Essential piece of gear
First decision: will you buy an overpriced external frame backpack or an overpriced internal frame backpack? Some considerations--
- You can't use the backpack you carry your books to school or work in. It's not big enough to carry the survival gear and food you'll need in the backcountry. You'll be carrying 1/4 to 1/3 of your own body weight on your back, and day packs are not designed to do that.
- You could borrow someone else's pack- but they'd better be the same size and weight as you. You're looking for comfort, and a pack that won't fit you will hurt.
- Backpacking packs are specialized gear. Used properly, they'll last a lifetime. Knowing that, manufacturers keep prices high and add features constantly. If you can find a used one in your size, great.
- Select one for comfort. Try it on, with weight in it. Don't worry about the color. Go for fit. (Advanced backpackers: go for weight. Choose the lightest model you can find.)
Internal frame packs keep the weight close to your center of gravity
, which is helpful for rock climbing
. If you don't plan on going off trail over boulders and up rock faces, you're spending too much money. But, you will look cool
External frame packs will make you look and feel like a dweeby boy scout, but generally weigh less, have easier access to and more compartments, and allow air to circulate between your back and the pack.