Between a half-day hike and an expedition lasting several weeks, there are worlds apart. For every adventure out there exists a suitable backpack option that makes a trusty companion. The size of the backpack depends primarily on the destination, the type of accommodation, board and required equipment – in other words: How much luggage needs to fit?
Which type of backpack fits best?
Where are you heading to?
If you are hiking in Scandinavia, you need warmer clothing than in the Mediterranean – and therefore additional storage space in your backpack. If you have to be prepared for rain, you need more change of underwear and possibly a second pair of shoes.
How long are you on the road?
A few hours, a day or a week? Depending on the duration of the tour, you have more or less luggage. However, this general rule only applies up to a certain point. Because on an eight-month backpacking trip, you should not take more luggage with you than what you usually need for roughly two weeks.
Where will you stay overnight?
If you have a roof over your head every night, you logically need less luggage than someone who wants to camp or bivouac.
Are you traveling alone, in pairs or a group?
There are many things that you absolutely need on a (long-distance) hike – but one exemplar is sufficient. From a hiking map to a pocket knife to a tent: some equipment can be used by all group members together.
Do you eat in restaurants or do you bring your own food?
Eating in restaurants is much more expensive than bringing food yourself. However, it saves an incredible amount of space in the backpack, especially during longer tours.
Touring backpack for extensive activities
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Different sizes of backpacks
In the following, we introduce you to three types of backpacks: the day pack, the touring backpack and the trekking backpack. All three differ in size, but also in features.
The daypack: well equipped for a hike
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A daypack holds – as the name already suggests – the luggage that you will need during one eventful day.
Provisions, sun protection, a spare shirt and a camera, as well as the odd souvenir and a rain jacket for emergencies, are stored in it.
With a volume of up to 25 liters, the daypack is also ideal for leisure activities, education and work.
Despite its comparatively low weight, a daypack can be quite heavy. That's why you should make sure when buying a backpack that it has a sound carrying system with padded straps and a belly strap that takes the strain off your shoulders.
Many daypacks do not have an integrated rain cover to save weight. However, having one is recommendable if you want to be out in nature a lot.
The touring backpack: on the road for a weekend trip
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With a capacity of 25 to 40 liters, this backpack is ideal for hut tours and weekend trips. It holds several sets of clothes, a toilet bag, a second pair of shoes, a book or a parlor game.
A touring backpack usually has several compartments inside so that the equipment can be easily organized. All compartments should be accessible from the outside to avoid unpacking everything constantly. Mesh pockets, elastics and loops provide additional storage space.
Due to their higher weight, touring backpacks usually fit snugly against the body (in contrast to the air-permeable carrying system of daypacks). This makes the correct fit and good padding all the more important.
The trekking backpack: let the adventure begin!
Photo: Patrick Hendry, CC0, unsplash.com
Tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, dishes and food for several days – a trekking backpack is a must. Thanks to its large storage capacity of up to 90 liters, everything you need for a trip lasting several weeks is included.
Trekking backpacks are very stable, mostly waterproof (or at least with an integrated rain cover) and very comfortable to carry due to their well-padded straps and belts. But this comfort clearly has its price.
As with touring backpacks, you should make sure that the compartments are easily accessible. Compression straps are also crucial for optimal weight distribution on the back. Low empty weight is somewhat secondary compared to the padding.