Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners - Backpacks
Ah – the backpack. You would think it'd be easy to decide upon a simple bag to toss your stuff in so you can wander the world; however, with so many available choices, options, and features, it can be a little overwhelming trying to narrow down which pack is right for you. Let hiking mojo help!
I always had a crush on The North Face, so my first pack brand choice was easy. After tons of research, Osprey was the way to go for my hiking partner. When it came time for us to purchase larger packs for our overnight backpacking adventures, we both went with Osprey, mainly for the ridiculously comfortable AntiGravity suspension system. There are plenty of other good brands out there, so take your time researching by comparing pack features, watching videos, and reading reviews.
The pack size you need really depends upon your personal preference for how much stuff and weight you want to carry. The more you bring along, the more comfort and convenience you have at your disposal. On the flip side, the more you carry, the more you must carry! I don’t mind a couple extra pounds if it means I get to have more items of comfort and enjoyment with me throughout the day.
The backpack I use for day hiking is a 40L Terra from The North Face, and my trusty trail assistant uses a 25L Osprey Escapist; both packs have plenty of room to carry everything we each want to bring. Anything between these two sizes will offer you plenty of capacity for the day without overwhelming you with additional weight. Some basic features to consider in a pack are:
- Comfortable suspension system
- Lots of exterior pockets
- Pockets on the hip belt (If you are not familiar with hip belts, they help distribute the weight of your pack, moving most of the weight from your shoulders to your hips, which makes carrying a backpack much more comfortable.)
- Multiple access points through which to reach the interior of the pack
- Straps on the exterior to carry additional items
- Hydration compatible, if you plan to carry a water bladder
A strong word of advice: measure the length of your back so you understand which size of backpack to purchase. If you do not purchase the correct size, you may end up with a pack that doesn’t sit properly on your hips and/or shoulders, and that could lead to aches and pains throughout your body.
I was so thrilled when my first backpack arrived! In fact, I wore it around the house while completing basic chores, packed and unpacked it a million times, and nearly tucked it into bed at night to keep it snuggly and safe until I returned. I still feel an overwhelming sense of happiness each time I look at my packs, because they mean adventure, freedom, exploration, and accomplishment. I hope you feel the same sense of joy when you look at your backpack!
Now, let’s jump over to Hydration and Nourishment and discuss food and drink options for the journey!
Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Backpacks