How to Choose a Rucksack

11th June 2019 by


In this blog we’re going to be covering the finer points of buying rucksacks from choosing the right design to getting the fit spot on so that your pack is as comfortable and useful as possible.
Backpack guide for walking

There is a vast array of rucksacks on the market and the selection available at The Epicentre can be a little intimidating if you do not know the basics. To start with we will give an overview of the main types of rucksack user group we cater for and what sorts of pack each group should look out for. Next, we’ll show how to get the best possible fit to make those heavy loads seem a breeze!


What type of user are you?

  • Day Hiker: 15 – 30 litres
  • Technical Day Hiker: 25-45 litres
  • Backpacker: 45+ litres
  • Climber: 30 – 50 litres
  • Fast and Light: 15-25 litres
  • Lifestyle: Up to 15 litres

Day Hiker: 15 – 30 litres


Type of walker: You enjoy a good walk in the fells during the warmer months and aren’t carrying much extra equipment, you need a rucksack to hold those essentials such as waterproofs, food, drink and the odd extra layer.

Things to look for: In this category comfort is key and selecting a pack that is easy to use and doesn’t have excessive features is important. Packs on the smaller end of the spectrum are perfect for families where several bags are being carried to spread out equipment.

 

lightweight backpack for walking, hiking, trekking

We recommend: The larger packs are more useful for solo walkers or couples where a little extra kit may be carried. The following bags are a good starting point for day hikers.

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Speed Lite 20

Speed Lite 20

An ultralight pack for alpine adventures and athletic mountain pursuits. The Speed Lite 20 by Deuter may be minimal but it still offers incredible comfort and ventilation thanks to its Lite Air System technology. The Delrin U-Frame distributes your load perfectly and the Lite Air back panel provides comfort, stability, and breathability. The handy hip fins will also ensure the weight is distributed evenly with zipped mesh pockets for your trail mix or extra piece of Tiffin. It also features a detachable hip belt and a stretch front pocket for your gloves or extra gear.

£ 65.00

Arcteryx Index 15 Backpack

Index 15 Backpack

Index 15 Backpack

Equip yourself with this lightweight, multipurpose and compact daypack suitable for hiking and everyday use. The Arcteryx Index 15 backpack features an ultralight and weather resistant fabric, keeping your gear protected if the weather turns. A truly versatile pack, compatible with both hydration bladders and your small tech devices.

£ 40.00 £ 36.00

Technical Day Hiker: 25 – 45 litres


Type of walker: You are someone who enjoys longer and more remote day walks in all seasons, you possibly enjoy scrambles or more technical routes in summer and are likely to tackle routes with crampons and axes in winter. You want space, comfort and versatility in your rucksack, day hikes and treks are your thing and you need a quality pack to make the most of the mountains and get off the beaten track!

Things to look for: In this category a pack that is tough and user friendly is key. You want it to fit well and not get in the way or be too large to hinder your movement in the mountains. You will be carrying the standard array of kit but would like space for winter layers, a small selection of climbing gear for scrambles and attachments for tools and crampons in winter.

 

how to choose the right backpack

We recommend:

Deuter Futura 30

Futura 30

Futura 30

Built for a solid day out on the hill with a little extra room for any extra kit. The Futura 30 by Deuter features the new Aircomfort Sensic system provides a lightweight, breathable and all round comfortable system spreading the weight evenly across the shoulders and hips. When your pack is holding more weight, you'll stay comfortable thanks to the pull-forward adjustable straps. Maximum ventilation is also achieved through the seamless Aircomfort mesh net.

£ 115.00

Salomon Out Day 20+4

Out Day 20+4

Out Day 20+4

A lightweight, fully featured backpack for one-day mountain trips. A flexible daypack suited to climbers, mountaineers and trailblazers. New for 2019, the Out Day series features Salomon's new MotionFit harness system, a snug and supportive fit that moves as you move to ensure you're comfortable all day. It offers a variety of stash points and holders and is also compatible with both bladders and Salomon's 500ml soft flasks.

£ 90.00 £ 81.00

Backpacker: 45+ litres

Type of walker: 

 

Things to look for:

backpacking buying guide

We recommend:

Climber: 30 – 50 litres


Type of walker: Climbing is hard on gear so you need tough and reliable equipment that will stand up to the abuses of summer cragging, winter climbing and Alpine adventures. You don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles of more fancy hiking packs but you need a good fit and the capacity to carry ropes, racks, helmets and possibly even bivi gear.

Things to look for: The pack must fit closely to the back and be able to sit clear of the climbing harness. It is also important to consider your range of movement while wearing the pack; you don’t want to find you can’t raise your head while wearing a helmet as you will struggle to look up a rock face!

 

best climbing backpacks

We recommend: 

Deuter Guide 35+

Guide 35+

Guide 35+

The Deuter Guide 35+ Backpack is constructed from an incredibly durable 330D Micro Rip Pro fabric which offers superb abrasion resistance. The perfect companion for larger mountaineering and alpine climbing adventures, capable of enduring the harshest of conditions. It features a streamlined Alpine Back System which offers an extremely supportive body-hugging fit for complete load control. The aluminium X-frame will help you carry all that essential climbing equipment whilst also remaining comfortable.

£ 135.00

Arcteryx Alpha FL 45 Backpack

Alpha FL 45 Backpack

Alpha FL 45 Backpack

The Alpha FL (Fast & Light) 45 litre backpack is no exception. Every element is carefully considered and this dedication to a design ethic turned many heads. With no extraneous materials, the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 sheds grams without sacrificing strength or performance. The Alpha FL pack was created for those who want a light, durable and highly weather resistant pack that is pared down to be as simple as possible. The Alpha Series of products from Arc'teryx have met the needs of serious expedition climbers and Alpinists for nearly 20 years. In a time when so many outdoor equipment manufacturers are tailoring their products for the more profitable mass-market sector, the Alpha Series remains true to its extreme environment purpose.

£ 160.00 £ 144.00

Fast and Light: 15-25 litres

Type of Walker: This is a fairly open ended category as you could fit into any of the above but just want a lighter pack.

Things to look for: Obviously the sacrifice in this category is durability as the packs must be made of thinner materials to save weight, but you most definitely don’t need to sacrifice comfort. There are a range of packs available in every category we have defined above, that have been slimmed down and tweaked to be super light yet still comfortable. If you like to count the grams and move quickly in the mountains then these are the rucksacks for you.

 

We recommend: 

technical backpack for hiking

Osprey Exos 38

Exos 38

Exos 38

The Exos 38 is a top loading technical men's rucksack designed for classic days out on the hill or ultralight overnight mountain missions. A premium backpack featuring the innovative AirSpeed™ ventilated trampoline suspended mesh back system which is purpose-built for high output mountainous conditions. Featuring 100 denier high tenacity nylon for durable protection and the Exoform hip belt and harness system provides a stable and secure load that distributes weight evenly and comfortably.

£ 120.00 £ 108.00

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Speed Lite 20

Speed Lite 20

An ultralight pack for alpine adventures and athletic mountain pursuits. The Speed Lite 20 by Deuter may be minimal but it still offers incredible comfort and ventilation thanks to its Lite Air System technology. The Delrin U-Frame distributes your load perfectly and the Lite Air back panel provides comfort, stability, and breathability. The handy hip fins will also ensure the weight is distributed evenly with zipped mesh pockets for your trail mix or extra piece of Tiffin. It also features a detachable hip belt and a stretch front pocket for your gloves or extra gear.

£ 65.00

Lifestyle: Up to 15 litres

 

Type of walker:

 

Things to look for:

Lifestyle backpack buying guide

Fitting the Rucksack

Now you have decided which rucksack you’d like to buy, getting the right fit is the next thing to worry about.

Sometimes a certain rucksack design may just not be for you, in which case its back to the drawing board – if it doesn’t fit right it will only become annoying or uncomfortable when you’re using it.

The essentials are outlined below, but nothing beats coming into the store for a fitting with one of our trained staff.

  1. Choosing the right size – Most rucksacks will come in a range of back length sizes the first thing to do is measure your back to find the appropriate size, in store we have a back measuring device that easily shows us the size you need, but if you’re not able to come in for a fit then the measurement is from the level of your iliac crest (the top of your hipbones) to your C7 (the knobby bone at the base of your neck).
  2. Weighting the pack – It is important to put some weight in the rucksack before trying it as this will simulate how it will feel when you’re using it, it will also make the straps sit correctly and will show if any of them dig in or are uncomfortable. When putting weight in the bag don’t just chuck it in the bottom as this will drag the pack down and be unrealistic. The weight should be placed around the centre of the bag so use a coat or something to pad out the bottom of the bag. Obviously use a similar amount of weight as you expect to carry!
  3. The fit – When trying the rucksack, ensure that the waist strap is sitting on your hips and tighten the shoulder straps accordingly you should then find a mirror and check that all of the padding is in contact with your body, any gaps are bad and will cause rubbing and discomfort in use. If you do find gaps or find the waist strap is sitting too high, then in some models you can adjust the back length of the pack within each size to get a better fit. If this is not possible you should select a different size pack and try again.
Backpack fitting guide. Find the right size bag

Now you’ve found the perfect bag in the correct size, its time to hit the trail and put it to good use! Don’t forget to tag us in your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #foreveryadventure.

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