When choosing a rucksack you need to first answer a few questions which will help you to select the best...
When choosing a rucksack you need to first answer a few questions which will help you to select the best pack for your needs. Firstly, what capacity or volume pack do you need? For anything under 40 litres take a look at our daypack department but anything over 40 litres is a rucksack proper and you can browse our range here. After you have worked out how much space you'll need think about how long you will be away for and wearing the pack for. Are you going for a week or more or, are you going for a few days? Will you be camping or is the pack for other kit? Are you looking for comfort or are you more interested in saving weight and going ultralight?
Choosing the right capacity is very important. You don't want to have to lug a half empty backpack with you but remember, the larger the rucksack then more it will weigh empty and therefore the more weight will be on your back. We suggest for a 2 night trip look at the 50 to 60 litre packs and for anything up to 5 days look for an 80 litre pack. If you're away for longer than a week then look for something that's 80 litres and upwards. Bear in mind that if you're hiking in the winter you are more likely to take more kit and heavier clothing which will bulk out your rucksack.
If you're camping on your trip then look for a rucksack with a dedicated tent or bivy compartment. These are usually found on the base of your rucksack.
All of our rucksacks are top loading backpacks so you gain access from the top. This allows for easy stuffing into the bag and offers plenty of room. Rucksacks over 40 litres will include side compression straps. These can be tightened and compress the pack so that it doesn't overbalance you and cause problems walking! To help with this always pack heaviest items at the bottom of your rucksack. Look out for rucksacks that have extra access panels on the side or base so that you don't need to empty contents out of the top to get to something lower down. This is a great feature if you're carrying a lot of kit or if it's raining.
While we're on the subject of rain look out for a rucksack that is listed with a raincover. No rucksack is waterproof, unless you specifically find a dry bag style pack. Our range of rucksacks are water resistant and some come with a roll away cover to protect kit inside.
When you're browsing our range of rucksacks from The North Face, Berghaus and Gregory you'll see that they are quality packs with all the bells and whistles but look out for elastic mesh side pockets for stashing bottles on the move, bungee cord fronts for storing waterproofs or a climbing helmet and hydration sleeves for keeping a bladder.
Other extras are more important though such as an adjustable back system. Back systems are back panels that might be well ventilated or sit further away from the back for comfort. When a back system is adjustable it allows for the shoulder harness to be lengthened or shortened for a better fit. These can add extra weight to a rucksack but are great for if you are in between lengths on a fixed backpack. Stabiliser straps can be found on a hipbelt and connect the belt to the base of the rucksack. They will improve balance when worn snuggly. You can find a similar system on the Berghaus Bioflex rucksacks. Most rucksacks now offer a sternum or chest strap as standard which fits across the chest and connect to shoulder staps to boost stability which is great for hikes on uneven terrain.
Finally lets look at weight saving rucksacks. These ultralight rucksacks are stripped down packs with a thinner denier material that will reduce weight on your back. Ultralight backpacking takes some dedication; you won't get adjustable back systems or padded belts but if you're dedicated to trekking ultralight then you'll be light on your feet and walk that little bit faster for longer.