If you are headed out on a backpacking trip, camping trip, or hunting trip, or embarking on any other venture that requires you to carry a pack for any amount of time, comfort is extremely important. Having a pack that fits well, distributes weight correctly, and does not chafe is absolutely vital, as any outdoor enthusiast can tell you.
I recently went on a little overnight hike. I went on this hike very unprepared. Just a short hike and one night camping, no big deal right? Instead of getting the right pack for the job, I just went with the pack that I had on hand.
I can tell you from firsthand experience, a pack that is not designed for comfort can quickly turn a fun little overnight hike into a rather miserable trudge.
Today, I want to share with you 4 comfort features that I wish I’d had before venturing out on that fateful trek!
The Right Straps for the Job
This article is not going to get into the nitty gritty specifics; rather this is a general guide for getting a pack that will be comfortable for you.
With that in mind, it is important to note that the kind of straps you need will depend on the intended use of your pack. If you just need a pack to carry a hydration unit and a sandwich for a little day hike, then your strap situation will be different than if you are planning to backpack the length of the Pacific Crest Trail.
However, regardless of your intended use, straps are extremely important to your comfort. You should check to make sure that they are adjustable and durable. Inspect the attachment points to make sure the stitching will hold up.
If you are planning on going more than a short distance, one of the most important straps is the waist strap. The load of your pack needs to be distributed properly in order for you to have a comfortable hike. This means that about 80% of the weight should be on your hips/legs and 20% on the front of your shoulders. The top of your shoulders should not feel like they are under pressure. The best way to accomplish this kind of distribution is through a waist strap.
When rucking, chances are you will be carrying a wide variety of articles. Not all of these items will be soft and squishy. Therefore, you probably will not want them rubbing against your back for the duration of your hike.
That is where padding comes in. Check any pack you plan on buying to make sure that it has a good amount of padding in the contact points (wherever the pack will be touching your body).
Since these contact points will be right against your clothing which will be right against your skin, and since you will be exerting yourself, your body will be trying to let off heat and moisture. Make sure the padding on your pack is breathable. A ventilated back will keep you drier, cooler, and all around more comfortable.
A Proper Frame
This tip goes right along with tip #1. The straps and frame work in tandem to make sure that your pack sits properly and distributes weight correctly.
A backpack frame should mold well to your body shape and contour. It should also be padded well enough that you do not know its there (see above)!
There is a lot of back and forth on the efficacy of load lifters. However, if you are looking at a larger pack, they are definitely a comfort feature worth looking into.
Referred to by same as stabilizer straps or load adjuster straps, they are designed to stop your pack from moving around while at the same time balancing your load. The idea is to get the load off your shoulders and help your pack to be more stable.
Load lifters can really only come into play once every other aspect of your pack is fitted and adjusted properly.
Now, next time you are in the backpack market, you will know exactly what to look for to make sure you have a comfortable, enjoyable hike!
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
An avid archer, political junkie, and aspiring musician, Brady makes his home on the edge of society, just close enough to get good WiFi, but far enough to not be bothered.