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Backpack basics

Pick a backpack that makes your trip easy & keep it light for an smooth travel.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2010 03:27 IST

If you are planning a backpacking trip and are all excited about shopping for your travel gear, we suggest you to give equal importance to your backpack, too. Often, a less than functional backpack can spoil the fun. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you go about choosing yours.

Keep it light
Choose a backpack that is light yet sturdy. Look for the detail card for specifications, or ask the salesperson. As for the right size, go by the length of your torso - your pack should be not too long, and not too short. When you lean your head back, it should rest on top of the pack, not bang against it.

Smart loading
Traditional backpacks are designed in a way that you need to load everything from the base, which can be quite cumbersome when you want to pull out something from the bottom. Look for backpacks that have horizontal loading options, and open like a suitcase.

Find the right flaps
Since you will spend most of the trip with the backpack on your shoulders, look for flaps that are wide, padded, contoured and soft. In addition to wide and soft straps, a good backpack for women should have a chest strap to keep the shoulder straps together (located a bit higher than it would be for a man) and a hip strap to make sure your hips work harder than your shoulders when it comes to carrying the weight.

What’s with the wheels?
While a wheeled backpack looks like an interesting innovation, the fact remains that the wheels add to the bulk. Also, a backpacking trip is unlikely to be in a swanky mall where the surface is smooth and marbled. So dragging a backpck on a rugged surface may not be a great idea.

Pocket wise
It’s easier if your backpack has many pockets - you will be able to compartmentalise the stuff. A pocket to store water and snacks, and one to carry a first aid kit, comes very handy in case of an emergency.

Slip-on comfort
The best backpacks are the ones that glide effortlessly once you pull them over your shoulders. A muscle pull is common if you are carrying heavy weight, so go for ones that do not push the weight on one side.

Strap covers
Many backpacks have a zippered cover into which you can tuck all the loose straps. You can then carry the pack around like a suitcase, or if it’s really light, like a shoulder bag. This is a great feature because it keeps straps from getting caught in loading ramps.