We suggest you also read our other articles: Backpack Buying Guide, Backpack Sizing, and Backpack Types.
In the previous article, we looked at the different Backpack Types. In
this section, we are going to look at the differences in Backpack
Anatomy and the features that a backpack might have. By knowing all
about the backpack types and the possible features, you will be able to
Choose the Right Backpack
Depending on the intended use of the backpack, you could look for the
or External Frames
In larger backpacks a
sturdy frame structure gives better support. In the old days most
larger backpacks had external aluminum tubing frames that could be seen
from the outside of the backpack. Nowadays most backpacks have internal
frames hidden in the fabric sheaths that consist of a combination of
tough but lightweight materials.
A general rule for the
shoulder harness is that the number of technical features increases as
the load increases. Simple shoulder straps will do for lighter loads
but for heavier loads go for curved, broader and more padded shoulder
straps that prevent the straps from cutting into your shoulders. Look
for a Chest/Sternum Strap that help prevent your shoulders from being
pulled back and further help to distribute the load. Look for upper
Chest Strap / Sternum
These straps are often
connected across your chest using a clip-lock. By connecting and
tightening them you prevent your backpack from pulling your shoulders
A hip belt is the way to
move the strain of a backpack from your shoulders down to your hips and
closer to your center of gravity. All people will find that a hip belt
helps to make a backpack's load more bearable. However, it differs per
person when a hip belts become a necessity. As the weight load
increases the effectiveness of the hip belt becomes more important.
Look for a hip belt that goes full circle under the lumbar pad and not
just side straps from the base of the backpack. Make sure the belt has
soft and broad padding to avoid pressure points that could quickly
become very painful. Heavier loads will cause the hip belt to slide
down so look for high-friction fabrics.
Inner and Outer Pockets
Inner and outer pockets
allow for a better seperation of your provisions, gear and other
backpack contents. Outer Pockets are mostly used for items that have to
be available while Hiking. Outer Pockets should not be over weighted to
prevent a shift in center of mass.
Many backpacks have either
built in water bladders hydration packs or have a special pocket for a
water bladder and a hole to facilitate the drinking tube.
Backpacks are generally
not 100% waterproof so some backpacks have a built in or seperate
splash cover which is basically a waterproof cover that you can use to
cover your entire backpack. It effectively places your backpack in a
waterproof bubble. This feature is very handy during rain storms, to
cross rivers and to keep your backpack protected from dew during nights.
Most larger backpacks have
a top compartement which can be flipped backwards to give access to the
backpack's inside pockets. Access to the backpack is protected by the
spindrift collar which is a large cover that can be shut with a
Bungee Cords &
Most backpacks have either
bungee cords or equipment straps or a combination of the both that
provide you with the means to fix equipement to the outside of the
backpack. Hiking Poles, Ice Axes and Crampons and good examples of gear
that can often be attached to the outside of your backpack.
These are the features that your Hiking Backpack might have. Knowing
the Hiking Backpack Anatomy and Features will help you in narrowing
down your selection. Choose the backpack which meets your requirements.