Gear-Zone Guide to Rucksacks
Posted by Neil | June 29, 2011
These days, backpacking is so much more than slinging a rucksack over your shoulder and heading off into the wild blue yonder.
Ever-developing technology means modern rucksacks are built to the highest standards, with specially-crafted back systems designed to more easily distribute the load you carry, making any expedition a much more enjoyable experience.
Rucksacks, backpacks, daysacks – call them what you will, there’s a major choice to be had…and here at Gear-Zone we stock a huge selection of the very best.
Every major brand has, over time, developed its own carrying system, through tried and test research with the help of end users in the field. From the Berghaus Bioflex and Lowe Alpine’s exclusive Torso Fit Expedition – the renowned TFX – to Gregory’s load transfer system via an adjustable waistbelt, rucksack design has come on a long way in just a short space of time.
The key word is adjustability, which allows you to carry heavier loads for longer in greater comfort. Combined with ever-lighter fabrics used in their construction, today’s rucksacks are a far cry from those used by intrepid backpackers in the past.
Ventilation plays no small part in carrying comfort, with air flow systems designed to utilise the space between you and your pack and turn it into a built-in cooling system.
Specialist hydration packs – which provide instant access to fluids – have been another major innovation, giving a boost to athletes on the move, especially mountain runners and fast-paced cyclists.
Getting the right fit with any rucksack is paramount. From small daysacks for short day trips to huge expedition packs to carry all your gear on a major walking or climbing excursion, the better the fit the more comfortable – and less exhausting – your journey.
Many of the larger backpacking rucksacks have a removable daysack, making them the most versatile choice on a long trip.
Most rucksacks are designed for multi-use activities, and are equipped with many features to aid their comfort and carrying capabilities.
Adjustable back systems and padded hit belts to distribute increased weight carried on the hips are a must.
Expansion facilities are commonplace, where extra, loose fabric built into the top of the pack allows its carrying capacity to be expanded and overfilled by up to another 15 or 20 litres.
Compression straps allow for adjustment to a partially-filled rucksack, compressing the bulk and making it more comfortable to carry.
Every major brand of backpack is different, and your intended use will define what style is best to meet your needs.
Climbing packs, for example, are built for rigidity on climbing routes, and come with heavy duty gear loops, ice axe attachments and a reinforced crampon pouch to take your climbing accessories.
Loops found at the base of many rucksacks are for walking pole attachments, and outside panels or bellows side pockets are invaluable for easy access to gear needed in a hurry.
Wand pockets are usually deep mesh or fabric pockets at the base of a pack for longer items such as skis to be stored.
Larger rucksacks will have a separate zipped opening towards the base, a useful addition to a normal top loading system to give ready access to anything stored at the bottom.
To see our huge range of backpacks here at Gear-Zone, visit Gregory, Lowe Alpine, The North Face, Vaude and Deuter. Our specialist hydration packs can be found at Camelbak, while at Caribee you’ll find a comprehensive selection of smaller daypacks.
For advice on fitting a rucksack, see our Gear-Zone blog.