zippered compartment keeps items safe and secure.
  • Mesh side pockets help keep items like water bottles readily accessible.
  • Small external pocket keeps gear organized.
  • Two interior zipper pockets and three exterior.

This pack is a great transitional bag. At 18L it small to fit all the gear necessary for backpacking, but can definitely fit all personal gear.

This pack fits most kids between the ages of five and seven, allowing you to get them excited about carrying their own packs for long hauls, while you still have the tent and extra food weight in your pack.

This is the perfect transitional pack as kids outgrow their first children’s backpack, but are still not anatomically strong enough for a 30L+ pack.

Best Youth Backpacking Pack

Deuter Fox 40 Backpack - Kid's
50 Reviews
Deuter Fox 40 Backpack - Kid's
  • Alpine back system.
  • Vari Quick back adjustment.
  • Ice axe and hiking pole attachment.
  • Side bellows pockets.
  • Side compression straps.

Built for slender and smaller bodies this pack is perfect for youth who are ready to hit the trail full speed ahead! Technically, it is built for people around twelve of age and older, since that is when our bodies become strong enough to truly carry and support weight.

Remember to never let your kid’s pack be more than 20% of their weight. This pack offers enough space for them to be completely self-sufficient!

With a sleeping bag, main, and head compartments the pack looks similar to your adult pack, but offers a slightly slimmer design and smaller waist straps (11 to 18 inches).

Our only warning is that with this pack you might not get them off the trail!

Function & Types of Packs

It may seem odd to list the “function” of a backpack. Clearly, the backpack is a way to move all of your necessary gear from one location to another, day after day.

However, in our world of specializations, just like everything else, we now build specific backpacks for specific jobs.

Take functions of backpacks with a grain of salt.While specializations make sure that you have room for certain types of gear, many packs are cross platform and can easily move from one area to another.

Therefore, it will always been most important to find a pack that correctly fits you, is comfortable to wear for long durations – day after day, week after week, and serves you with the functions you need.

The common types of packs include:


Perfect for the weekend trip to long hauls, these packs are well made and commonly come in sizes from 40 to 80L.


For the backpacker trying to cover miles quickly, these packs provide lightweight solutions with a minimalistic design. Be aware that sometimes lightweight comes at the expense of comfort.Mountaineering/


These packs made sure that you have all the gear you need in easy reach, while trying to keep it safely packing inside. That way nothing can catch on rocks while you move around on dangerous terrain.Snow/


Focused on keeping your gear dry, this pack is commonly cross-platform and can range from daypacks of (20 to 30L) to backpacks (40 to 80L), but will always make sure to have extra layers of moisture protection.

Additionally, these packs commonly have extra gear loops for attaching ice axes or ski poles, along with possible extra padding to make sure crampons do not rip through your pack.Tactical


Primarily for the hunter, tactical packs offer lots of pockets. And I mean, tons: pockets inside of pockets! The goal is to make sure that you can quickly find anything you might need, while staying on the move.

Travel Backpacks

Commonly these backpacks are the same as your standard backpack and are used by people traveling across countries that also want to head onto the trail.

However, urban travelers can also use these packs and find them helpful due to pockets and the ability to easily move them as they hop from taxi, to train, to airplane.

When looking for a carry-on backpack note that most 45L packs will fit carry-on specifications as long as they are not overly stuffed.

Day Pack & Hydration Packs

Daypacks are meant for the simple afternoon hike and range for 10 to 30L. Commonly, they will have a hydration pocket built in that allows space for a water pack ranging from 2 to 3L in size.

Hydration packs are a small, slender pack that allows for easy carrying of a water pack and usually a small pocket for keys and wallet, but little else.

Commuter Pack

What makes this style of pack different is the computer pouch and additional padding.Electronics are strongly taken into consideration when designing these packs, which also range from 10 to 30L.

Fitting of Backpacks


A backpack is fitted based on the length of your spinal column and not your overall height. Your local outdoor gear store should be able to take your measurements.

You will want to start the measurement from the top of your iliac crest (upper portion of the hip bone), since this is where your waist strap will sit. Then measure to the top of your shoulder (around the 7th cervical vertebra or 1st thoracic vertebra).

Waist Size

The waist straps are highly adjustable and will fit 80% of wearers. If you run extremely slender or wider then you might need to find removable or adjustable straps.


The design for women’s packs takes into consideration the width of shoulders versus hips, and therefore some women with boarder shoulders still may prefer men’s packs.

Additionally, the shoulder straps are designed to be further away from the body’s midline, making them not smash your breasts as much.


These packs just tend to be built for smaller bodies. Otherwise, the design is nearly the same.

Load Lifter Straps

This strap allows you to continue adjusting how tightly the pack fits against your back. It is very similar to adjusting how top heavy a car is.

If the strap is loose it will allow the top of your backpack to pull away from your body, making you lean and possible tip backwards.

Too close and it will cause the top of the pack to rest against your neck, pushing your head forward.By finding the perfect strap length, your pack will be able to sit comfortable on your back without pulling you in either direction.

Sternum Strap

This strap draws the pack inwards by snapping it across your chest. Without this strap, the pack commonly slowly continues to fall away from your body and pulls on the inside of your shoulder and arm.

In women’s packs this strap will be slightly higher, allowing for a more comfortable fit over the chest.

Parts of a Backpack


Allow for your backpack to maintain a certain shape, no matter the relative fill of the pack. This creates balance and a standard fit to your pack, while also affects how gear packs into the backpack.

  • External: The external frame is the “old fashion” metal frame – stereotypical to any old camping movie. It allows your pack to maintain its shape, and carries your weight higher up on your back and away from your body. It creates stability problems, and over all looks a lot less sexy than the internal frame designs.
  • Internal: Nearly all packs now presently made have an internal frame. They are easy and light, while helping maintain the shape of your pack. They tend to carry the weight lower and closer to your body than external frames.
  • No Frame: Mostly found in lightweight packs trying to forgo anything not absolutely necessary.


This is a comfort feature, from the shoulder straps to the design of the back portion; padding allows the pack to not dig into your skin.The amount of padding you like is a personal choice, but be aware that it does add weight. Usually some padding is well worth the weight for comfort ratio.

Pack Access

Additional zippers along the front, size, bottom, or top of your pack that allow you to access gear without dumping everything out.Points of access are incredibly hand and you should take into consideration packing gear that is often used near one of these zippers.


Over the past five years backpacks are coming out with more and more pockets as electronic gadgets keep finding their way into the outdoors.

Be aware that some pockets are necessary and help keep gear organized. However, obsessive amounts of pockets will mean more material, which once again brings us back to the discussion of weight.

Personally, when backpacking, I like at least 1 to 2 pockets on the head of my pack that keep sunglasses, sunscreen, small camera, compass, and headlamp within easy reach.I keep my clothing in one large pocket, while my knife, Chap Stick, and lighter go into the small waist pocket.

Sleeping Bag Compartment

Usually at the bottom of the pack, this separate zipper compartment allows you access your sleeping bag without unpacking your entire backpack.It is incredibly handy! Additionally, if you don’t need the pocket, you can usually undo the pocket from within, and create one large compartment.

Points of Attachment

These are gear loops that allow gear to easily be attached to your pack. Most commonly they are for ice axes, ski poles, and/or hiking poles.Depending on your activity, you can find the gear loops you need.

Hydration Reservoir

A pocket built into the backpack, usually against the back, that allows for a water hydration bag (commonly 3L).There will also be a small hole in the upper portion of the pack that the pipe should travel through. Then attach the pipe to your shoulder strap for easy drinking on the move.

Removable Daypack &/or Lid

Having a removable daypack or the ability to remove the lid portion of your backpack means that you have a smaller pack available when you are doing a small day trail or trip to the summit.

Commonly, gear can be left in your tent if you are summiting a peak in the area in one day and then returning to camp.Having a backpack that allows for this option means that you have choices when on the trail and want to go lighter weight.

Rain Cover

Some packs offer a built in rain cover that easily fits over your pack. This is a nice piece of gear, but they are available for separate sale if your pack does not come with one.

Sizing of Backpacks

Buying a pack can be slightly daunting, especially when you have no idea how many liters of gear you have.

I highly recommend going to your local outdoor store with all your gear and trying to load it into a pack or two. Here is a basic breakdown for what range of sizes can accomplish.

  • 10 to 20 L: Perfect for a day hike or commute
  • 30 L: Perfect for the commuter that needs extra room for clothing and shoes or a lightweight weekend, backpacking trip.
  • 40 to 50L: Ideal for most backpackers. If you are packing over 50L of gear you really need to take into consideration weight and if you absolutely need everything in your pack.
  • 60 to 80L: These packs are large, usually because your traveling on an expedition and need additional gear, food, or ropes and will not be able to resupply.
  • 80+L: Just do not go there unless you have no other choice. Seriously, why break your back?

Best Backpacking Brands

When it comes to brand recognition, there are a few companies that are well known for providing comfortable and durable packs.

Deuter, Gregory, and Osprey are constant leaders in backpacking designs.Followed by North Face and Mountain Hardware, and at a more affordable level: Mountaintop, Outdoor Sport. Camelbak is still dominating the hydration pack market.

How To Pack

It might seem really easy, but the second easiest way to screw up your backpacking trip is to pack your backpack wrong. (The easiest way is to not break in your new hiking boots before the trip!)

Over packing will cause you to carry unnecessary gear and move slowly. Similarly, not statically thinking about where you put different gear within your pack will cause physical discomfort or require you to expand more energy then should be necessary to complete your journey.

Rule of Thumb

Put the sleeping bag at the bottom of your bag. It will be easy to get to if you have a zipper at the bottom, and will offer you a small cushion against your sacral bones.

Then, put all your heavy stuff in: food, tent, water, etc. Then continue to pack your lighter gear at the top: extra layer, hat, etc.

If you pack is weighted heavy at the top you are likely to tip backwards. By keeping the weight low you are keeping creating a center of gravity that allows you to be more stable while maneuvering on the trail.

The goal is to have your pack “sitting” on your hips by properly placing your waist straps on your iliac crest; rather than pulling down on your shoulders. And finally, after the waist strap has been tightened, adjust your load shifter straps and sternum strap to comfort.

Take a few steps to check your balance, and then head out into the trail! It’s time to trek!

Rules of The Trail

Carry In – Carry Out

Trekkers are a varied group, but one thing we all have in common is respect for the grand and pristine nature that surrounds us on the trail.

Our goal is to always keep nature as it is.While trails are a necessity, other human impact is not. Therefore, if you bring it in, we will expect you to take it out.

Meaning: Never ever leave trash behind!Even if you think it is biodegradable. Always bring a few extra trash bags or Ziplocs with you. You will be expected to take all your trash out!

This even includes your toilet paper.If you need to burry your feces please do so using a shovel and at least 200 feet away from any water source.


Rule #1: Always yield to horses.

Rule #2: Yield to bikes. Depending on your international location bikes usually yield to hikers, but not always, and this is commonly not a followed practice. Mountain bikes are a little trickier.

Stay alert if you are in an area that allows biking as they move fast and cannot always see far along the trail – especially if they are coming down switchbacks.

Rule #3: Get out of the way of a trekker going uphill! Getting momentum for an uphill can be a challenge. Therefore, the person headed uphill always has the right away when it comes between trekkers.

Additionally, if someone is walking faster than you uphill, it is polite to stand aside and let him or her pass.

Of course, if you are on a busy trail like Half Dome, this becomes harder and inevitably you will have to take turns with groups switching off going up and down.

Culture Along The Trail

Overall, most trekkers are friendly and outgoing. We commonly ask where you are from and get really excited to meet “friends” from back home when far away.

Still to this day, a few of my closest trail pals I met while trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. We met up with a few people the day before a trek to Tilicho Lake, which is notorious for landslides and bad weather conditions.

Therefore, we all decided to spend the next three days together in a larger group for safety.This kind of collect and disperse is common along longer trails, including the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) and APT (Appalachian Trail) in the United States.

Just because people like to chat does not mean you have to! If you say “Hi” and someone just keeps talking, it is completely okay to tell them that you came outdoors to get some space and quiet.

Do so politely and most people will understand.The worst thing to do on the trail is be “that person” or “that group:” the loud, ruckus causing, hooligans that you can here from miles away.

We all enjoy a few camp songs in the evening, even a little guitar, and games, but do not make noise 24/7. We have all spent days hiking long hours to get far away from civilization.

We want starry skies and quiet evenings to appreciate the wind rustling in the trees and the crickets’ chirping. So, please do not make me thing that a train is rumbling through the campground tonight!If you are doing a long trek, especially the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) or APT (Appalachian Trail) the United States, you might be given a trail nickname.

Do not take it personally, but rather as a badge of your endurance and dedication. A friend of mine picked up the name Slacker along the PCT, which seemed odd to me since he is one of the fastest trekkers I know.

Only later did I figure out that he was constantly setting up slack lines (similar to tightrope walking, it is a method many people use to work on their balance). Examples of other trail names include: Princess, Happy Feet, Six, and 2%.

Primarily, a friendly and respectful group, trekkers are determined to enjoy the great outdoors.

They are that rare group of people that take pleasure in watching birds chirp their morning song, hiking to a random summit just to see the unknown, and to just keep walking until the world feels right.

As miles pass under your feet your body will physically grow stronger, but so will your mindset and determination.

Endurance and stamina will slowly creep into your blood, and do not be surprised when you become addicted to the fresh air and open skies.Welcome to the world of trekking! We look forward to seeing you on the trail.

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