When you begin looking into bags to fit your adventure, you will quickly find out how many options are on the market and how many variations of nearly the same bag there are. While each has some unique quality that makes it different, there are multiple classes of packs that can be categorized together to make your search slightly easier. Having the right bag can make your adventure more enjoyable, comfortable and efficient. I have categorized my bags into 3 separate categories: Backpacking, Everyday Carry, and Packable. Each has a distinct purpose, there are many options for each, and I will review one bag under each type of bag.
These bags vary in size but usually range from roughly 35-75 liters depending on how many days you will be backpacking. The more “liters” the bigger the pack is and the more items you can place within it. I am 6 foot tall and weigh 180 pounds and I have a 65 liter North Face Terra 65 pack. This fits me well and allows me to take up to a 4-day camping trip with it (I am sure you could get more depending on what gear you take). When fully packed, it can weigh up to 40 pounds, but with the support straps and proper carrying techniques, it can be hiked in for several miles. A few properties to look for in a good hiking bag:
- Access points – Is the pack top loading, bottom or center?
- Quick Access Pockets – How many pockets are on the exterior of the bag for quick access to phones, knives, bug spray, and other needs.
- Back Ventilation – There are many types of support systems and ventilation. The best way to know is to try one on in the store. They will help you get “fitted” for the right size bag.
- Integrated Rain Cover – Does the pack come with an integrated rain cover in case you get caught in rough weather?
This is the bag you can take to the lake, park or even to work. These bags are more simple than hiking bags but include features like an integrate laptop sleeve and are much more lightweight than your large hiking bag. The bag I use is the Eddie Bauer Bacon Pack. This is a hybrid bag because it can be packed down small but also expands into a 28-liter bag. This bag is very lightweight and weighs 1 pound 7 ounces. It does have a laptop sleeve but has minimal padding on the inside portion of it. It comes with an integrated waist strap for extra carrying support.
These bags are great to put in your suitcase when heading on a trip. They are great for quick outings to the park or even a short hike. Many times they pack inside of themselves and zip up into a small carry case. They are not meant to be used for extended amounts of time at once since they lack the support and size to do so. There are many bags including Tortuga Packs and the Eddie Bauer Rippac among many. We currently own the RipPac and it has performed well for our family and has been used for beach trips, pool days and quick trips to the park. It has nearly no support but it is not expected to because that would take away the packability. There are many places to purchase your next bag but these below have a great selection. I highly suggest heading to your local outfitter to get fitted correctly with a bag and to see what style to enjoy best.
There are many options for all three categories, but the best one is the pack that fits your needs the most. Be sure to look at online reviews and ask your friends that own a bag what they like and dislike about theirs. This will help you narrow in on the features that are important for you and purchase your perfect pack.