Choosing the Right Camping Backpack
There are many variables which need to be considered in selecting the best backpack. Some of the variables include duration and destination of the hike, the height and weight of the packer, the physical characteristics of the packer, to name a few.
If the hike is in cold or hostile conditions, additional pack size is mandatory. A hike along a river during the summer requires little space for additional clothing. When I was hiking the north side of Mt Everest, I carried little additional clothing because I usually wore everything I had brought along.
Although I was in good physical condition, I did not want to carry a large or heavy pack. While most of my 11 companions were straining in 110 Liter, 80 pound packs, I was very comfortable with my 70+10 Liter pack which weighed only 37 pounds.
Today, when I do a 3 day hike with my kids, I carry a 45 Liter ultra-light pack, but I can be a minimalist when necessary. I can now be comfortable because I carry around 15 pounds.
In regards to children and youths, my rule of thumb is the total carry weight should be in the 20-25% of the packers body weight; ergo, an 80 pound youth should carry around 20 pounds total. This helps save long-term back problems.
While I, personally, like some of the ultra-light backpacks, these may not fit properly and cannot, always, handle the rough or abusive treatment of a young, inexperienced beginner. Also, a youth 5 feet tall needs a different frame than one 5’10”. While a 45 liter pack would be best for one 5 feet tall, a youth 5”10” would most likely be better fit with a 65 or 70 liter pack.
Another component for determine the best fit is the youth’s shoulders. Today, the majority of 12 – 16 year olds have small rounded shoulders because of their personal time on computers. Typically for this group, a woman’s pack usually fits better because of the different shoulder straps. A positive result is that this will improve posture and is more comfortable.
- Jerry “The Gear Guy”
If you have questions regarding your specific need, please call us at 800-600-3500, and we can discuss a vast array of variables to help determine the best pack for your needs.