How to choose the correct hiking backpack

It’s not just about the size…

Hiking is a great way to see the world at a leisurely pace and with many of us still stuck indoors working remotely, it’s time to get trekking and take in the beauty of the great outdoors. 

Selecting the right backpack to accompany you will make a difference to how comfortable your adventure is. Jamie Owen, marketing manager of Thule SA, answers some questions to ensure you make the correct choice.

What size backpack do I need?

A: Size is determined by three factors: the length of your hike, the location of your hike or the environment, and the season or expected weather you’ll encounter along the way. These three factors will help you plan what gear you need and ultimately, what size pack is necessary.

How do I choose a pack to fit my body?

A: It doesn’t matter how much gear you’re bringing, if a pack doesn’t fit your body correctly, you won’t be comfortable on the trail. To find the right one, measure your torso length and hip size and choose accordingly.
Torso length is vital since a pack that’s too tall or too short won’t have correct weight distribution and will cause discomfort and “hot spots”. Hip belt size matters because approximately 80% of a backpack’s load should be supported by your hips, not your shoulders.

What should I consider when choosing a women’s backpack?

A: Most backpack collections have women-specific fits, which are typically narrower and shorter, and have shoulder straps and hip belts designed for the female form. These packs are often suitable for younger backpackers of either gender as well.

What are some important features to look for in a pack?

A: • Ventilation – A pack with a suspension system will allow maximum breathability between your back and the pack, and help you stay cool and dry on trails.
Access points– Choose a backpack that offers different access points so you can  get to all your gear quickly.
Removable lid– Look for a removable lid that can be converted into a convenient sling pack or small daypack for short day hikes.
Hydration compatibility – Opt for stretch side pockets to hold water bottles or a hiking pack with hydration reservoir sleeve.
Sleeping bag compartment – These are usually found at the base of the pack and will keep your sleeping bag protected. 
Backpack rain cover – Weather is unpredictable and it’s important to keep your gear dry. Some backpacks have an integrated rain cover, but you can also buy them separately. Store yours in a side or front pocket for easy access.

What about hiking with young kids?

A: If you’re hiking with a toddler or young child, the Thule Sapling is an innovative child carrier backpack that offers your little one great views and a secure ride. It’s designed with both your comfort in mind and has an easily adjustable back panel and hip belt for quick transitions between parents – a lifesaver on long hikes! For added peace of mind, the Thule Sapling Elite comes with a mirror so you can keep an eye on your child.

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