Guide to packs: which should I choose?
Choosing the right backpack for your next outdoor or travel adventure can make all the difference. To help you make an informed decision, here’s a general rundown on the six types of packs and bags available.
Ideal for the frequent flyer, jetting between cities with minimal transport changes, trolley cases are wheeled upright travel bags that feature extendable handles. The wheels mean you can simply roll and go – no back carrying required – making them super convenient and easy to use, that is unless you’ll be hauling your luggage over uneven surface or frequently in and out of transport. Some trolley bags feature a hard-shell for added durability protection.
Hybrid trolley backpacks
Hybrid trolley backpacks have the convenience of two-wheels and can easily be converted from trolley bag to backpack. Wheel it through the airport, then carry it on your back through busy cobbled streets, on and off various transportation, and upstairs with ease.
Travel packs are designed for exactly that, to enhance your travel experience. Generally speaking, travel packs feature lockable zips that open like a normal suitcase so you can easily access whatever you need quickly and hassle-free. They often feature multiple compartments to hold clothes, toiletries, electronics and shoes.
Other key characteristics can include a detachable daypack for short excursions and a harness that can be covered up to avoid the straps getting caught in the luggage conveyer belt, storage compartments, car doors etc. Features such as a removable daypack, harness cover and top carry handles add convenience but also weight, which is why this pack is best suited to travel than hiking. Travel packs are not intended for serious outdoor expeditions as they don’t have the technical features and ergonomics of packs designed for hiking and trekking.
The best hiking backpacks are designed for optimal load carrying experience. This means, they’re designed so that the majority of the weight is carried on your hips close to the centre of your body and they have plenty of adjustment points, such as hipbelt, shoulder straps and sternum strap.
As multi-day hiking adventures require you to spend hours up hours carrying your load on your back, it’s essential you select a hiking pack with a harness system that best suits your body, fit is king for optimum comfort and support.
Mountain sports packs
Mountain sports packs are engineered for performance and function in extreme conditions. They’re generally designed with robust and durable fabrics and construction to withstanding rugged conditions, and are mostly made with a single compartment – with no superfluous zips. The same approach goes in to the harness design, with focus again is on durability and reliability over ‘frills’. Mountain sports packs also feature attachment points for ice tools, skis and snowboard.
Most day packs are small backpacks with simple shoulder straps and sometimes basic hip strap or hip belt. They can be used for a range of day adventures, from hikes to fishing trips and carry-on luggage, but are not designed for carrying heavy loads on multi-day adventures.
Hydration packs are typically small and lightweight packs with a water bladder and drinking tube, ideal for running, mountain biking, hiking, horseriding and other outdoor adventures where you’re physically exerting yourself but don’t want to have to stop to rehydrate. Well-designed hydration packs often have excellent ventilation to manage perspiration as well as reflective detail so you can be seen in low-light.