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If you’ve recently discovered a love for backpacking, chances are you’re considering investing in a really good backpack. Buying a rucksack/backpack that meets your all trekking requirements is almost as important as buying a shoe that suits you. But choosing a backpack can be intimidating—especially for a first-time buyer. The trekking backpack is more like a companion that stays with you throughout the trek. The backpack you choose is either going to make your trek a pleasurable one or turn the trek into a burden. To make sure you invest in the right kind of backpack for your upcoming trek, here are some tips you should keep in mind.

Capacity of the backpack matters

The first thing to do is consider the total weight you are going to carry. This will depend upon the duration of the trek. Are you going for a day trek without overnight camping? Or are you camping for multiple days? Are you planning to take your backpack for summit climbs and difficult terrains that require carrying more gear?

One-day treks can be done with day packs. They are light weight, sturdy enough to carry 5 kg of load. Always look for one with a hip belt to distribute the weight evenly. They come in 20 to 30 L (litre) sizes.

Longer treks require backpacks with greater capacity, like 40, 50 and 60 L. These bags can carry gear ranging from 8 to 13 kg. They come with wider straps and hip belts to help you distribute weight evenly and minimize discomfort. A 40-50 L backpack may suffice for a weekend trek. A trek up that’s around five days long can be done with a 60 L backpack.Expedition treks that are more than a week long will require you to carry more load. Hence, they require more durable backpacks that can carry extra heavy loads. Expedition Backpacks come in various sizes of 70, 80, 90 L and can carry loads from 15 to 30 kg. They have a durable internal frame made of aluminium or stainless steel. This also adds to the weight. The trade off over weight and durability is based on the use of the backpack. Go for light frame backpacks for short and easy treks. For long and difficult treks, go for durable backpacks.

Selecting the right backpack based on your height

Once you have decided which type of backpack to buy, get your torso measured. Backpacks these days come with specifically designed sizes, based on different body sizes. Take a measuring tape and start measuring from the back of your neck, right where you feel a prominent vertebra protruding out, and where your shoulders meet your neck. Put your hands on your hips and feel the top of the hip bone. Spread your thumbs out towards your spine. Have someone measure this imaginary line between your thumbs. This will give you your torso length. The following chart will help you in selecting the right size.

Tips to choose the right backpack

Try your backpack and inspect its straps by loosening them. Start with the hip belt. The top of your hips should be anywhere from the middle to the top of the waist belt. Ensure you have at least one inch of adjustment to either tighten or loosen the belt.  Now, test the lower shoulder belts by pulling them up. Look for a good consistent curve of this strap around your shoulder front to back. Inspect how wide the shoulder straps are across the chest. Now load the straps on top of your shoulder straps. You can adjust the angle of these straps as they come off the shoulder straps. An ideal angle would be 45°. Keep the angle in between 25 to 60 degree at all times. You can always adjust these straps while trekking uphill or downhill to help you be more comfortable with your backpack.Try on the pack with some weight in it.

Inspect the features of the backpack and align it with your needs. Do you need a backpack with lightweight material, compartment for hydration pack, better ventilation system, more compartments for keeping essential gears?

Consider accessories.

Accessories include a rain cover for your pack, a hydration reservoir, or extra straps to lash items to the pack. Don’t worry about purchasing them all at the same time, however: You can always come back for the extras later.