When heading our for a weekend or longer trek, you'l need to take more kit for sleeping, shelter, cooking etc so a larger pack is required. Larger rucksacks are generally packs over around 40 litres which are designed to carry all of your gear when camping or backpacking, often over long distances or for extended periods of time. To make the expericnce as enjoyable as possible, it’s vital that the rucksack is a good fit and is comfortable to carry.
Here are a few tips to help you choose and get the best out of your rucksack:
• Many larger rucksacks have adjustable back systems – Ensure that the pack is adjusted to fit your size. Womens packs are also available which are designed with female anatomy in mind.
• If possible, try on a few different designs to see what works best for you.
• Consider how much equipment you are likely to carry and how you are going to pack it.
• Check out the features, do you want lots of pockets, compression straps, floating lids or maybe opt for something simpler.
• Consider the weight of the pack. For weekend hikes and treks where you want to cover distance in a short time, a lighter pack with less features will be sufficient.
The aim when fitting a rucksack is to ensure that the length of the back system fits the user and that the hip belt sits on the pelvis, stabilising the load and lifting some of the weight off the shoulders.
The back length of many packs can be quickly adjusted either by tensioning a couple of buckles or by moving the shoulder harness up or down on a simple ladder lock system. Womens rucksacks tend to have narrower shoulder straps set closer together, a shorter back length and a reshaped hip belt. The adjustable chest strap is designed to hold the shoulder straps in place and ease the strain on the shoulders.
The shoulder straps will also be adjustable, with a strap at the bottom to pull it tight and a strap at the top which tensions the top of the pack onto the shoulder. Once you have set the back length on your pack you will probably rarely need to change it again and you will find that with some use your pack will mould to your shape and become more comfortable.
If you're planning an extended backpacking trip? then this is likely to be your volume category. These larger packs will be large enough to carry any additional equipment you may need while also having the load carrying ability, and comfort, to support you. Basically, the volume size you will want to take with you depends on the kind of adventure, for how log you'll be going and where you're heading.
The best start is to have a kit list and lay out all you camping gear out on the floor. Here you'll get an overview of what you're taking for each of the main functions, ie sleeping, cooking, warmth, navigation, extras, etc. You'll also be able to remove some of the items that aren't essential and might add extra unnecessary weight. Put these to the side and one or two of tyhese 'nice to have' items might fit in later if you have room.
Modern rucksacks have a wide range of features which might appeal to you. Most have lid pockets which are handy for quick access. Side pockets are good for keeping things separate and easy to find. Some side pockets are bellow shaped and pack away when not required allowing a compression strap to fit over them which can be useful for strapping sleeping mats or even tents to the side of the pack.
Many rucksacks are split into two compartments, often linked with a draw cord closed divider. These are great for accessing items at the bottom of the rucksack without having to pull everythign else out. A good use for this space is for your sleeping bag. Another handy feature on many rucksacks is front zip opening on the main compartments allowing even easier access to your kit.
Other features often include small belt pockets, floating lids to allow additional gear to be carried, walking pole/ice axe holders and often whistles.
Once you've chosen your rucksack, you'll need to pack it. Rucksack packing can be a bit of an art form but once you've done it a few times, it'l become second nature. We would all like a tardis-like pack with everything you might need at hand. Your rucksack is built to carry plenty of weight, but the way you load it up makes a big difference on how comfortable it’ll be and easy it'll be at the other end when unpacking to set up camp. Keep heavy things close to the middle of your back and the light, compressible things further away or higher up.
Try to pack things in a logical order so you can find the things you need most quickly first and also try to keep the weight as evenly distributed as possible to avoid the pack sagging to one side. When you're walking through Glen Coe and the skies open up with a torrential downpour, you don't want the the first thing to pull out to eb your sleeping bag the but rather your waterproofs.
Take a look at our range of rucksacks and pick the right for the task ahead. Before you head out, trying paking it and unpacking it to make sure you're happy with the order of kit and everything is accessible when you might need it. Take a walk aroung and make sure it's comfortabkle and the weight is evenly distributed and it's comfortable. A well adjusted rucksack is much more comfortable to carry than than one hanging off your back. After all, you are supposed to be enjoying yourself!