If unsure, a good starting place for choosing pack size is this rule of thumb:
Running, cycling & commuting
Day hiking, crag climbing, snowsports
Winter walking, alpine mountaineering, overnight camps, ski touring
Backpacking & traveling
Expedition use, hold bags
Unsurprisingly, there is a rucksack type for every activity, environment and occasion. A rudimentary breakdown of them looks like:
Typically designed to be very form-fitting, allowing for very secure and efficient weight transfer to reduce pack movement during energetic movements such as running. They are typically very light and breathable, have soft or minimal back support, and usually accommodate a hydration system of some kind. For example, the Salomon Agile 12 Set.
Ideal for day long adventures such as; hillwalking, citybreaks, and crag climbing. They will typically be big enough for a waterproof, something to keep you warm, and something to keep you sustained for the day. They come in a myriad of different styles and with multiple back systems which can affect the fit and comfort of the bag. For example, the Osprey Stratos 26 has a very technical back system and very sophisticated features, whilst the Fjallraven Abisko Hike 35 is rugged and simple. Both will give very differently in terms of comfort.
Snow Sport bags fulfil similar roles to both day hiking and activity bags, as they provide enough room for some kit but also hydration and other features. They will often have extra protection and avalanche-specific features, so best do your research! Here at LD Mountain Centre, we stock Ski and Snowboard specific bags.
Typically slightly bigger than day bags to account for more kit and bulkier clothing, they also have features such as mitt friendly buckles, ice axe attachments and harness-friendly straps. They are often made from ultra-lightweight and durable materials to cope with demanding conditions. Bags such as the Lowe Alpine Mountain Ascent 40:50 Reg and the Deuter Women’s Guide 40+ SL are excellent examples.
For a few days camping you need enough stuff for food, sleeping bag, tent, and some spare clothes. Not much else. You would typically expect a bag with around 40L of space to accommodate all this, though personal preference comes into play a lot. Modern equipment really focusses on small pack size and minimal weight, so there are ways of reducing this whilst not sacrificing comfort (if you are willing to pay for it!). Our range of 30+L Hiking Packs fit this bill perfectly, with a particular staff favourite being the Osprey Women’s Kyte 36.
Ski Touring bags share many features with alpine packs, though they are generally heavier and with less technical features. They will, however, have enough space to fit bulky kit and clothing, and have a means of attaching skis to help ascending slopes off the beaten track. The Dakine Blade 38L is a prime example.
Think Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes, Gap Years, and longer treks. These bags are the prototypical backpack, and will sport features like large volume main holds, sleeping bag holds, and straps for attaching tents. Besides these commonalities, features can vary greatly from bag to bag, so be sure to think about what you want from your bag. For example, the Fjallraven Kajka 65 is a very different bag than the Osprey Ariel AG 65 due to elements such as materials, fit, and intended use.
There are bags which bridge the gap between Back Packing/Hiking bags and Duffels; bags which lack the technical features of a tracking bag, but retain the more ergonomic features such as a practical back system. The result is a large-volume bag which can be carried comfortably mid-short distances, but still quite happily be chucked from bus to plane, plane to tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk to jungle etc! Osprey do very good versions of this type of bag. For example: Farpoint 70, Ozone 80, Women's Wayfarer 70
The best bag within an appropriate activity type is the one which fits you best. There will no doubt be a lot of bags around which boast the same volume and similar features, but will fit differently due to how they were made and who they were intended for. Take these 2 bags of similar volume for example:
The Fjallraven Kajka 65 is a big, long, heavy bag. It favours comfort and robustness over being lightweight. It is ideal for moving slowly long distances, and due to its length suits the taller person.
The Lowe Alpine Axiom Manaslu 55:65 is shorter, and lighter. It would suit people who want to move faster, but still carry a lot. It uses more sophisticated technology (we really like the back system on this bag) to save weight, but may not last as long as the Kajka.
In comparison, the smaller Montane Ultra Tour 40 sacrifices almost everything in the pursuit of being light weight, relying on this for its comfort and useability. Whilst this and its stug fit a very good bag for moving VERY fast over Very long distances, it exemplifies the importance of
There is such a wide range of bags to suit anyone doing any activity. Whilst this means there is almost certainly THE perfect bag for you, it can be tricky hunting it down. Have a look at our complete range here and if you have any questions please give us a call.