Rucksacks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
You need to decide what you want to do. Small day sacks will be suitable for
the lighter summer excursion but walking at other times will require more
space for the warm clothing. You also need to make provision for food and
drink. Backpacking is a whole new ball-game when you are likely to need up
to 75 litres capacity.
If you only want to buy one size
for most normal walking, a useful size is about 30
or 35 litres with capacity to expand to 35 or 40, usually described as
30+5/35+5 or similar. As as as design is concerned, it is useful to have an
external compartment into which waterproofs can go. They are then
immediately available in a hurry without rummaging. Similarly, a compartment
for drink is useful, especially in summer. One for your sandwiches also if
If you intend to use walking
poles you need loops/straps to hold them when not in use. My
preference is for adjustable elastic cord loops rather than Velcro which can
easily come undone if caught on a passing branch. You might lose your poles
A small compartment for compass
(please, always carry one - see Finding
Your Way) and sundries is also useful.
Most rucksacks are not overly
waterproof whatever they say, so look for one with its own little "cagoule"
built in or buy a waterproof slip on cover. Also use a rucksack liner - a
strong plastic bag which helps keep contents dry. They are cheap!
It should have a well padded
waist-strap and a chest strap.
Finally, buy one with a mesh
back. These hugely increase the "breathability" at your back and
will make you much more comfortable by reducing "sweaty back"
syndrome. This will rule out the smaller daysacks
as they tend not have these.
Many people make the mistake of
wearing rucksacks too high on the back. This is tiring for your back and
makes you more off balance. The waist strap should fit at hip level and be
kept reasonably tight so that the majority of the weight is centered there.
The shoulder straps are to prevent the rucksack toppling backwards and to
keep it close to your body, not to take the majority of the weight.
A rucksack with a chest strap is
useful because it stops the shoulder straps from working outwards and avoids
constant hitching up of the rucksack to correct them which can be annoying.
Visit the Happy Hiker (in
Association with Amazon) on line Hiking
Store to buy rucksacks.
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site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any
damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.