Backpacks vary in shape, size, colour, contents and so on. It’s a personal choice what works best. For starting out, just use an old pack, no bigger than 30 L capacity. On the track, chat to other bushwalkers about what they like in a backpack and consider trialling a few different packs before buying.
A few features to watch out for:
- Durability: select materials (straps, buckles) that are sturdy and check that the seams are well stitched. Also, check how easy it will be to make repairs (some companies offer repairs under the initial warranty).
- Ventilation: modern backpacks sit slightly off the back (either with an external frame or with mesh fabric) generating airflow, allowing sweat to evaporate more easily, and keeping the user cool.
- A separate hydration compartment to keep the water bladder in position and limits damaged.
Separate gear into things that can and can’t get wet and water-proof accordingly.
Examples of gear that needs waterproofing:
- Food (e.g. biscuits, bread)
Examples of gear that can get wet:
- Plastic-wrapped lollies
Double wrapping gear in garbage bags is a reasonably effective way of keeping gear dry. Alternatively, dry bags work well but are more expensive and easily damaged (if too thin). Some packs have inbuilt pack-covers that provide an additional waterproof lining, although generally not good enough to keep out the heavier rain.
Less is more when it comes to bushwalking: a lighter pack makes it easier to walk through and enjoy the bush.
Pack heavy gear (e.g. water bottles) close to the spine as this is most effective way of distributing the weight.
Keep a small water bottle near the top of the bag or in a side pocket for easy access.
Keep snacks also handy, either in the lid pocket or side pocket.
Download our Day Walk Gear Checklist.