3 Key Features in a Good Hiking Backpack

A few considerations you should take into account before buying your next knapsack

Hiking is a great way to exercise, see wildlife or scenery, and enjoy time with friends of family. Whether you’re departing from a trailhead or simply navigating a short loop on a trail outside town, it’s smart to carry a few supplies like food, water, a first-aid kit, and possibly extra clothes, just in case, and you’ll need a good pack to haul it all. But the best packs aren’t always the largest. In fact, you should try to get away with the smallest, lightest model you can. Here are a few other features you’ll want to consider.

Many Colors

This 20-liter bag is focused on both comfort and ventilation. Osprey Packs

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If you’re carrying a canteen, food, extra clothes, or additional gear, a pack with a large main compartment will serve you well. It makes it easier to not only stash and protect big cargo, it’s a quick-and-convenient way to access items, like camera gear, you might need in a hurry.

Double Up

Thanks to dual water bottle pockets on the outside, you’ll have quick access to hydration—or to anything else that’ll fit in the extended mesh material. North Face

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Look close at a pack’s materials and construction. Make sure it’s durable enough to suit your needs, and assembled in a way that won’t fail you when you’re far from home. A good backpack will be light, but not at the sacrifice of security. It’s important to not only know you’re getting a product that will last, but will also protect whatever contents you slip inside.

Multi-Day Companion

This massive 55-liter capacity includes a special spot for a sleeping roll. TETON Sports

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A good backpack should feel comfortable. If it isn’t, you could be setting yourself up for one miserable trek. If it has a waist belt, make sure it’s padded and comfortable, and if there are load-lifting straps, make sure they work—when activated, there should actually be space under the strap itself and the weight should shift off your shoulders and onto your hips.