Choosing the Right Daypack
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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