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Internal Frame Backpack, Backpack Fit
- Best Hiking Backpack, Cheap Hiking Backpacks
- Daypacks and Backpacks Size, Straps
- Internal Frame Backpack, Backpack Fit
- Hiking Backpack Reviews
- Discount Hiking Backpacks Features Comparison Table
Hiking Backpacks Features (continued)
Hiking Packs Frame and Fit.Back in the day, hiking backpacks designed for heavy loads used equally heavy external frames.
The fit of a hiking backpack can make or break your comfort level on the trail. Daypacks tend to come in a one-size-fits-most category, as do many discount overnight backpacks. There is variation among models and brands, however, so the best way to find a good fit is to shop at a retail outlet that sells many brands; alternatively, measure the distance between your shoulders and from shoulders to hips and compare that against the dimensions of the backpack you're eyeing (some manufacturers' specs stipulate torso length). Remember, you want the bulk of the load (especially a heavy one) to rest on your hips, and that means you need a discount backpack that fits your torso. The REI Flash 18, for example, measures 18x9.5x8 inches, and the Osprey Stratos 24, the other best daypack on our list, measures 21x13 x10.25 inches. The two multi-day internal frame backpacks we like are significantly larger: the High Sierra Explorer 55 measures 30x14x8 inches and the Teton Sports Scout 3400 comes in at 24.4x14.4x4.5 inches.
If a backpack is available in only one size, having adjustable shoulder straps is a welcome design element. The Teton Sports Scout 3400 features contoured adjustable shoulder straps that move up or down to suit your torso length; ditto for the High Sierra Explorer 55. We found two discount backpacks, the Kelty Women's Redwing 40 (starting at $78, Amazon) and Marmot Women's Diva 35 ($38 in closeout) that are sized and designed, as their names suggest, specifically for women -- the frames are smaller and the straps are contoured to fit a women's body.
A related innovation is a suspension system that lifts the pack off your shoulders. The benefits of this arrangement include less direct weight and minimal rubbing and irritation. The High Sierra Explorer 55, Osprey Stratos 24, and Kelty Redwing 40 feature a suspension system.
Hiking Backpacks Fabric.The fabric that forms the shell of a discount backpack should be strong enough to carry your load and durable enough to withstand thorns and rocks, but light enough that it doesn't add much to the overall weight. If you hike in places where the weather is rainy or likely to change rapidly, you should pay more attention to the type of material than if the environs are consistently warm and dry. Still, your best bet is to choose a discount backpack made with weather-resistant fabric.
The material used in the best discount backpacks meet these standards. The High Sierra Explorer 55 is made of heavy-duty materials (Duralite and Duraweave) that are often used for luggage. Ripstop nylon, a lightweight fabric designed to withstand the elements, is the material of choice for the REI Flash 18, Osprey Stratos 24, and Teton Sports Scout 3400; the Kelty Redwing 40 is made of ripstop polyester reinforced with oxford polyester, but we read reviews griping that the fabric failed the water-resistance test. The Outbound Manchester is made of polyester and nylon.
Hiking Backpacks Amenities.Good quality discount backpacks boast organizational aids that ensure easy access to necessary gear, like maps, compass, sunglasses, camera, and energy bars. On the outside of the pack you might find loops, pockets, and daisy chains (a small line of loops), as well as straps that cinch down to hold things in place. The REI Flash 18, for example, features a tool loop and two daisy chains. The Kelty Redwing likewise sports a daisy chain and an ice-axe loop along with several zippered pockets and four compression straps. The Osprey Stratos 24 provides two ice-axe loops, an attachment point for a trekking pole, and zippered mesh pockets on a shoulder strap and the waist belt. The Outbound Manchester sports a headphone port and fleece-lined pocket for an MP3 player. Storage compartments on the inside are equally valuable. Aside from several organizational pockets, many newer discount backpacks, including all those we researched, come with an interior pouch and external port for a water hydration system. Although high-end backpacks for overnight trips often have a top compartment that cinches down over the pack's main body to protect and compress the load, among the discount backpacks we researched only the Marmot Women's Diva and Teton Sports Scout 3400 boast top compartments. The Teton Sports Scout and High Sierra Explorer 55 feature a sleeping bag compartment, although one hiker says the space in the High Sierra pack is too small for a 0-degree bag. The small REI Flash 18 does double duty as a stuff sack when turned inside out.
Being prepared for all kinds of contingencies is the hallmark of an experienced camper. Rain is one of the most common. Three of the discount backpacks on our list -- the High Sierra Explorer, Osprey Stratos 24, and Teton Sports Scout 3400 -- come with a rainfly. We read numerous reviews by users indicating how grateful they were to have this amenity.
Don't Bother Cheap Hiking Backpacks
Outbound Manchester Backpack Review
Osprey Packs Stratos 24 Review
Teton Sports Scout 3400 Review
REI Flash 18 Pack Review
High Sierra Explorer 55 Review
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