|It used to be that nothing could compare to a hot meal cooked over an open fire while camping beneath the stars. However, since the advent of fire restrictions and greater environmental awareness, choosing a lightweight, portable stove for your camping/travelling adventure as an alternative has become less of a matter of choice to become more a matter of necessity.|
While this may have an adverse effect on the camping ambiance it is probably a plus for your diet as camping stoves offer a much cleaner, more efficient and more versatile method of providing hot food and drinkable water.
To find the right backpacking stove it is important to consider the kinds of trips you want to take and the sort of meals you want to enjoy (culinary ability aside).
Also consider how many people you will be cooking for, what kinds of temperatures you will be cooking in (which may affect the kinds of fuels you burn) and in which areas or countries you will be (this may determine what fuels are readily available).
Stove shapes, sizes and designs -
Backpacking stoves come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and designs - from lightweight micro-stoves that fit in your pocket to two plate versions that would fill your pack. Unless you are car camping or travelling with a large group of people, it makes sense to stick with the lightest, most compact model you can find which accommodates any other limiting factors (like fuel availability, altitude etc.).
It is important to look at stove design from the functional aspects of reliability, usability and weight and space restrictions.
- How easy is the stove to set up? Does it require assembly every time it's used? If so, is the assembly easy or complex?
- Is the stove sturdy? Is it stable on uneven ground? How hard is it to balance a pot on top?
- If a gas canister is used, is it easy to attach and remove? Can it be detached before it's completely empty?
- How easy is the stove to light? Does it require priming? Can it be primed with fuel from the stove itself?
- How easy is the stove to control? Can the heat output be adjusted easily? How easy is the stove to maintain in the field?
When packing stoves away you should also consider
- If the stove can be disconnected from its fuel supply
- If the stove can be unhooked from external fuel bottles for easier storage in your backpack and less chance of breakage
- How the stove folds up/collapses - The legs, base supports and pot-holder arms of many backpacking stoves can be collapsed or folded for easier packing
- Whether it can fit inside your cookware - Some stoves are designed to fit inside popular cook sets
How the Stoves Work -
Most backpacking stoves have two main parts, a fuel container and a burner unit. The two can either be combined in a single piece or connected by a short fuel line. When a stove is in operation, fuel is forced from the fuel container into the burner unit by pressure. This pressure is either already present in a pressurised fuel container or it must be created (by you) using a small pump device. This pressure forces fuel through the fuel line and out through a small nozzle or ""jet"" in the burner unit where it mixes with oxygen and is ignited.
To burn efficiently, fuel must be ignited in its gaseous form. Liquid fuel stoves are designed to vaporise the fuel just prior to ignition by passing the fuel close to the hot burner unit before it reaches the jet. Heat from the burner (combined with the pressure in the fuel container) turns the liquid fuel into a gas as it flows through the fuel line. Priming is the process used to pre-heat the burner and initiate the vaporisation of the fuel (discussed later).
In the case of LPG stoves, heat isn't required to initiate this process as the fuel is already a gas by the time it leaves the canister.
When the stove is in use -
Where you use the stove is often as important a consideration as the above questions, the environment the stove is being used as this has a substantial impact on stove reliability and performance. At higher altitudes, the surrounding air is less dense than at lower elevations, thereby limiting the oxygen available to the stove for combustion. This results in lower boiling temperatures and longer boiling times
Another factor affecting stove performance is wind. Wind can decrease a stove's performance to an enormous extent depending on the specific conditions. The use of wind screens and heat exchangers and heat reflectors can contribute to decreasing the effects of wind on stove performance.
NB: In general, LPG stoves are more affected by temperature than other types of stoves because the user has no control over the internal pressure of the gas canister (no pump).
|Fuel Types –
Choosing the right fuel option for your stove is one of the primary considerations. Take a few minutes to decide which one will work best for you and this will also help narrow down the number of choices. The various fuels and their benefits/weaknesses are discussed below.
Liquid Petroleum Gas
This is the generic name for the perhaps more commonly known fuels butane, isobutane and propane. The types of stoves that use these are probably the easiest ones to use and require the least maintenance. The fuel is contained in pressurised canisters, which are available in most industrialised parts of the world, though they are almost impossible to find in some regions.
- Convenient, clean burning and easy to light
- Burn hot immediately and do not require priming
- Can be adjusted easily for simmering
- Can't be spilt
- More expensive than other fuel types
- You must carry and dispose of the fuel canisters (most are non-recyclable)
- Performance may decrease in temperatures below freezing
- Fuel is not always readily available
In general, LP stoves are more affected by temperature than other types of stoves because the user has no control over the internal pressure of the gas chamber (no pump). Liquid butane vaporises in its canister, creating the pressure that pushes it through the fuel line. As the temperature drops outside, the pressure inside the canister decreases. At sea level, normal butane stops vaporising at 0o C. Butane/Propane and isobutane work too much lower temperatures depending on the blend (ratio of butane to propane). As a result, they produce a more powerful flame at lower temperatures than other canister fuels. However, as this fuel vaporises, it cools its canister, and this evaporative cooling can reduce stove performance. To counteract this, you can:
- place the canister upright in 3cm of cool water;
- warm the canister with your hands; or
- alternate stove use between two canisters.
Recommendation – These stoves are ideal for general camping where you require quick and easy cooking and value ease of use over carrying extra fuel canisters and versatility.
White Gas and Multi-Fuel stoves (Unleaded petrol, Aviation fuel, solvent)
|Probably one of the most popular types of stoves around, white gas and multi-fuel stoves can be used in both backcountry and international environments. White gas is also sold as Naphtha, camp fuel, or lighter fuel and can be found in outdoor stores, some service stations and hardware stores in North America, Australia and New Zealand. The scarcity of white gas in other parts of the world makes the multi-fuel option of these types of stoves more important.|
These types of stoves are easy to operate and maintain, and are generally considered quite reliable. However, because of the volatility of the fuel, their use may not be suitable in all environments. Relative to LPG stoves, these stoves can also require more maintenance.
Many (but not all) white gas stoves can be adapted for multi-fuel use (though they tend to be a little more expensive) which means with simple modifications, they can operate using other fuels like kerosene, automotive and aviation fuel. These types of stoves are highly suited to users who may find themselves in environments where white gas is not available. Generally the use of fuels like automotive and aviation fuel, kerosene and the like are not recommended because of the additives placed in some of these products, which can result in very dirty ""burns"". This can not only release toxic fumes, but also leave a substantial amount of residue in fuel lines and tents.
White gas -
- Inexpensive, easy to find throughout most industrialised countries
- Clean, easy to light
- Spilled fuel evaporates quickly
- Volatile (spilled fuel can ignite quickly)
- Priming is required (fuel from the stove can be used)
- Can be hard to find in some countries
Unleaded petrol, Aviation fuel, Solvent -
- Very inexpensive, easy to find throughout the world
- Burns dirty/sooty
- Extremely volatile
Recommendation – These stoves are great overall performers, perfect for travel around the world (including remote regions if you have a multi fuel option) and suitable in just about any weather conditions. They are generally reliable, inexpensive and efficient.
The use of kerosene is often dictated by the country you are travelling in and many of the other fuel alternatives are not available. Kerosene stoves also require the use of white gas, alcohol or priming paste as a separate priming agent in order to facilitate vaporisation.
- Easy to find (throughout the world)
- High heat output
- Spilled fuel does not ignite easily
- Can be used in many of the multi-fuel stoves
- Somewhat messy (burns dirty, smelly)
- Priming is required (best if different priming fuel is used), as kerosene tends to gum up stove parts
- Spilled fuel evaporates slowly.
Recommendation – Kerosene burning stoves offer a cheap and versatile fuel option for backpackers that plan on travelling off the beaten track in less developed countries.
Methylated spirits or Denatured Alcohol
| While unavailable in some parts of the world, this is the only fuel that does not require pressure for stove operation. Unfortunately, methyl alcohol does not burn at very high temperature and will produce about half the amount of heat as the same weight in gasoline or kerosene.
- Lower heat output, so cooking takes longer and requires more fuel
- Fuel can be hard to find in many countries
Recommendation – These stoves offer an environmentally sensitive option for backpackers and campers who enjoy the quiet of these slow burning stoves and are not pushed for time on their travels. It is possible to carry an extremely reliable, light and compact emergency stove which using this as a fuel source as a back up stove.
Priming is the process of igniting a small amount of stove fuel (or other flammable substance) at the base of the burner unit to warm up the fuel's path before the stove is lit. This process heats up the burner, the fuel line and the generator so that when the stove is first turned on, liquid fuel will come out of the jet already vaporised for easy lighting.
Priming is not necessary for stoves that use compressed gas fuels, since the fuel is already a gas when it reaches the burner. Some regular stove fuels (like white gas) can be used both for priming and regular stove operation. Others (like unleaded gas or kerosene) do not work well for priming. If you have trouble using your regular fuel for priming, carry a small container of priming paste or alcohol to use instead.
Stove Performance -
One of the best ways to compare performance is to review instore comparison charts or research any available stove literature. Some of the more telling statistics include
- Average boiling time - This measures how hot the stove burns.
- Water boiled per unit of fuel - This measures how efficient the stove is.
- Burn time at maximum flame - This measures how long the stove will burn on a given supply of fuel before it has to be refilled
- Weight, shape and size
Performance and User Tips -
- Search for stability. If your cook pot is larger than 2 litres or you often cook on uneven surfaces, buy a stove with wide pot supports and legs that provide a stable base.
- Use a lid when cooking.
- Choose convenience. If you camp only in temperatures above freezing, choose a canister stove for maximum flame adjust ability, convenience, and ease of use.
- Assess fuel availability. When you travel by plane to your backpacking destinations, you have to buy fuel there or ship canister fuels separately. Some types are hard to find at local gear stores, but white gas is widely available in Australia.
- Keep it light. Long-distance backpackers should consider a liquid-fuel stove because of the fuel's weight savings and storage flexibility.
- Invest in versatility. Overseas travellers should invest in a multi-fuel stove that burns kerosene and unleaded petrol (use a coffee filter or old t-shirt to filter all of your liquid fuel before use).
- Think cold. If you cook in freezing temperatures, get a liquid-fuel stove, preferably one with controls that are easily manipulated while wearing gloves or mittens.
- Learn how to clean and maintain your stove properly. Practice by taking your stove apart at home.
- Block the wind. If your stove doesn't come with a windscreen, buy one.
- If you cook on snow, get a base that fits your stove, or use an old metal plate. You can also use the sun or body heat to partially melt snow (rather than your stove) and a heat exchanger will improve fuel economy.
- Use alcohol for priming (this will help keep your stove soot-free).
Safety Tips –
- Before using any portable stove, it is necessary to read all user manuals
- Try lighting the stove before a trip so you have an idea of how it works before you really need it
- Although you may read of winter campers using their stoves inside tents, it is not recommended because of the possibilities carbon monoxide poisoning and the dangers of flare-ups
- Do not let a stove's fuel source overheat
- Carry fuel in only the manufacturer's recommended containers
- Check the stove for leaks before usage
- Never open the fuel bottle or stove tank when the stove is in operation
- Regularly maintain your stove
A well-chosen pack/bag can take much of the worry and hassle out of travelling. Experienced travellers know that a pack that combines packing convenience, carrying comfort, versatility and that is large enough to carry your gear, can make all the difference when you are on the road. Your travel accessories should be chosen for their convenience and quality, so you can spend less time looking after your gear and more time exploring and experiencing new places.
How to choose a travel pack/bag/luggage
There is no piece of gear that is perfect for all kinds of adventure travel. That is why there are so many different types of packs, bags and luggage available. The difficulty is in knowing which one is right for you and that all depends on the type of travel you plan to do and your packing style. Consider the types of trips you will be taking, what kinds of activities you plan on doing and how much gear you want to bring.
The most common fabrics used are overwhelmingly texturised coated synthetics (e.g. Cordura®) and to a lesser extent canvas. The full synthetics are used because they are more abrasion resistant, stronger and lighter than canvas.
Texturised nylons: these include materials such as Cordura®. They are very strong and abrasion resistant.
Polyester: Entry level material quoted in denier thickness but can be very strong these days
Canvas: This includes manufacturer specified canvas fabrics. Although slightly heavier, canvas is more water-resistant than nylon. Many will have nylon abrasion patches sewn over the wear areas as well.
Decide on a Size
Both the volume of the pack (in litres) and its size are important. Some people with a big pack are tempted to carry more than is needed, but this is really only a problem of self-control.
Remember these maxims:
- We travellers tend to fill up whatever bag we are packing no matter how big it is.
- You can always send souvenirs home.
Find a pack that is big enough to hold your necessary gear, but small enough that you can carry it comfortably day after day.
30 to 50 litres: For weekend trips, a carry-on-size travel backpack or bag is big enough for most travelers particularly in warmer climes. A good size for smaller person who is traveling with a partner who could help carry the load of shared items on a longer trip.
NB: Most airlines allow carry-on baggage no larger than 20cm x 30cm x 50cm(approx). A few airlines do allow slightly larger baggage.
50 to 65 litres: For 1- to 2-week trips, if you can pack light, opt for a carry-on-size bag. If you pack a lot of gear, go for a slightly larger travel backpack or duffel/tote bag.
65 to 85 litres plus: For trips lasting a month or longer, choose a travel backpack or large duffel/tote.
The lower end of this range is good for most travellers. Don't buy a backpack that is too big if you don't anticipate needing the space. The smaller and lighter your load the easier it is to travel.
Types of Pack
Travelpacks: This style based on an internal-frame backpack can be carried as a backpack or duffel. The backpacks have good suspension systems, including a hipbelt. Pack straps can be hidden behind the back panel for airline travel. Most also feature a removable daypack for short excursions. These travel packs are best for travellers who will be moving around a lot and carrying all their gear. They are not intended for travelling on a serious outdoor expedition, as they lack the technical features of an internal-frame backpack (particularly ergonomics and waterproofness).
Hybrid Packs: These are backpacks that are designed for extended wilderness trips and yet contain the features of the more traditional travelpacks. If you travel to go camping, bushwalking or climbing, you should consider one of these packs because they are made specifically for your activities. They feature good support and make it more comfortable to carry a lot of gear over long periods of time.
Convertible wheeled luggage: Some travel packs that convert to either a handheld bag or backpack have wheels for convenience in airports, hotel lobbies and urban areas. Several come with a removable daypack for short trips. This luggage is best for travellers who occasionally venture out to remote areas but who usually stay in an urban environment. However, these packs lack the sophisticated suspension system of travel backpacks and therefore are not great to carry for longer periods of time.
Duffel or Tote bags: These bags come in a huge range of sizes and are typically less expensive than other types of luggage. Smaller duffels are convenient if you travel light and fast on shorter trips, and if you don't plan on moving around a lot once you get there. The larger ones can be awkward to carry when they are full so large-capacity wheeled duffels are best if you have to transport a lot of gear to your destination. Good at transporting gear from one place to another it is another thing if you are required to carry it very far.
Additional features to consider
Removable daypack: These usually detach from the compartment of the pack or bag and are convenient for day use.
Split compartments and pockets: This is where the main pack is split into two compartments, allowing easier access to your gear. Combined with external and internal pockets they make it easy to organise, pack and unpack.
Compression straps: Are the straps located on the outside of the pack. You can use them to squeeze a bulky bag down to a smaller size or pack on load overflow.
How to get a travelpack that fits
Forget about the colour and the features for a moment. What really matters when selecting a new travelpack is making sure that it's a good fit for your body. A pack that is too short will result in a hipbelt riding up around your waist, restricting breathing. If the pack is too long, the result will be ill-fitting shoulder straps and a gap between the pack and your back. Make sure the hipbelt sits firmly on your hips, and the yoke (the place where the shoulder harness comes out of the pack) is about 5cms below your C7 vertebrae (the bone that sticks out at the base of your neck). If the pack has a foam hipbelt, its centre should rest on your iliac crest - the front-most point of your hip bone.
Most equipment manufacturers now specifically make a range of women's travelpacks. These designs take into account that women generally have shorter torsos, wider hips and narrower shoulders than men. Because women's hips are more angular than men's, they form a natural cradle for the hip belt, especially one that is wider at the bottom than the top. The pack's chest strap should lie flat across your sternum, and not interfere with your breasts or your throat.
You want to choose a pack well suited to your individual dimensions, then you need to customize it to your body shape. Here are some tips to help you:
Back length is a crucial measurement. It is important to distinguish between your height and the length of your torso. Just because you are a certain height — say a 6' female or 5' 9" male — does not mean you automatically need a "large" or "tall" pack. Your back length, not your height, determines your pack size.
General scale to establish what size range your back length falls into:
Small: Up to 38cm
Medium/Regular: 38 – 43 cm
Large/Tall: 43cm plus
Note: Pack manufacturers typically use general terms (small, medium, large) to identify their frame sizes; look at each pack's technical specifications to find the actual numeric range.
- The padded sections of the shoulder straps should wrap around the crest of your shoulders comfortably and attach to the frame about 2cms below that point. No gaps should appear.
- Check the load-lifter/top tension straps. These should attach to your shoulder straps at a point just above your collarbone and just below the top of your shoulders. From there, they should rise up to join with the frame at an angle of between 40 and 50 degrees. If the angle is higher than that, your frame is too long. Any lower and your shoulders will carry too much of the load.
- Check the shoulder strap length and width. The buckle on the strap should be far enough below your armpit that it won't chafe. The straps should be far enough apart that they don't squeeze your neck, but close enough together that they don't slip off of your shoulders during hiking. The width is sometimes adjustable.
- Women need to pay special attention to the fit of shoulder straps. On some unisex packs, the distance between shoulder straps may be too wide, or the straps themselves are wide enough to gouge an armpit or breast. If you find a good fit is elusive, seek out a pack designed specifically for women.
- Check for a good torso fit. If the pack fits you correctly, you should be able to redistribute the weight of the pack between your shoulders and your hips simply by loosening and tightening your shoulder straps slightly.
Adjust the sternum strap. Position it about 5cms below your collarbone. You should be able to breathe comfortably when the strap is fastened. It is not essential that you keep your sternum strap fastened but it may be helpful when you are negotiating uneven ground.
Some questions to ask:
- Does the pack feel good on your back?
- Does it pinch or bind or unusually restrict your movement?
- Can you look up without hitting the pack with your head?
- Can you squat down without cutting off the circulation to your legs?
Travel accessories can save you time and hassle when traveling. The addition of a few simple items, like a secure document holder to keep your passport and cash away from prying hands, can make all the difference when you are on the road. However, you don't want to bring so much that your luggage is heavy and awkward to carry. When packing, think about what you really need and what will just take up space.
Here are several options that will make packing and travelling easier and provide some security for your gear:
Daypacks: Include small backpacks, shoulder bags, bum bags or organizers. A daypack is a useful for any trip. It can be small enough to hold just your money, credit cards and passport, or large enough for a camera, water bottle, book and jacket.
Security pouches/wallets: Designed to be worn under your clothes and these are the safest way to carry your money and passport. These security pouches include neck wallets and waist pouches that will keep your money, documents and passport safely hidden.
Organisers: There are a large number of available for tasks from packing to storing. Pack-It-Folders let you experience the joy of finding your clothes organized and wrinkle free. Mesh bags are handy for organizing items like t-shirts, socks and small accessories. While a well-designed toiletry kits can be just right for the essentials. All of these come in a variety of sizes, colours and styles.
Security: The Pacsafe is a stainless-steel web that locks around your pack or duffel to eliminate access to pockets. The locking system with adjustable draw wire and padlock secures your pack to fixed objects to deter theft. Small padlocks or key locks are convenient for locking your pack or duffel zippers together.
Sleeping bag liners: Even if you are staying in a hostel and not carrying your own sleeping bag, they are convenient, since many charge extra for sheets. Having your own sheets can also make you feel more at home, especially if you are sleeping in a new place every night.
Adapters: Are necessary if you plan on taking items like hair dryers, electric shavers and travel irons overseas. They convert foreign voltages to the Australian standard with plug adapters to fit most of the world's outlets.
Multi-tools/penknife: Are available with many different options and tools. Some are small enough to fit on a key ring while others have nearly every tool you could want. At the very least, a knife and bottle opener will be handy for a picnic lunch.
Other Travel Accessories
If you can't leave home without it, likely there is a travel-size version available that will take up less space in your luggage. Other travel accessories range from pegless clotheslines and torches to games and currency converters. Whether or not you need these accessories is dependent on the trip you have got planned.
Bushwalking footwear needs to protect feet from damage and to provide a solid grip. Other considerations, depending on the individual or the trip, may include keeping your feet dry and ankle support. Durability, cost and weight will also come into the equation. The good news is that there are so many good products on the market now that there is bound to be something just right for you - all you have to do is find it.
How to Choose the Right Footwear
The type of environment you will be walking in is a key consideration as a day stroll on your local constructed walking track is a far cry from carrying a backpack for two weeks through the bogs and mountains of Tasmania. The survival of your footwear (materials, construction), the sort of ground you will be traversing, how much you are carrying and the amount of water protection required all need to be factored in.
Personal considerations will include how strong your ankles are, what type of footwear you're used to and the shape and size of your feet. People's feet come in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes, but unfortunately footwear doesn't. It's not uncommon for feet to be slightly different sizes, even up to one full size, which you need to allow for when getting an ideal fit.
For many walkers, the answer is a range of footwear types to cover diverse activities. Although strong sandshoes are still seen around, the advent of modern lightweight boots has almost eliminated the old division between sandshoes and heavy boots.
Consider the type of trip you are planning
Outdoor footwear can be divided into basic categories. You could start your search for the right boots or shoes by focusing on the category that best matches your trip plans.
Sandals - durable, all-purpose sports sandals are designed for walking and water wear with athletically-inspired outsoles for traction on a variety of surfaces. Lightweight sandals offer stability and comfort for everything from day walks to days at the beach.
Approach Shoes - are used to approach various outdoor activities such as rock climbing or paddling. They are great for scrambling, fast hiking, or technical terrain. The emphasis is on lightness and sensitivity, with a function-specific sole which maintains traction on steep gradients. Generally an approach sho won't be lined or insulated so isn't suited to long hikes.
Lightweight walking - these shoes and boots and shoes are designed for day walking and very short overnight trips only. Emphasis is on lightness, comfort, stability and breathability. As a result, they are less supportive and durable than the options below.
Hiking/backpacking - these shoes and boots are designed for use on two to three day walks with light to moderate backpacking loads both on and off the beaten track. Although emphasis is still on lightness and comfort, these boots should also be durable, water resistant and supportive.
Trekking/bushwalking - these shoes and boots are designed for long distance walks over moderate to rough terrain with moderate to heavy backpacking loads. They are designed with multi-day trips in mind. Durable and supportive, they provide a high degree of ankle and foot protection and as a result, they are heavier, and will take longer to break in than hiking boots. Emphasis is on control, long-term support, water-resistance and the boots' ability to withstand abuse. Some are stiff enough to accept crampons for snow/ice travel.
Mountaineering - boots are designed for mountaineering, glacier travel, or aggressive backcountry travel. These boots are stiff and very durable. Mountaineering boots are compatible with step-in crampons for more technical walking/climbing.
The materials used in a given boot or shoe will affect its weight, breathability, durability and water-resistance. Different fabrics can be very similar in performance, so personal preference is often the key when choosing between them.
Full-grain leather - cut from the complete cowhide which retains the hide's tough outer surface, it's denser and therefore more water resistant and supportive. It is used primarily in boots designed for extended trips, heavy loads and hard terrain. It conforms well to the foot over time, can be waterproofed, is abrasion resistant and will last for years when properly cared for. Full-grain leather usually requires a break-in period.
Nubuck leather - is full-grain leather that is distinguished by its sanded, textured finish that looks like suede. This finish is more resistant to marking than a full grain but requires more maintenance. Otherwise it has similar characteristics to full-grain leather.
Suede (split leather) - does not retain the outer skin membrane. Compared to full-grain leather, it is generally less abrasion resistant, is more prone to stretching and less stiff, but still water resistant and durable. Although suede is less appropriate for heavy-duty applications, its flexibility, breathability and lower price make it a good choice for lightweight boots and shoes.
Fabric (usually mesh or 1000-denier nylon) - is often used in lighter shoes and boots for its breathability, low cost and ease of breaking in. Fabric is often used in conjunction with suede or leather to construct footwear that achieves a good balance between support, lightness and breathability. Fabric is difficult to waterproof, but can be treated to become water resistant. It's not as durable as leather, so it is usually found only in lighter-duty footwear.
Plastics (or Nylon) - are used in mountaineering boots. They provide absolute waterproofness and durability. The rigidity of plastic boots makes them well suited to use with crampons in extreme conditions. Plastics, however, will not break in and are used almost exclusively in "double" boots where a padded inner boot buffers the foot from the outer shell.
Waterproof barriers - Lightweight, waterproof barriers (like GORE-TEX® membrane) are built into many boots to enhance water resistance. These barriers are available in a variety of boot styles, from lightweight walking boots right through to the trekking models. Waterproof performance depends upon the type of barrier used, the materials protecting it and how well the boots/shoes are taken care of. If cared for correctly, these waterproof barriers often last longer than the boots themselves.
Liners - Most boots are lined with Cambrelle™, a fabric that absorbs sweat. Some high-end boots are lined with leather, which requires a longer break-in period but results in a custom-molded fit. Cambrelle is a breathable, absorbent lining fabric that transfers moisture away from the skin. It resists odour and mildew.
Leather remains the preferred boot material, although it's often combined with lighter synthetic materials. The best leather is full-grain leather. Lightweight boots may also have this mixed construction, or consist of light (2.0-2.5mm thick) full-grain leather. Heavy backpacking boots are made of full-grain leather, robust stuff 2.5-3.0mm or thicker.
The more seams a boot or shoe has, the higher the risk for leaks or blowouts. Leaking occurs when water seeps through the needle-holes or spaces between the boot panels. Blowouts occur when general wear, repeated flexing or a snag causes stitching to break and the panels to separate. In general, the less seams an upper has, the more water-resistant and more durable it will be.
The connection between the upper and the sole
The soles are either stitched or bonded/cemented to the rest of the boot. Stitching is durable and can be undone to replace the sole. Once it has worn down it is a more expensive process. Bonding is faster and less expensive than stitching, resulting in lower boot prices. Traditionally bonding was not as reliable, but most modern methods produce durable, lost-lasting bonds (depending upon the process and specific glue used). Some bonded boots can now be resoled just like traditional stitch-down models.
The midsole of a boot provides lateral support via a shank - a piece of molded plastic, fibreboard or metal that cradles the foot. To absorb shock it also contains an insert made of EVA, polyurethane or rubber. The shank varies in length depending upon the intended end-use. For trekking or bushwalking a three-quarter or half-length shank will suffice and is more comfortable. Most day walking boots or shoes omit the shank, relying on construction more similar to running shoes. If you are a mountaineer, a full-length shank will hold the foot rigid on difficult terrain.
The outsole of a boot needs to be durable, with a deep tread pattern for grip in a variety of conditions. Typically outsoles are made of rubber, with some companies mixing in sticky rubber for enhanced grip on hard, rocky surfaces. All outsoles must make a trade-off between durability and good grip, softer soles grip well, but wear out fairly quickly.
Once you have narrowed down the options to a handful of boots or shoes, the best way to decide between them is to try them on, as every boot model is built around a different "last" (standard foot shape), so each one will fit you a little differently, but buying online shouldn't get you scared if you measure your foot, follow the brand specific size chart online, and ask the store for some advice if you feel you need to.
Don't rely solely on your usual shoe size when searching for the best fitting boots or shoes as one manufacturer's sizing may vary from another's.
Boots or shoes must fit well, so don't be rushed into buying a pair that only might do. Try to be certain. Following are some tips that apply mostly to boots.
- Before fitting, test the flex of the sole, it must bend where your foot does, at the ball of the foot. Allow for some initial stiffness of the sole.
- Pick the right socks. Wear the type of socks and sock liners that you will be using when you plan to use them, whenever you try on boots.
- If one foot is larger than the other (which is quite common), fit your larger foot first. You may need to use extra socks or an insert to take up extra space in the other boot. Slide your feet forward in the unlaced boots - one finger should fit behind the foot, but not two.
- Kick the feet back in the boots and lace up firmly. The 'ears' of the boot at the lace holes must be well separated.
- Do some deep knee bends. The heels should not rise in the boots more than about 3mm.
- Stand with the heels hooked on the edge of a step and your mass pushing your feet forward in the boots. Your toes must be free to wriggle and should not touch the front of the boots.
- Stand flat on the floor with someone holding the boots to restrain them from moving. Try to move the front of the feet sideways with the heel as the pivot. No side movement of the ball of the foot should be noticeable.
If your feet feel like they are "floating" inside the boots, try a pair half a size down. If your foot feels cramped or your toes make contact with the front or sides of the toe box, try the next size up. If the boots are a little tight sideways, remember that, they often stretch in width, but never change in length - the fitting of heels and toes is more important. New boots may feel a little stiff at first, but they should still be comfortable.
NB. Most manufacturers design footwear for both men and women. Women's are usually distinguished by a narrower heel cup and foot-bed.
Important to note, feet often swell becoming longer and wider, with both walking and the carrying of a load. Your footwear may need to be larger than that usually worn.
Breaking in new boots
Shoes and hybrid lightweight boots usually need little breaking in. It is disastrous however, to start a trip with new leather boots that haven't been worn-in. All too often people buy boots a day or so before departure and the resultant blisters and discomfort ruin the whole trip. If you have not been walking regularly, you may also need to break in your feet. Even joggers can cause rubbing to tender feet on a long walk.
The process of breaking in boots involves getting them to soften and mold to your feet, instead of the factory's, and that basically involves wearing them. The following procedure will work, but it may take longer with tougher boots.
- Apply a waxed-based leather conditioner and warm the boots in the sunshine or a warm room so it soaks in.
- Put the boots on with your walking socks, lace them up and walk them in on generally level ground.
- Keep doing plenty of short walks before going overnight and always keep them laced firmly to prevent movement.
Boot care basics
Keep your boots and shoes clean between uses by brushing off dirt and mud (both can ruin leather over time). Most fabric boots/shoes can be washed on the outside with mild soap and water (not detergent).
If your boots get drenched, stuff them loosely with newpaper and dry them in a warm place. Never rush the drying process by placing them near a fire, heater or other heat source.
Boots, especially leather ones, should be conditioned from time to time to maintain their suppleness. This is true whether you hike in dry, hot conditions or wet, temperate ones.
This is probably one of the most commonly over looked items that the outdoor enthusiast forgets about, yet as part of your kit it should rate amongst the most important. Everybody knows about the importance of good footwear but it does not matter how good your boots are, if your socks are of poor quality or if they are uncomfortable you will end up having issues with your feet. In saying this it makes sense to invest a little extra time and money on a good pair of socks.
A few things to look for when purchasing:
- Good toe and heal impact support.
- Moisture wicking abilities.
- They should provide a reasonable amount of arch support.
- They should be durable.
- And most importantly they should feel comfortable.
Think about the trip ahead:
When choosing socks it’s best to select the pair that’s right for you e.g. Technical walking socks are normally harder wearing, have more cushioning on key pressure points and they provide better temperature control depending on the environment that you are in. It often pays to carry a couple of different types of socks to cover your needs. Below are some categories that socks fall into.
- Sock Liners- These are normally thin, lightweight, moisture wicking socks that are intended to be worn next to skin. Some liners wick sweat away from the foot to help keep you dry, while others are designed to help provide extra warmth should you need it in colder climates. They also act as a barrier to limit the amount of friction between the sock and your skin. They are made to be worn under other socks, as well as on their own.
- Lightweight socks – These socks are often designed for warmer conditions, when doing easier walks or wearing light footwear, they concentrate on their wicking performance and comfort rather than their ability to keep you warm.
- Midweight socks – These socks are made with comfort in mind and normally provide enough cushioning and insulation for colder conditions but also work better with heavier boots and for long trekking. Many good models are made with extra cushioning built into the main impact areas such as the heel and ball of the foot. These socks can be worn with lines to boost warmth and wicking abilities.
- Mountaineering socks – These are the warmest and thickest socks around, they are best suited for longer trips, hard terrain and cold conditions. Normally these socks are not suited for backpacking in warm conditions due to how thick they are. Liners can be worn to help with moisture wicking and blister protection on long treks.
Cotton- It’s breathable, washable, lightweight and it absorbs moisture. Although 100% cotton is not recommended as a good sock material for trekking because it absorbs sweat and dries slowly so it doesn’t have any insulation properties when wet, that means it can become uncomfortable and cause blisters. However when combined with something else like wool, the cotton blend can be great when light walking in summer.
Wool – The original easy care fibre. It features great qualities such as breathability, great shape retention and warmth when wet. Air becomes entrapped between the fibres making it the ideal insulator. Woollen socks also tend to keep your feet drier because it can absorb as much as 30% of its own weight before it starts to feel damp.
Merino wool - This is the finest grade of wool that is sourced from merino sheep. It has all the characteristics of classic wool plus the added features of softness and comfort achieved by the finer fibres. Unlike normal wool merino does not itch, or smell as much, and it holds its shape after repeated washing.
Synthetic fibres - Synthetic materials are made to help wick moisture and insulate like wool, the different materials they use mimic the ability to trap warmth and yet they are softer on the skin. The synthetic wicking materials used in wicking socks are often woven into walking and trekking socks as well to increase the performance. They tend to be better wearing and have the ability to be faster drying. They make these different fabrics in a variety of styles and thicknesses.
Choose the right socks today and your feet will thank you next time you hit the trail.
Sleeping Bag Shapes and Designs
Mummy Design: This sleeping bag is shaped like the old Egyptian mummy, wide across the chest then tapering down to a very narrow width at the foot end (hence the name). Depending on the brand they come with varying length zips down one side of the bag, the shorter the zip means less weight and less heat loss. Usually these are designed for colder conditions like snow or sub zero degrees. For this reason they are normally made with a very good hood and shoulder baffles for heat retention.
Tapered Design: This sleeping bag is not the same as a mummy bag, there is more room at the foot end of the bag allowing you to have better movement and not feel as confined as some people do in the mummy style. It still allows you to get the most out of your sleeping bag warmth wise, and in packing size. The zips on these bags may go down to the bottom and have another zip across your feet, to regulate temperature and so you can open them up like a quilt or Alternately you can zip two of the same bags together, if you have a left and right hand zip.
Rectangular Shape: These sleeping bags tend to be more bulky when packed as opposed to the more tailored shaped bags as above. They are good for people that move around allot in their sleep, and don’t like to feel too restricted. Most will open out into a quilt, with zips that go down one side and across the bottom. These are not designed for extremely cold conditions because you loss to much heat in the excess or wasted space of the bag,many brands have hoods but not all. These are more suitable for warmer climates, car camping and travel.
Single sided: This type of bag is a variation of the rectangular sleeping bag, the prime use of this type of bag is to try and save on pack size and weight by only using the top half of the sleeping bag, it is usually made up with down filled baffles to keep you warm while the underside is either a sleeve or a sheet that you can insert you sleeping mat into for comfort and warmth retention depending on the mat.
Double Sleeping bags: these are designed for the couples that don’t want all the hassle of trying to match up a left and right hand zippered bag and have the join down the centre of the bag, making it hard to get out in the middle of the night without disturbing the other person. These are made with a zip down either side of the sleeping bag, and are often very roomy but due to the size of them they are best suited for car camping.
Specialist Light weight bags: These bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes they are normally orientated towards the more experienced hikers. They are usually made with high quality materials and are packed with features to help save weight and space while travelling.
When it comes to water treatment there are number of different options available. Finding the right water treatment for each individual situation will be dependent on a number of different factors. These include the bacteria that are most prevalent in the particular region in which you are travelling, the time you have available, if the water is cloudy or clear, and what chemicals are prevalent in the water.
This guide will help you understand the most effective portable water purification options that are available.
Iodine is a simple solution that is particularly effective on Giardia, the most common protozoa. It does have a slight odour, sometimes compared to a hospital smell that some people don't like. It is not suitable for anyone with a thyroid problem and prolonged use is not recommended as it potentially can create Iodine compounds.
Silver Ion tablets
Simple and safe. Ideal for base camp, expedition, vacations and travelling where you have a tank and camp set up. Silver Ion is best suited to treating large quantities of water at one time. It will deactivates bacteria in water tanks and containers. It is ecologically friendly and keeps water free from germs, algae and odours.
Sodium Silver Chloride liquid or tablets
This is a Fast and effective water disinfection method for clear water. These tablets are an essential item for any traveller in order to avoid contaminated water (e.g. brushing teeth, drinking water). They will preserves water for up to 6 months and can be used in combination with a filter in cloudy water. Contact Time required is: 30 min for bacteria and viruses, 2 h for Giardia in clear water.
Lifestraw is an extremely effective portable water purifier created for prevention of common waterborne diarrhoeal diseases. It is a small tube 20cm long that can be easily carried and allow easy access to safe and clean drinking water. It will remove 99.9% of waterborne bacteria and parasites like Crypto and Giardia. It is ready to use immediately - you simply place the straw in the water source and suck through the tube. Your drinking water will be immediately filtered. Each Lifestraw is good for up to 1000 litres of fresh water.
Ultra-violet light works by destroying a germs ability to reproduce. Many people believe that UV light is the best way to purify water.
SteriPEN® is a brand of portable water purifier that uses ultra-violet (UV) light to destroy waterborne microbes. They destroy 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa. They are reusable and can purify up to 200 half-litre servings of water on one set of AA batteries.
To use a portable ultra-violet water purify you simply activate the unit, immerse it in the bottle or glass of water, and agitate the water with the light for the prescribed timeframe. In most cases you can disinfect half a litre of water in just under a minute, or a litre of water in approx. 90 seconds.
Ceramic Water Filters / Purifiers
When used in conjunction with high-performance glass fibre filters and active charcoal filters, ceramic filters are a great option for purifying your water supply and eliminating odours. These filters are perfect for anyone who requires up to 2 litres of drinking water per minute and are suitable for use with extremely cloudy water.
These are small and light water filters that generally deliver good performance. They are easy to clean and when used in conjunction with an active carbon filling they will improve the taste of your drinking water and eliminate odours. Micro-filters are effective at eliminating bacteria, protozoa, cysts, algae, spores, and sediment.
No matter where you are in the world, having access to clean water is imperative. Staying healthy when you travel is mostly dependent upon the water you drink. Taking the time to research where you are travelling, and the common bacteria and viruses local to the area, will help you make the right decision about the Water purification option that best suits the conditions and your needs.
For more information about water filtration and purification contact our customer service team on (07) 5593 4180.
Headlamps, Torches and Lanterns - Choosing the Right Light Source for You
When embarking on your next adventure race, night hike, overseas trip, or camping holiday with friends and family, lighting should be an essential part of your equipment list.
Whether you need a headlamp to light up the trail, find check-points, or work hands-free in the dark; Or a torch to search for some gear at night in your tent and help find your way to a midnight toilet stop; Or a lantern for a more luminous light source to light up your camp and cooking area, you should consider your lighting requirements for your after-dark activity and ensure you always pack the lighting that you need. It can be as simple as having a reliable light source for emergencies to give you peace of mind in case one day you may need it.
Choosing the correct light for your needs:
Before you leave on your big adventure is the best time to plan and choose the right lights to suit your needs. Most trekkers and bushwalkers will carry either a small personal torch or headlamp. But when a larger group decides to go car camping they normally prefer lighting from a source like a lantern to light up eating areas and the camp site.
Torches – torches that are battery powered are a very common light that is used in the bush as they can be high powered, compact, easy to use, and lightweight. Most will normally have a focused beam so you can direct the light exactly where it is needed. Things to consider when buying your torch are brightness, functions, and durability. Brightness is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens, the greater the brightness. A general purpose torch will generally be between 100 and 400 lumens. The output for high powered torches is between 400 and 1000 lumens, with ultra high performance torches rated in the 1000's of lumens. Functions are another option that you may like to consider when purchasing your torch. Does it have various brightness levels to conserve battery life, and if required, does it have a strobe light for emergencies or to use as a guide in darkness. And depending on the environment, how durable to you need your torch to be? Is it waterproof? Is it impact resistant? Choosing the right torch for your needs will give you hours of the right type of light when you need most.
Headlamps – The best thing about headlamps is that they free up both of your hands. Whether your gripping hiking poles, reading maps, climbing, fishing, riding, cooking, reading, searching for something in your backpack or tent, or simply getting around the camp site after dark. They usually have an elastic strap that goes around your head to keep them in place and come in a multiple of different options with some great functionality. From reactive lighting that automatically adapts the brightness to your needs, to infra-red modes that are ideal for situations where you are switching between darkness and low light requirements. Headlamps today are also extremely durable with many models being both waterproof and shock resistant. Choose the right headlamp and it will become your best friend every time you need to light up the dark.
Lanterns – are made to illuminate large areas and are great for more social campsites with more people so that everyone can see what they are doing whether it is cooking together or just socialising. There are different kinds of lanterns, some are gas powered, some are re-chargeable, and others are battery powered. Many re-chargeable and battery powered lanterns these days are dual purpose giving you the flexibility to use the lantern as either a broad light source, or an overhead light source in your car or tent. Some include built in torches that can be used independent of the lamp itself. When choosing the right lamp for your next trip, think about your needs, weigh up the options, and take a close look at all the different functions each lantern offers.
Choosing the right lighting source
When selecting the correct light for your trip you should ask yourself some questions to help narrow down the best lighting source for your needs.
- Do you need a light that can be worn when doing other tasks?
- Do you need a light to illuminate your campsite and surrounding area?
- Do you want a light with adjustable focus?
- Do you need overhead light?
In most scenarios you will find people like having a lantern for general chores around the campsite and also having a headlamp or torch for sorting out gear in the tent, walking at night or reading in the tent. Because of its versatility, a head torch is a far superior option, if not indispensable. Finally, the best tip to remember when you pack for your next adventure is to always carry a fresh pack of spare batteries, and a spare bulb, and even a back up torch.........just in case.
Selecting the right Tent.
Tents come in all shapes and sizes, all types of frames, are designed specifically for a range of different applications. The big question is, what type of tent do you need? When you know where and when you’ll be using your tent, and have determined all the things you need your tent to do, all the materials and design choices will follow on from this.
There are a few categories that lightweight tents and shelter fall under.
Simple, lightweight structures
TheseAre best used in mild weather conditions, as a shelter from sun and rain or some are used for insect protection. They are not made for protection from a combination of strong winds, rain and snow and some structures use the integration of your hiking poles for support and the construction of the tent. Tents in this range vary in their material quality, build quality and price.
These tents are used mainly in camping grounds or car camping... when you do not have to go too far off the beaten path to set up. They offer protection against wet weather, and insects. These tents do differ greatly in price depending on build quality and price, the pack weight for these tents are not generally a priority when it comes to design.
Super lightweight, single skin tents
These tents are for the specialist, used for fast and light activities like adventure racing or for emergencies. The materials used in construction of these tents are extremely lightweight and the fabric is water repellent only and not as reliable in prolonged wet weather conditions. You should keep in mind that a single skin tent can cause a lot of condensation in this environment, if not properly ventilated.
These tents are better for all round weather conditions, tents in this category are lightweight performance structures that should perform well in heavy rain and moderate winds. Models can vary depending on the places that you want to take it camping, some inners have a lot of mesh, so are very good in hotter climates and others have more fabric inners for colder environments.
4 Season Mountain tents
These are specially designed to withstand harsh elements that come with camping at altitude and can even resist the most severe backcountry weather. They achieve this with their specialist design and construction. And they use higher quality materials to also try and minimise the weight of these tents. It is always good to remember that better performance tents work well in less demanding weather conditions, yet the opposite isn’t true.
There are many different designs of tents, and each has its own advantages depending on how and where you want to use the tent and the performance you require. The frame set up of the tent puts it into one of the categories below and is the easiest way to tell the difference between the models and the benefits of each.
The Upright Pole Tent
This is more of a traditional system and is often popular because of its simplicity to set up, yet this tent shape relies heavily on how well it is pegged out to resist the elements. Certain designs can incorporate your hiking poles, to be used as the main supports for the tent, in order to minimise trail weight. (You just have to keep in mind if you need your hiking poles for walking during the day, you will have to pull down your tent to use them.)
Tunnel tents are great designs they have many advantages including, being lightweight compared to how much space they offer, having more flexibility to absorb high wind gusts and, when set up correctly, in the right orientation to the to the wind direction, provide less aerodynamic drag. They typically have 2-3 pole arches depending on how big the model is, sometimes varying in different heights. These tents are not free standing, as they need pegs at each end to hold them up. Most tunnel tents have outer sleeves built into the fly of the tent where the poles go through for maximum strength.
These are more often than not freestanding tents that are very stable in the wind. Their poles cross over each other causing tension to the floor pan without the need for pegs, which make them free standing. However it is good practice to peg down any tent design. A good advantage with having a free standing tent is that they are normally pitched with the inner first and then the outer fly over the top, which means in summer you can take advantage of good weather and just sleep in the mesh inner.
Now that you know the main differences between the tents that are available, you can make an informed decision about the tent that is right for you, based on where and when you are going to use it. Take a close look at all the different brands and models to select the tent that best suits your needs and price range.
If you need help deciding, or some more information, call our friendly Customer Service Team on Ph: (07) 5593 4180 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backpack / Rucksack Selection and Fitting Guide
Choosing the right Backpack or Rucksack:
There is a wide selection of very good backpacks to choose from, so it is important that you know what you are looking for and have an idea of the kind of trips that you will be doing for a few years. Because depending on how long you go for, and the climate of the place you are going to, will determine how big the bag is that you require and what features you will need with the bag.
For Australian conditions the backpack material will be required to withstand harsh elements, so durable, strong and water resistant qualities are extremely important. Some common fabrics used are synthetics (e.g. cordura) and some canvases.
Full synthetics are lighter, stronger and more abrasion resistant than canvas. Canvas bags are heavier, particularly when they get wet, but are very effective against water penetration due to the water induced swelling of the individual fabric fibres.
But it doesn’t really matter how waterproof the material is, because no backpack can be fully waterproof, unless it is purposely built for that application. For normal use we recommend waterproof pack liners for your travel.
Your backpack volume is measured in litres, some people that have large packs tend to want to pack their bag to it’s full extent and take more than is needed for their purpose. However if do you end up extending your trip it is better to go with a larger capacity pack, as this alleviates the need for you to strap your gear to the outside of the pack. The quality and brand of bag will determine how accurate they are when measuring the volume of their backpacks. A lot of packs have an extendable throat that can increase the volume of a bag by up to 10 extra litres.
Volumes and uses
- Up to 30L: good for day walking.
- 30L -50L: good for a 1-2 day trip or for smaller people.
- 50L- 65L: good for up to 3 days of camping.
- 65L- 85L: can be used for up to 6 days of overnight camping.
- 85L+: Long treks lasting over a week or more.
A lot of backpacks are “top loaders,” where all your gear is fed in from the top of the main compartment. So it does require some thought when packing the bag, as you want to keep the quick-access items close to the top. Some of the newer packs are now providing zips in the body of the bag so you can also get to the main compartment with all your gear in it without pulling it all out through the top.
Hip belt and padding
This is an important part of a pack; it helps with comfort while carrying heavy loads. A good backpack will disperse the main load down to your hip belt evenly. Some brands offer interchangeable belts for a more customised fit. There should also be some support and padding to your lower back.
Many packs offer lid pockets for essential and easily accessible items like a head torch / compass. Good packs also offer side pockets to carry drink bottles and they have even started making hip pockets on hip belts for easy access to things like cameras or snacks.
Depending on the activity in which you are partaking will determine what extras you need. They can range from Ice axe holders to walking pole storage or even just having enough attachment points to put anything to the outside of the pack if needed.
It is important to get this right; you must fit a backpack up to suit your body. A pack that is short will ride up around your waist while a pack that is too long will have badly fitting shoulder straps causing a gap between your back and the pack. When trying on the pack always do the hip belt up first so it fits firmly on your hips, and then adjust the shoulder straps to bring the bag to your body so it conforms nicely around your shoulders. It is always best to try these packs on in store with some weight in them and walk around for a while so you get a feeling about how the bag is going to perform.
If you are trying to fit a pack at home have a look at this video to help you with the fine adjustments:
Some brands offer female specific fits, as women are shaped differently to men and may need it to be more customisable ie shorter torso, wider hip belt and narrower shoulder span, this customisation is very good for choosing a bag that fits you best. However everyone is different so the best thing to do is to choose the pack in which you feel most comfortable.
Please note that the manufacturers use general terms to identify their packs like small, medium and large so you should look at each packs specifications to find the actual scale they use.
Choosing the right backpack and making sure it fits correctly can be a tricky business. If you would like some help with your selection, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly Customer Service Team on Ph: (07) 5593 4180 or you can email them at email@example.com
Selecting your Daypack:
Daypacks typically range between 15-35 litres depending on what you want to use the pack for, they are great for all kinds of activities like day walks, hikes, cycling or skiing. Being a smaller pack means the load is mainly carried on the shoulders however some brands incorporate simple waist straps for stability, and many have different degrees of back support and padding with air ventilation for hotter climates.
Textured nylons such as Cordura are used because they are very strong and abrasion resistant.
Polyester is a strong material but features more on entry-level models.
Canvas is a very heavy material but it is very water resistant and is often found in older bags.
Not many packs are considered waterproof as anything with a zip is a potential water entry point. So in wet conditions it is recommended to use a pack cover or pack liners inside the bag, or choose a dry pack.
Choosing your Daypack:
A daypack is only a small bag, so you would not want to have more than12kgs load in it. Because they normally do not have enough padding and hip belt support, if you are carrying a lot of weight it will be directly on the shoulders (that could be uncomfortable). It’s recommended to choose a daypack when you want to pack light for the day. Mostly they have hip belts and sternum straps that are included as a stabilizing method to stop the pack from moving around too much on the body.
Bushwalking: look for a narrow-profile pack so it is not too bulky on the trail. Depending on how long you are going on your walk for is how big a bag you should take, consider if you need to take extra clothing for different environments and wether you need a decent hip belt and sternum strap.
Rock climbing: Depending on your activity (trad climbing, mountaineering) will determine how technical your daypack needs to be. How much gear you need and weight of your gear e.g. ropes, carabineers, shoes, harness, will help with choosing specific features of the pack that you require like internal pockets, daisy chain, crampon straps.
Ski touring: The basic features of a back pack are essential when choosing for this activity. Things like a hip belt and sternum strap are important and it also pays to look at a more specific bag that has areas to carry your skies or board on the pack. The size will generally be determined on any extra clothing you need to take for the conditions.
Trail running/multi sport: some people choose a bum bag with water bottle holders because they like the fact that keeps your back clear so sweat can escape. But if size is an issue the other option is a technical slim line hydration pack that can offer a little extra space. With either choice it is a priority to get to know the fastening system of the pack so it sits properly while you are active.
Hydration packs: These packs range in sizes depending on the use and application that you are after, the smaller ones have bladders that range between 1.5 - 2 litres and are designed for the more active person for hydration as above. They also make models with a larger capacity orientated to the day hiker that wants to take more gear with them like a jacket, food and any other appropriate gear for the trip. Because they are bigger their bladders vary between 2-3 litres and generally come with a slightly bigger hip belt to deal with the weight.
Urban/school/work: these packs are ones that you would use as an everyday commuter. Generally mid size depending on what you want to carry, but these have specialty segmented compartments so you can organise your things better and some have extra padded areas for your multimedia items like laptops, ipads and smartphones.
Top loading vs. front or zip loading. Depending on your activity and use, will determine what style you will be looking for. The zip loading is typically used if you are after a wide opening for easy access to books and clothes that can be more difficult to locate in a top loader.
Top loaders do a better job of keeping gear dry in wet weather because anything that has zips is a potential water entry point even though they are covered with a small zip, They also tend to do a better job of keeping your gear from moving around to much as they typically come with compression straps to keep the load where you need it, and that is essential when participating in activities where you require balance.
Spend some time understanding your requirements and getting to know the different brands and models that are available. That way you’ll be sure to get the pack that is right for you.
If you need any help, or have any queries, please contact our friendly Customer Service team on Ph: 07 5593 4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re here to help.
With so many brands and styles, choosing the right daypack can get a little confusing. Taking a few minutes to identify exactly what you need the daypack for will help make the selection process much easier, then it just comes down to picking your favourite colour.......that's a whole other problem altogether!
Let's start with a few basics about Daypacks:
These typically range between 15-35 litres depending on what you want to use the pack for, and are great for all kinds of activities like day walks, hikes, cycling or skiing. Being a smaller pack means the load is mainly carried on the shoulders, however some brands incorporate simple waist straps for stability, and many have different degrees of back support and padding with air ventilation for hotter climates.
Across different brands and styles there are many different materials used:
Textured nylons such as Cordura are used because they are very strong and abrasion resistant.
Polyester is a strong material and features mostly on entry-level daypacks.
Canvas, although a heavy material, is very water resistant and is often found in older bags.
Not many packs are considered waterproof, as anywhere there is a zip, creates a potential water entry point.
So in wet conditions it is recommended to use a pack cover or a pack liner inside the pack, or choose
a dry pack for added protection.
Now, let's choose your Daypack:
A daypack is only a small bag, so you do not want to have more than about 12kgs load in it. Because they normally do not have enough padding, or the benefit of a hip belt support, if you are carrying a lot of weight in a daypack, that weight will be directly loaded on the shoulders (this could become uncomfortable over time). It’s recommended to choose a daypack when you want to pack light for the day. Many have hip belts and sternum straps that are included as a stabilizing method to stop the pack from moving around too much on the body.
Main Daypack uses are:
Bushwalking: look for a narrow-profile pack so it is not too bulky on the trail. The duration of your walk will directly impact the size of the bag you should take. If you need to take extra clothing for different environments and weather, consider a suitable sized pack with a decent hip belt and a sternum strap.
Rock climbing: Depending on your activity (trad climbing, mountaineering) will determine how technical your daypack needs to be. How much gear you need and weight of your gear e.g. ropes, carabineers, shoes, harness, will help with choosing specific features of the pack that you require like internal pockets, daisy chain, and crampon straps.
Ski touring: The basic features of a backpack are essential when selecting a pack for this activity. Things like a hip belt and sternum strap are important and it also pays to look at a more specific bag that has areas to carry your skies or board on the pack. The size will generally be determined by the amount of extra clothing you need to take for the conditions.
Trail running/multi sport: some people choose a bum bag with water bottle holders because they like the fact that it keeps your back cooler than having a pack strapped to it. But if size is an issue the other option is a technical slim line hydration pack that can offer a little extra space. With either choice it is a priority to get to know the fastening system of the pack so it sits properly while you are active.
Hydration packs: These packs range in size depending on the use and application that you require. The smaller ones have bladders that range between 1.5 - 2 litresand are designed for the more active person for hydration as above. They also make models with a larger capacity oriented to the day hiker that wants to take more gear with them like a jacket, food and any other appropriate gear for the trip. Because they are bigger their bladders vary between 2-3 litres and generally come with a slightly bigger hip belt to deal with the weight.
Urban/school/work: these packs are ones that you would use as an everyday commuter. Generally mid size depending on what you want to carry, but these have specialty segmented compartments so you can organise your things better and some have extra padded areas for your multimedia items like laptops, ipads and smartphones.
Top loading vs. front or zip loading. Your activity and how you intend to use your pack will determine what style you will be looking for. Zip loading is typically used if you are after a wide opening for easy access to books and clothes that can be more difficult to locate in a top loader.
Top loaders do a better job of keeping gear dry in wet weather because anything that has zips is a potential water entry point. They also tend to do a better job of keeping your gear from moving around too much as they typically come with compression straps to keep the load where you need it, and that is essential when participating in activities where you require balance.
Spend some time understanding your requirements and getting to know the different brands and models that are available. That way you’ll be sure to get the pack that is right for you.
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