Guide to Buying Backpacks
Why Should You Buy A Backpack?
Using shoulder bags, worn either on one shoulder or across the body will still leave the bag free to move and slip around. If you are hiking or walking over rocks or mud, the swing of your bag can be enough to off-balance you. A backpack would be securely fastened to you and would be less likely to cause a slip. If you are not used to carrying an Exotic backpack there is a simple test you can do which may be quite an eye opener.
Next time you are out shopping or commuting to work take note of which arm/shoulder you usually carry your bag on. On the return journey try to carry the bag on the opposite side of your body, this will probably feel quite uncomfortable – the reason for this is that either you have developed stronger muscles on one side of your body, or in the case of shoulder bags, you have learn to hold the bag on by moving your shoulder up and down. Both of these options could suggest that you are walking in a lopsided manner; this potentially can damage our spines. So the carrying of an uneven load can be harmful and should be avoided if we want to keep our back in good order. The design of a backpack should allow one to carry your load evenly, you will probably also find that you can carry a heavier weight without straining any muscles
Finding the Right Backpack
For extended trips into the back country, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to carry life-sustaining supplies on your back. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a backpack:
Internal vs. External
Up until late 1970’s, external frame packs – which consist of an exposed, lightweight metal frame attached to a fabric pack-bag – were the only thing going. In recent years, though, packs that place the support structure of the pack inside the pack, known as internal frame packs, have boomed in popularity.
The good news about internal frame packs is that they hold the weight of your load close to your body, making it easier to maintain your balance on uneven terrain. Meanwhile, internals provide stiffness and support, but they are not completely rigid, which makes them more flexible when you’re doing active sports. With the added flexibility comes a high degree of compressibility, meaning you can use the pack’s compression straps to cinch down your load and keep items from shifting and throwing you off balance. Internals also sport slimmer shapes that allow for more arm movement in all directions – another big plus for off-trail bushwhackers, skiers and climbers. Last but not least, internal frame packs offer a greater range of adjust ability in the shoulder harness and hip-belt than external frame packs.
There are some negatives for internals. First, once packed, it can be difficult to grab needed items out of them quickly. And because internal frame packs consolidate the load into a single, body-hugging unit, proper packing is very important. To distribute the weight properly, you should pack your heaviest items close to your back and in the middle portion of the pack-bag. Plan on getting a sweaty back with an internal, too, given the fact that they are pressed right against you. Finally, internal frame packs are priced higher than external models.
External frame packs are very good at focusing the weight of a load directly to the right place: your load-loving hips. While internals, when properly packed, do this effectively, too, you can always rest assured that an external will distribute the load evenly, no matter how unevenly packed it may be. Externals also offer easy access to your gear via multiple, easily-accessible compartments. Plus, because externals don’t situate the load directly against your back, you’ll enjoy far more air flow. Finally, if you’re on a budget, or you’re buying for a growing child, externals are more affordable.