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Day Pack Rucksacks
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Popular brands in this section... Day Pack Rucksacks - Footnotes
The most energy efficient method of carrying a load is to have it high up and near to the body so it is close to your centre of gravity. This is fine for trail walking but on rough terrain, a top-heavy rucsack can sway and throw you off balance. For hill walking and scrambling, keeping the load below the shoulders is better, while for skiing, hill running and mountain biking, the weight should be lower down for maximum stablity. Which rucksack you should choose depends on what activities you will be doing most often.
For summer walking you need a daysack big enough to carry items such as waterproofs, a warm top, map, compass and food / drink. For this, a 25 - 30 litre sack should suffice. Runners or walkers only out for a few hours and carrying a minimum of gear can get by with a smaller rucksack.
In winter, extra space is required for warm clothing, hats & gloves etc. Attachment straps for crampons and ice-axes are needed too. A good size for a winter daysack is 35 - 45 litres. Such a sack can also be used in summer of course - remember you don't have to fill it! These sizes are entirely subjective, if you have bulky gear or carry extra items like camera lenses this needs to be taken into account.
Overall, it's best to buy a ruck sack that is big enough for the largest load you will carry. An overloaded small pack will be uncomfortable and unstable. Also, if you have to hang gear off the outside there is always a risk of damaging or losing it. The key to rucksack comfort is fit. It is essential to use a pack that fits your body shape.
Daypack rucksacks - What's Important?
If you want a durable rucksack, look for double stitching, tough fabrics, double layers of fabric (particularly on the base), reinforced areas and chunky buckles and zips. Bear in mind that low-cost and lightweight rucksacks are often less durable than their more expensive or heavier-weight equivalents.
Rucksack Back Length:
Try the rucksack on while wearing just a think base layer rather than a fleece so you can feel how comfy it will be on a hot eummer's day without the benefit of any extra padding. Some rucksacks have adjustable back lengths, others come in more than one back length, and some are in a one-size fits all design.
Waterproof Rucksacks - do they exist?
Few rucksacks are waterproof as the seams leak, but some are seam-sealed (for example, the Vaude Aracanda 30). However, you usually need a waterproof rucksack liner to keep your gear dry. Many rucksacks have a rain cover built in too (such as the Berghaus Freeflow 30 + 6).
With the rucksack fully loaded and with shoulder straps and hipbelt properly fitted, twist from side to side. Bend backwards to look up, bend forwards to look down. Ideally you want the rucksack to hug your back whatever you do.
Bend forwards to feel if any lumps of padding or gear packed in the rucksack stick into your back (the edges of padding can be very firm and uncomfortable if poorly positioned). Are the shoulder straps and hipbelt padded enough to be comfortable around the body? If the rucksack has a chunky hipbelt rather than a thin waistbelt it will probably be more comfortable particularly with heavier loads.
If there is good air movement around your back, a rucksack will be less sweaty. So look at the areas that come into contact with your back. Then assess how breathable these contact areas are. Some rucksacks are held away from the body with sprung mesh for maximum venting (for example, the Berghaus Freeflow range).
A pocket in the lid for a headtorch, gloves, snacks or a guidebook is useful. A pocket under the lid will hold valuables and your car keys. Some rucksacks have side pockets that can be compressed flat, and these help build flexible capacity into the rucksack as when not required they ensure the rucksack is narrow enough to allow good freedom of movement. If you use a Camelbak or hydration system, make sure there is an internal pocket for the bladder and an exit hole for the hose.
Can you fit an ice axe or trekking poles to the rucksack? There will be times when you don't want either or these items in your hand, such as when scrambling or walking along a road. Some rucksacks have ice axe or trekking pole loops on the front of the body. Quick-release compression straps make it easier to get items in and out.