Hiking Backpacks Tips

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How can I cut the weight of my hiking backpacks?

Lightening the Load

If you have back problems, or you just don't want to carry all that weight, you should reconsider what you carry in your hiking backpacks. Usually, most hikers fill their hiking packs with too much stuff, period. Here are some ways to give your back a break:

• Lighten up your sleeping bag. Buy a ultra-light model that weighs in at two pounds or less.
• Don't carry a tent and poles, use a tarp instead. Don't use a tarp for a ground cloth under your tent, use a lightweight footprint designed to fit your tent.
• If you don't want to use a tarp as a tent, look for a lightweight model that weighs in at just around four pounds.
• Don't carry as many cooking utensils, you may not need them.
• Go through your hiking checklist and see what you use and what you don't use, and lighten hiking packs that way.

Hiking backpacks don't have to weigh a ton, even if you're heading out for an extended hike. Cut weight in the essentials, and you'll have a healthier, happier hike.

   
What should I look for it day hiking packs?

Day Hiking Packs

A good rule of thumb when choosing between hiking backpacks and day hiking packs is to think about what you're planning on carrying. If you're going to carry more than ten pounds of weight, invest in a hiking backpack with a frame. If not, choose a day hiking pack. Day hiking packs are fine for short hikes, or even carrying on a ski tour, but you should look for a pack with a padded hipbelt, and at least one or two pockets on the outside. Is the pack flat, or does the back curve in the same way your own back curves? Even though you won't be carrying as much weight, day hiking packs should feel comfortable to carry, and they shouldn't pull you off balance when you hike. Hiking backpacks are a better choice for just about everything but short day hikes, so think about that when you decide what backpack is the right choice for your needs.

   
How should I pack hiking backpacks?

Packing Hiking Backpacks

How you pack hiking backpacks is partly personal preference, but there are some keys to help you balance the load.
• Most hiking backpacks are designed with a compartment on the bottom to hold your sleeping bag, so load that first. Look for a backpack that has dividers that keep your sleeping bag from getting compressed too much.
• Place your clothes in the backpack next, on top of the sleeping bag (or on top of the divider). It's a good idea to keep a few items, like a jacket, hat, and gloves, near the top of the pack for easy access.
• If the tent will stuff in under your sleeping bag in the separate compartment for your bag, then put it there. Otherwise put the tent and the tarp near the top of the bag so you can get it quickly. The best bags have a separate compartment for the tent, so you won't get everything else in your pack wet or muddy during rainy weather.
• The fuel and cooking utensils should go on top, and they should be as far away from your food as possible.
• Personal items can be stashed wherever they'll fit, and use the outside compartments for things you'll need handy as you hike.

Packing hiking backpacks isn't difficult, but you should follow these suggestions to make sure the weight is evenly distributed and you have room for everything you'll be carrying.

   
I don't need a hiking backpack, but I need a good quality pack I can use for a variety of events. What's the right backpack for me?

High Sierra Backpacks For Every Need

High Sierra backpacks are high quality hiking backpacks, but so much more. Need a snowboard bag? High Sierra's got those too, along with duffels, rolling bags, and day hiking backpacks. They also offer great packs for school and play. High Sierra backpacks are reasonably priced alternatives to costly hiking backpacks. If you day hike, or just want a small, comfortable pack to take with you during events, these backpacks will fit your needs. High Sierra backpacks are stylish and well made alternatives to more expensive bags, and you can use them for business or pleasure. The rolling High Sierra backpacks are especially good for school kids who need to carry a ton of books and a computer, but don't want to cart it around on their backs. These hiking backpacks will fit every member of the family!

   
What are the items I shouldn't be without on the trail?

Packing Hiking Backpacks – Part Deux

When you pack for lengthier hikes, there are some things you just can't forget in your hiking backpacks. Fill your hiking bags with these items, and you'll have a much safer, happier time on the trail.

• Map and compass. Don't leave home without them!
• Water and water purification. Don't assume you'll always find water along the trail.
• Extra food. In case of an emergency, don't be caught short.
• Wet weather gear, including extra clothing.
• Swiss Army knife or other small tools.
• Well stocked first aid kit.
• A good flashlight with extra bulbs.
• Sunglasses and sunscreen.

If you start your hike with these essentials, you'll enjoy your hiking a lot more. Even on a day hike, your hiking backpacks should include these items for a safer, more secure trip.

   
How do I fit hiking backpacks effectively?

Fitting Hiking Backpacks

How your backpack fits makes a world of difference in how much you can carry and how long you can carry it. Hiking backpacks should fit just right to properly distribute weight. The pack should rest on your hipbones for maximum weight transfer, and it shouldn't sag or pull on your shoulders. If the pack rests too high on your hips, it could squeeze your kidneys.

Today, most good quality hiking backpacks come in at least two or three sizes. Stay away from brands that offer one-size-fits-all technology, because they may not fit your torso and back the way they should. Good hiking backpacks also offer different hipbelts and shoulder straps that you can adjust to your own particular needs. Your outfitter should offer a trained packfitter to help you with your backpack choice. After you've chosen a few bags, load them up and walk around the store. The one that feels the best, without any rubbing, chafing, or other hot spots should be the one you choose.

   
What should the maximum FSO weight be?

Determining How Much your Pack Should Weigh

Most experienced hikers would never recommend trying to carry more than 1/3 of your weight. However, this assumes that you are in excellent physical condition and that the weight is distributed properly on a pack that fits you correctly. If you are 150 pounds, this means that you are carrying 50 pounds if you are carrying the maximum FSO. To truly enjoy your hike and to avoid exhaustion and injury, don't carry more than 25% of your body weight (38 pounds for a 150 pound person) or lower around 20% of your body weight. Also, you need to take into account your physical condition and your readiness for the terrain you will be traversing.

   
Why should I avoid discount hiking backpacks?

Watch Out For Injuries From Discount Hiking Backpacks

Hiking backpacks are not all created equal. If you choose discount hiking backpacks, you may save some money, but they could end up causing serious injuries, especially if you use them for longer, extended hikes. Often, discount hiking backpacks don't fit as well as they should, and they don't adjust as much as you need. That can result in discomfort, like chafing under the arms or across the chest. Or, it could get worse. Ill-fitting hiking backpacks have caused rotator cuff and shoulder injuries in some hikers, and aggravated existing back problems. Invest in a good quality hiking backpack to ensure your first hiking adventure isn't so uncomfortable you never hit the trail again!

   
How important is the fit of my backpack?

Finding the Perfect Fit

Never underestimate the importance of the right-fitting backpack. Your body size, type, and even the volume of your load will play an important part in fitting. Like a good fitting pair of women's hiking boots, women in particular should search for packs that are designed for the curves of their bodies. Most backpacks have adjustable hip belts, shoulder harnesses and stabilizer straps to assist in making your load comfortable, but even the shape of the belt or harness will need to suit your physical make-up.

   
What is an expedition pack?

Expedition Packs

If you plan to be on the trail for a day or longer, a good, sturdy overnight bag is essential. As a general rule, the size of your hiking backpack will increase as your need to carry outdoor equipment and provisions increases. Larger bags suited to this purpose are called Expedition Packs. They are designed with a broad hip belt to distribute packweight to the hips instead of the shoulders. A lumbar pad will protect the base of the spine from the added stress of a heavier backpack.

   
What are FSO Weight and Packweight?

Determining Your Weight

There are two types of weight to consider when choosing hiking backpacks. These are FSO Weight and Packweight. "From the Skin Out" or FSO Weight is the weight of everything you carry on the outside of your skin. This includes your backpack, but also your apparel such as socks, boots, and other garments. Your Packweight is the weight of your backpack alone. This does not include any the provisions (i.e., food or drink) you are bringing.

   
Are all hiking packs the same?

Hiking Your Hike Essentials

A hiking pack is one of the most essential pieces of hiking gear to carry your essentials for the trip. There are several types of packs, including lumbar packs, fanny packs, and hip packs. These are not technically considered backpacks, but are a wise choice if your hiking excursion is a quick one. Basic packs consist of pouches and belts that cinch around your waist. The weight of the waist pack is located in the curve of your spine near your center of balance. This keeps the strain off your body.

   
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Patricia Walters-Fischer