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Camping Ergonomics Part 2: Gear - Invest in a good backpack!

Camping or hiking – or both – require the obvious, that is, something to store your essentials in! While it might save you money using the old college backpack you used to haul your books around in, you might end up spending your entire outdoors trip in discomfort. It’s best to invest in a good pack – your body will thank you later.

There are different types of backpacks depending on the activity – be it for day hiking, car or backcountry camping, or lengthy travel across your favorite destination country. However, don’t try using your 60 L backcountry pack that you would normally use for a week-long trip as a good substitute for a day hike. Remember that the larger an object is, the more likely you will fill it full of “stuff” that you don’t really need. That adds more weight to your trip.

So, keep it – and the contents – light and organized! Here are important tips to keep in mind when looking for a new/gently used backpack:

a. Make sure it is sized properly for your height and stature (like a pair of shoes, some packs are sized differently). There are also backpacks designed specifically for women. In general:

i. The pack’s length should be no larger than the size of the back from the shoulders to the waist – the base being slightly above the waist.

ii. Try it on by doing up the straps and hooks starting with the bottom first. The waist belt should sit at or slightly above the hipbone. Any lower indicates the pack will slide down (check this on the Gregory website for fit instructions). Then tighten the shoulder straps to make sure they lay snug and flat to the chest (not pinching or any gaps). Then do up the chest strap and make sure the pack is not dropping or drooping.

iii. The backpack weight, when packed, should be no more than 15% of your body weight. Therefore, the frame and materials should be sturdy yet lightweight and keep the pack small enough to only pack what is necessary.

1. Ie: individual’s weight: 150 lbs = backpack weight of 20 lbs max

2. Ie: individual’s weight: 200 lbs = backpack weight of 25 lbs. max

iv. Other tips: use both shoulder straps, pack heavier items at the bottom first.

b. Features to consider: Frame, materials, etc.

i. Wide shoulder straps will distribute the weight and not dig into the body.

ii. Several compartments for both organization and the prevention of objects shifting around inside the pack.

iii. Padded and breathable backing for durability as well as comfort.

iv. A waist belt to distribute weight more evenly and reduce injury.

v. Cinchable loops to store hiking poles.

vi. For day hikes, look for mesh or ventilated backing for more breathability in the heat.

c. Recommended products:

i. http://gregorypacks.com/

ii. http://marmot.com/equipment/

iii. https://www.ospreypacks.com/ca/en/

Technical Packs - Osprey Packs

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