Selecting a pack
Selecting a suitable pack can be an intimidating experience. At most outdoors stores you’re usually met with a Great Wall of China–sized display of packs in a multitude of sizes, colours, shapes and price points. It’s hard to know where to begin. But try not to be overwhelmed, narrowing the selection down is really quite easy.
The most important thing is to decide what you plan to use your pack for. Once you have made this decision everything becomes easier.
As a rough guideline, if all you’re planning on doing are day trips then you probably need a daypack between 20 to 40 litres in size. If you’re looking at something that can stretch to overnight or weekend trips, then a pack in the region of 40 to 55 litres is perfect.
Packs for multiday walks start from around 60 litres and go up to 80 or 90 litres in size. Anything over 80 litres is getting pretty big, unless you’re into serious expeditions. It’s worth bearing in mind that these are only approximate guidelines. If you pack really light, you can often get away with a much smaller pack. On the flip side, if you like to carry lots of creature comforts or extra camera gear, then you might even need to upsize from the above recommendations.
Apart from size, another major determinant of the type of pack you choose will be whether you’re planning on using your pack for travelling or bushwalking. Packs designed for travelling usually include a number of features that bushwalking packs don’t, including a zip-away harness, special compartments and the ability to open up like a suitcase. These features are great for travelling, however, they mean that the pack is less waterproof if you take it bushwalking. Travel packs are also boxier, meaning they are not as good for off-track walking through scrub. Plenty of people travel with a bushwalking pack (or a hybrid travel/bushwalking pack), but if you are solely into travelling then you might be best getting a dedicated travel pack.
When it comes to selecting a daypack, it’s a pretty simple process. Work out how many litres you need to fit what you usually carry, and then you can choose from a range of price points and features. Some daypacks will be very simple, with few pockets or compartments. The fewer bells and whistles, the lighter a pack will be. Simplicity also means there is less that can go wrong. However, a lot of people like pockets and extra features like waterproof covers or extra attachment points for walking poles, etc. Because daypacks are not designed for heavy loads, the harnesses are generally simple, but it can still be worth trying them on with a few kilos of weight inside to test out how they feel under load.
Overnight and multiday packs
Picking a pack for overnight and, in particular, multiday walking is where the pack buying process gets trickier. The bigger the load you have to carry, the more important it is to get the right pack – one that fits and allows you to carry a load comfortably. Fitting a pack is something of a skill, so it can help a lot to have a shop assistant who knows what they are doing, and who can make the necessary adjustments to get the best fit.
Because people are different shapes and sizes, and all the pack brands have different harness systems, it is crucial to try on packs with some weight in them (around ten to 12 kilograms is a minimum) to help you work out which one fits best. Don’t just sling the pack on for a minute or two, it’s only after five or ten minutes that you will often start to notice if something is uncomfortable.
Once you have found a harness system/s that works well with your body shape, then you should make a secondary selection based on what your budget is and what features you want. Most bushwalking packs are either single or twin compartments. Single compartment packs are more waterproof, but some people prefer to have the extra access twin compartments allow. Another choice is whether you go with a lighter nylon pack or a more Australian-style canvas pack, which is heavier but very durable (see the box on fabric choice).
Choosing the right pack can make the difference between a great experience and a terrible, painful experience. So do your research, get someone with the know-how to help fit it properly, and it will open up your world to a whole range of wonderful experiences in the outdoors.
Tips for Carrying a Pack
There are a few basic rules for carrying a pack. Generally it is suggested that a fit person should never carry more than a third of their bodyweight. So, for example, a 60kg woman shouldn’t carry more than 20kg.
You should always try to get as much weight as possible on your hips. To do this loosen off all the straps before putting on your pack, then put the pack on, tighten the waist strap first, then the shoulders, then all the stabilising straps.
There is a real art to fitting everything into a pack. Keep in mind that things you might need throughout the day – a rain jacket or hat, for instance – should be stored where they can be easily accessed. Heavier objects should be packed towards the top of the backpack, close to the spine (and your centre of balance).
Nylon (often called Cordura) is easily the most popular fabric for pack construction. It has a lot of advantages: it’s light, tough and absorbs very little moisture. It’s only weakness is that it is made waterproof with a laminate on the inside, this laminate will wear off after time, meaning that you will have to get a pack cover or liner to keep your gear dry.
Canvas is another common fabric (particularly in Australia). Canvas is super tough and it remains waterproof throughout its life (things can still get damp in a canvas pack though, so use a liner or pack cover if you want your gear to stay completely dry). It has a few drawbacks: it’s more expensive and it gets quite heavy when it’s wet because it absorbs moisture.
Phone: 03 90880386
Address : Bendigo, VIC 3550
Camping, caravanning, 4x4 and hiking equipment for the great Australian outdoors.
Camping Australia proudly stocks the camping essentials from tents, sleeping bags, camp cooking, hiking and climbing clothing and equipment, fishing gear, caravanning, 4WD gear and much much more all to help you enjoy this great country. Shop for thousands of products delivered all around Australia.