How on earth do you choose?
Finding the Right Pack For You
Which backpack is right for you? It depends on what you’re doing, where you’re going, the time of year, and the length of your trip. Are you committed to dropping a lot of cash on ultralight gear so you can shave weight and cover an insane amount of mileage? Or would you rather have a pack that is built to carry more weight, just in case your buddy sprains his ankle on Day 3? Will you be on well-worn moderate trails? Or do you need a pack that will move with your body through brush, under branches, and across rocky scrambles? Knowing these things will help you determine how much gear you need to carry and how you want to carry it. Having a pack that is properly fit to you and the knowledge to adjust the suspension system correctly will make the difference between a fun adventure and a grueling death march.
Do You Need a Big Pack?
Here at Wind River Outdoor Company we are committed to helping you choose the right capacity, functionality and style that will fit you best, from small daypacks to full-size models designed for months in the field. Pack volume refers to how much space there is inside the pack, measured in liters (or in some cases, cubic inches- either works!). Many large backpacks include the volume in the product name. Keep in mind that smaller ultra-light packs might be all the rage, but may not always be the best choice. If the pack is too small in volume you’ll have to strap more gear on the outside. Overloading the pack can sacrifice carry comfort since ultra-light packs just aren’t built with the suspension system to carry the kitchen sink. Not to mention that adding things to the outside of your pack can throw you off balance, and you might arrive at camp only to find that your favorite hat didn’t make it because it got snagged on a tree branch three miles back, or worse yet, your water bottle fell out during a stream crossing.
* Volume is measured in both liters and square inches. Either works. Many backpack manufacturers provide the customer with both.
Fit is everything!
If a pack doesn’t fit correctly, nothing else really matters. It’s like a pair of boots—they can be the best ever, but they’re not much use to you if they don’t fit. Likewise, a pack needs to properly conform to your body and to allow you to carry the weight mostly on your hips, not your shoulders. Having a pack that fits you well can make you the most popular person on the trip who has energy to help others, or “that guy” who is exhausted and miserable the whole trip. At the Wind River Outdoor Company we have one of only four Deuter pack fitting centers in the country. We can load up multiple packs (any brand) with the estimated amount of weight that you’ll be carrying in the field so that you can compare now they feel. We recommend coming in when you have a good chunk of time to hang out with one of our knowledgeable staff members, since it’s very difficult to accurately determine if a pack fits well without putting weight in it. Even if you know which pack or brand you are looking for, it’s great to try a few different ones to understand how they carry differently, and find which one fits YOU the best.
Once we determine the proper volume (depending on intended use) and your torso size, the next question is, will you be comfortable carrying a loaded pack? Our staff will show you how to adjust the many additional straps (load stabilizers, compression straps, sternum straps, etc.) so that the weight is balanced between your hip belt and shoulder straps. This will be the difference between a comfortable fit and a very painful carry.
If you’ve been in a lot of outdoor shops you’ll notice the “shrink it and pink it” technique for appealing to female buyers. When it comes to packs, it’s not about the feminine color, it’s about the fit. Women’s technical backpacks are specifically designed not only for a shorter torso, but for thinner and more curved shoulder straps and belts to accommodate narrower shoulders, bust and hips specific to a woman’s body shape. Though some women may fit a men’s pack just fine, and some men may prefer a slim women’s fit, This is one of the few items in the shop that it is crucial to make certain you find the correct fit for your body. It only takes a mile on the trail to notice the chafing in your armpits due to shoulder straps that are too wide for you.
Let us help you!
There really are a lot of variables in terms of finding the right fit, adjusting it to you correctly and testing it with weight distributed correctly. Our trained technicians. help you through all the fit and adjustment issues to ensure you have a pack suited for you. Stop in and give us a try.