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Walking & Hiking
Rucksacks - What you should know
If you want to take everything you'll need to live comfortably on your travels, whether its trekking in the foothills of Nepal or Hostelling through the Lake District, you're going to have to get the right pack for the job. The theory behind buying a rucksack is the same for all packs; think comfort, size and features. In some scenarios a separate sleeping bag compartment will be a good idea, in others it would be a sure-fire way of adding unnecessary bulk and weight.
3 points of note when buying a new Rucksack
1. Fit : Once again, we are back to the old favourite of fit. An uncomfortable backpack does not work and will soon become the most annoying thing imaginable. First of all, get the back length right. Measure from the stop of the hipbone to your seventh vertebra (the protruding bone at the base of your neck if you tilt your head forward) to establish your back length. Once you have settled on the size, you can often fine tune the back length by adjusting the harness. Next, place some weight into the bag and put it on. Now check the waistbelt which should be sitting over your hips and ensure the shoulder straps are comfortable and in the right place. Have a walk around and, if it's a climbing pack, make sure you have a good enough range of movement for your arms.
2. Size : Rucksacks are available in various sizes measured in litres. For general day use, a pack of between 20 and 45 litres is ideal, while for climbing a pack that can carry 40 to 65 litres may be a better option. For longer trips, anything from 55 litres and up can be used. Always be aware of how much kit your taking and how bulky it is, plus it is important to realise that no matter what size rucksack you choose, you will always fill it.
3. Women Specific Rucksacks : Ladies rucksacks features shorted back lengths, narrower and closer together shoulder straps and a broader waist belt. Most backpacks will also allow their standard back lengths to be adjusted for a perfect fit.
Tell me what all this jargon means:
1. Waterproof Zippers : Keeping your kit dry on the hill can be a struggle. Using waterproof zips improves the resistance of the backpack to rain and snow by removing one of the most common sources of leaks.
2. Compression Straps : Compression straps help to stabalise heavier loads, but are also used when carrying smaller loads to keep the pack compressed and the weight closer to your back where it is more comfortable and balanced.
3. Supportive Harness : Choosing the correct backpack with depend of the suitability of the harness. the more load you are bearing, the more advanced and supportive the harness should be - as seen on larger rucksacks. It is equally important to select a comfortable harness that has been correctly adjusted and fitted to reduce stress and discomfort.
4. Articulated Hip Belt : With heavier loads, the hip belt provides more help with actually carrying the weight rather than acting as a stabiliser. When carrying a large, heavy load, the weight should be primarily carried on the hips for maximum comfort, requiring a belt that fits properly.
5. Hydration Compatibility : A water supply is crucial to keeping you hydrated during excerise, and more backpacks offer a specific sleeve for a hydration bladder and a porthole for the tube and mouthpiece, allowing you to keep on the move.