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Backpacks are not just for hikers or mountain climbers anymore because nearly everyone uses them. Students carry their books in them, professionals carry files and laptops in them for work, and moms sometimes use backpacks as diaper bags to keep their hands free to carry their babies. However, if you like hiking or climbing, there are several models of Osprey packs from which to choose.
Although they were once only used by mountain climbers or hikers, there now seems to be a backpack for almost every purpose you can name. Backpacks are available in three basic types:
- Internal Frame Packs
- External Frame Packs
Most of the backpacks used by people for non-sporting purposes fall under the daypack category. They are a lightweight pack that can be used for almost anything, like carrying books, traveling, or taking toys and supplies for the family to the park or beach.
They are soft-sided and usually do not have a frame, although there are some exceptions. The mistake that many people make is overpacking their daypacks, so they are carrying too much weight. Daypacks are designed to carry light loads of about 10 to 15 pound.
When shopping for a daypack, the volume may be expressed in liters or cubic inches. A daypack usually carries about 15 to 30 liters or 915 to 1831 cubic inches of cargo.
There are multiple types of daypacks including those for:
Daypacks are designed with features to fit its purpose. For instance, a work daypack can hold a water bottle, and it may have an area for a laptop and pockets on the inside of it to organize other supplies. Cycling packs usually feature tool pockets, water reservoir areas, and helmet holders.
A well-made daypack will have a belt that fits at the hips, so the weight is carried by your legs instead of your back. Among the many daypack models are the Osprey Daylite packs.
Internal Frame Packs
Backpacks that have frames, whether on the inside or outside of them, are made to carry heavier loads than daypacks. The frame helps to distribute the weight of the pack to the carrier’s hips, so the pack should have a good hipbelt.
These packs are designed to be carried against the back to keep them from moving around when they are properly adjusted. This position prevents packs from being snagged on tree branches or rocks when hiking trails, rock climbing or skiing.
While they have a compact design, internal frame packs can carry everything you need for an extended weekend trip because they have a large capacity. They can carry heavier loads than daypacks, which is more than 15 pounds of gear and supplies. Due to their position against the back, users may lean slightly forward when carrying this type of pack.
The frames are made from several materials, although most of them are built with aluminum stays. Other packs include aluminum or plastic sheets with aluminum or alloy stays to support the weight of the cargo you’re carrying.
How to Load Internal Frame Backpacks
If you purchase a backpack with an internal frame, start by loading bulky or heavy items first. A good strategy is to put the sleeping bag in the bottom of the pack to give it stability. Next, load it heavier items like a food bag, tent, or an extra pair of hiking boots. The tent poles can be strapped to the side of the pack.
If you’re taking a coat or raingear with you, push them down along the sides of the pack, taking up any space that has been left by the bulky items you already added. Then, load the stuff bag that contains the rest of the clothes you’re taking with you.
Lastly, place items in the outer pockets and lid that you’ll need during the day, such as snacks, water purification treatments, sunglasses, sunscreen, maps, and a headlamp or flashlight.
External Frame Packs
The third main option for backpacks is eternal frame packs. Gone are the days of large aluminum outer frames with the pack and other gear attached to it.
Instead, external frames are now much thinner, smaller, and they are mostly concealed by the material that sits beneath the frame and the carrier’s back. The external frame on most Osprey packs fit into loops and sleeves of material, with mesh that sits against the back that helps air circulate.
These packs can carry bulky, heavy loads, from 15 pounds or more, making them ideal for those who hike trails. When the pack is loaded, the frame prevents it from being carried against the back, so you can walk upright instead of leaning forward. If you need more stability while carrying one, use hiking poles or a walking stick.
External frame packs have several outer pockets, so there should be plenty of space to carry essential supplies and some nonessential ones as well.
How to Load External Frame Backpacks
Loading Osprey backpacks with external frames are slightly different as more items should go on the outside of the pack than inside of it. When loading your supplies, attach the sleeping bag to the frame underneath the pack.
Next, put heavier, bulkier items, inside the pack by setting them further up the frame near your spine. These items may include your food bag, tent, extra boots, and clothing. Put everything else you need in the external pockets for quick access.
To prevent injuries like stiff backs, shoulders, or hips, a backpack should fit correctly against your body after adjusting the shoulder straps and hipbelt. However, premier backpack brands, like Osprey, offer packs in different sizes, so you will need to determine which size to get.
Measure the Torso
To ensure a backpack properly fits you, measure your torso. This task will require someone to help you and a cloth measuring tape.
To begin, bend your head slightly forward and have your helper locate the C7 vertebra, which will protrude slightly when bending your head. Next, put your hands on your hips and use your thumbs to locate the iliac crest. It usually feels like a shelf made from bone.
Once it is located, have the helper draw an imaginary like to the center of your spine and place the end of the measuring tape on that spot. They should then measure up to C7 to get the length of your torso. Torso lengths for most adults range from 16” to 22.”
Since some Osprey bags have interchangeable harnesses, measure around the hips at the iliac crest to find the size for the hipbelt. When you are shopping for a backpack, you will see the torso size in inches and the hipbelt size as XS, S, SM, M, ML, L and O/S. Look for a size chart from the backpack’s manufacturer online or on the tag.
Customize the Fit
Before using a new pack, it should be pre-fit to your body to ensure that it is comfortable before going hiking, climbing, or commuting to work. Load the pack with the things you would be taking with you, so it would weigh the same as when you’re carrying it.
Put it on and adjust the harness, which includes the:
- Shoulder Straps
- Sternum Strap
- Load Lifters
After loading your new backpack, put it on to adjust the harness starting with the hipbelt. The hipbelt, which is padded on most good quality packs, should rest at the hip bones. Snap the buckle together and adjust the belt until you feel the weight of the backpack resting on your hips, not on your back.
Adjusting Shoulder Straps
Next, adjust the shoulder straps by pulling them down and back to make them tighter. When they are tightened, the pack should rest against your back. This adjustment moves the load forward, so it rests on your hips, not the shoulders.
Adjusting Sternum Strap
Adjust the sternum strap until it fits comfortably across your chest. For some women with fuller breasts, the strap may need to rest higher on the chest than it would for a man. Close the buckle and tighten it to pull the shoulder straps inward until your arms can move freely and it fits comfortably.
Adjusting Load Lifter Straps
Larger backpacks will have load lifter straps that sit near your collarbone or the top part of your shoulders. They angle back toward the pack at a 45-degree angle. Pull the straps to help take the load off your shoulders.
After making these adjustments, the weight of Osprey packs should be settled on your hips and not your back or shoulders. The hips can comfortably carry more weight without getting sore. These adjustments can help prevent back injuries.
The considerations for buying a good quality backpack will be:
- How it will be used.
- Which pack will serve your purpose.
- The fit of the backpack.
If you use this information, then you should be able to find the best backpack for hiking, climbing, skiing, or going to school.