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 following features:
Internal 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 stabilizer straps.
Chest Strap / Sternum Strap
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 back.
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 Configuration
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 drawstring
Bungee Cords & Equipment Straps
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.