Tips and Hints
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When planning for those longer hiking trips, it is wise to invest in a goodbackpack designed to carry all of your supplies that you will need for your days on the trails. Your backpack is going to be your home. Determine the kind of hiking you will be doing prior to making your purchase.
Types of Backpacks
There are many different styles and makes of backpacks but in general there are 2 types of backpacks to select from. There is an internal frame and an external frame.
External frames are made of tubular aluminum alloy containing two curved vertical bars, which a number of crossbars are welded. This pack allows the weight to ride higher and directly over your hips and can distribute the weight more evenly. It also provides better ventilation between your body and the pack allowing moisture to evaporate. They also tend to generally weigh lighter than internal frames.
Internal frame packs are designed to sit closer to your back which can reduce your pack being caught up in branches, brush and other foliage that can be out on the trails. The weight of an internal frame rides closer to your center of gravity, which is great for when climbing up hills to help keep your balance. They can fit easily in most places like the truck of your car or in a duffel bag for storage. However, since this pack sits snug against your back, it can be hot and sweaty with no air getting through.
Before making a decision, you should try on each style and different sizes to see what fits your body the best. Remember you want to be as comfortable as possible on your hike. Adjust the straps and make sure they are wide enough that they won't dig into your shoulders. The frame should sit right above your hips and have a good hip belt. If you're unsure when trying out packs, ask someone with experience that can help make sure the pack fits you properly.
Making sure your pack has a good hip belt is important. Our backs and shoulders aren't designed for carrying heavy loads. You tend to lean forward to counterbalance the backwards pull of the weight in your pack, which is how back problems can occur. The hip belt will transfer the weight from your shoulders to your hips, allowing you to stand up right and able to carry a properly balanced pack with more comfort for hours.
Adjusting Your Pack
You want to get the most comfort out of your pack so making sure it fits properly is very important. Get to know your pack, know what all the straps, buckles and adjustments are for.
Before putting your pack on, loosen all the straps. Once the pack is on, the hip belt should be just above your hip bones. Tighten the hip belt first. Next tighten the shoulder straps so they are snug but not restraining. Then pull the load adjuster straps tight. This will transfer the weight to your hips. To finish, clasp and tighten the sternum strap. This can be adjusted at any time to quickly relieve pressure from your shoulders.