What rucksack to choose for your hiking trip

Powering across any mountainous terrain can take its toll on your body – and that’s all part of the
hiking experience but certain rucksacks can help ease the burden of your equipment-load, leaving
you to enjoy the trip without straining your shoulders.

Selecting ‘the right’ pack for your hiking trip can be a bit complicated because there are so many
rucksacks to choose from – the following features are what the mountaineers look out for:

Shoulder Straps

Hiking packs can all seem similar but it is the little details that make a difference when you’re on the
trail. How thin are the shoulder straps? You want thin belts that are well padded so you can carry a
lot of gear without two thick bands in your peripheral vision, which are awkward to unfasten.


Keep an eye out for straps that have pockets embroidered into the material – these are handy for
carrying essential items like mobile phones or small GPS devices. Also, some buckles are designed to
double-up as whistles – a practical addition to use in emergencies.

Hip Harness

One of the definitive components of a hiking pack is the strap that fastens around your hips –
creating a harness system for extra suspension. Harnesses help to shift the weight from your
shoulders to your hips, which is easier on your back all-round.

However, not all harnesses can be custom fitted and the wrong size could cause problems. Too
small and you would need to unfasten the hip harness, which effectively leaves you with a regular
rucksack tugging at your shoulders with each step. If the harness is too large, the hip support is
nullified again and your shoulders pay the price.

Adjustable hip belts can provide much more comfort and keep your pack secure, boosting the
amount you can carry and assisting your balance as you hike.

Back Panel

The section of the bag which rests against your back should be sturdy, padded and insulated. You
need a strong frame to help bear the weight of hiking gear, enough padding to avoid items digging
into your spine and when it comes to insulation – you want a pack that causes minimum back sweat.

Airscape back panels are incorporated into most Osprey backpacks – quality bags designed to do
much more than carry your stuff. These panels are layered with ventilation and air covers within the
padding, which allow air to flow between your back and the rucksack material.

Miscellaneous Extras

Always stay hydrated when you hike. Look for a pack that accommodates space for a hydration
bladder and straw – preferably stored in a pocket of the main bag area, away from the heat of your


It can be frustrating when there are a lot of dangly bits hanging from your bag as you walk, so find a
pack that uses as few compression straps as possible. Tightening up your entire rucksack with just a
couple of straps is much more convenient anyway.

The interior space of the main storage area can sometimes be too dark – making it difficult to find
your gear. A lightly coloured interior offers a nice contrast to spot the equipment you need. A zip
divider to keep soggy items separate from your clean kit is also a bonus.

So, research your options online and make sure your bag is equipped for the level of intricacy your
forthcoming hikes entail. Just one investment into a smart pack and it could travel with you forever.

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