What Is Daypacking?
Daypacks are the new kids on the block and as a result have generally been the subject of much curiosity. For those of you who have never heard of daypacks, it is defined as a bag which basically does not have a frame and came be used for hiking. Simply put, daypacks are a type of backpacks but much more flexible.
An average daypack has a size of 600 to 2500 cubic inches. The size obviously depends on what the user wishes to use it for. If you are a serious hiker then obviously you would wish to invest in a daypack with hydration facilities and a large capacity to sustain you through tedious terrains. On the other hand, smaller capacity daypacks can be used by children for picnics. Read on to find out more about what is daypacking.
Types of Daypacks to Use for Serious Day Hiking
If you are a serious aficionado when it comes to hiking, here are some of the features I would recommend you to look for in your daypack:
Internal Frame – The daypack should have an internal frame. The frame is instrumental in distributing weight. Therefore, an efficient frame would essentially re-distribute the weight from the shoulder to the hips. This would, in turn, allow people to travel longer distances and maintain better balance on mountain trails.
Compatible with hydration – Since you would be trekking around hilly regions, it would be a good idea to have hydration facilities on your daypack. Most daypacks are equipped with at least a 2 or 3 liters capacity.
Capacity – It is usually recommended that you invest in a daypack with a smaller capacity than you need. This, in fact, allows you to pack in a more proficient manner, carrying things that you need and cutting out surplus items. However, if you are sure that you need a bigger capacity daypack, then invest in a bag with a capacity of 1800 cubic inches.
Lightweight – It is common knowledge that the lesser your daypack weighs, the better it is. In general, the weight of your daypack at the time of purchase should be 2.5 pounds or less.
Brands – Branding is substantially important while investing in a daypack because that guarantees quality. A few of them would be Osprey, Marmot, Patagonia and Black Diamond.
Different Available Styles
Daypacks for hiking can be categorized under two heads – General Daypacks and Technical Daypacks.
These are usually the most popular types of daypacks available and can be fairly used for most of the everyday tasks like commuting or bike rides. Daypacks like these are pretty economical and can be used for shopping around the city and “around the house”. The many pockets that the daypack has allow you to store a variety of diverse things.
However, for all its everyday utility, the daypack poses many problems, especially when it comes to serious hiking. For starters, these daypacks are not durable at all and can’t be adjusted. While these may just about carry the goods, it is recommended that you use the technical daypack if you are more interested in some serious hiking.
The technical daypacks as the name suggests are more “technically’’ constructed than the more popular generic counterpart. This variant usually has all the features that are incorporated in the larger backpacks. The unique advantage that the technical daypack brings to the table primarily is its size.
Apart from that, the technical daypack also has an internal frame, a water bladder, a pocket to carry outdoor gear, durability, and lightweight. All these features ensure that the technical daypack offers an unmatched performance that cannot be matched by its generic counterpart.
Features of Technical Daypacks
The Internal Frame – Technical daypacks usually have an internal frame made of aluminum built in. The frame is important because it enables the user to constantly re-distribute the weight from shoulders to the hips. This ensures that no single part of the body receives a lot of weight and as a result starts paining.
There are also a series of technical daypacks available without a frame. These are used by rock climbers who require a greater flexibility when it comes to their bags.
There are quite a few advantages of distributing the weight in such a manner. Firstly, the re-distribution of weight allows the hiker to improve his balance and at the same time facilitates movement.
This makes it relatively easier for the hiker to travel across rocky terrains. Secondly, redistribution of weight accounts for a reduced shoulder fatigue. Therefore, there are lesser chances of the hiker suffering from a back injury while carrying the daypack. There the technical daypacks can be used in a better fashion for long hikes.
The Water Bladder – The water bladder is an extremely useful addition. For the uninitiated, the bladders are a container which is flexible and have a straw coming out. To drink the hiker just needs to sip from the straw. Who wants to go back to water bottles after this neat hack? I certainly don’t want to.
How to determine the size of a daypack?
So now, you have gone ahead and weighed the pros and cons and even decided on a choice of the daypack. What remains to be seen is which size suits your needs. Now, most daypacks are available in two variants – small/medium and medium/large. Before you decide to invest in a size, it is important to go through the size guide. The size guide classifies daypack size based on the user’s torso height.
Since there is no consistency among brands when it comes to size, it is better to refer directly to the dimensions of the brand itself. A broad assumption would usually dictate that anyone short of 5-4’ would be better off with a small pack. Users ranging in heights between 5-4″ and 5-9″ find both sizes to be ok, and for people above 5-9″ the large daypack is most suitable for them.
Considering how the daypack market segment has exploded in the last couple of years, the market is flooded with products of all types. It is, therefore, extremely easy for the unsuspecting customer to invest in an unsuitable product. So there should be some broad assumptions that you should get right while buying a daypack. Apart from the size and the internal frame that I have pointed out in the article, there are also a number of features worth considering.
Firstly, strap adjustments – straps are an essential part of any daypack. Straps help shift weight and offer mobility and support. Therefore, while investing in a daypack, always prefers products with sternum and riser straps. Secondly and most importantly, color. The role that color plays is seriously underestimated. Investing in a high visibility color like fluorescent green would ensure that other rescuers spot you easily in the event of an accident.