The backpack’s anatomy

After reading the rest of this post, you should have a better idea of how you like to utilise your pack and what you will and won’t be bringing with you. Then you can get down to business with the specifics, knowing what to look for in a new backpack for your hiking and trekking activities.

Why is it vital to understand the many components of a backpack?
Understanding the anatomy of a backpack will go a long way toward assisting you in selecting a pack that is suitable for your hiking and backpacking needs and tastes. Many of the features listed below will be overkill if you only plan on hiking for short day excursions. You’re best off going right to our hiking daypacks guide in that case.

The components of a backpack are described.


Most current multi-day hiking and trekking backpacks contain an internal frame that gives the pack rigidity and provides support to the wearer. To minimise weight, certain ultralight backpacks are frameless, and external frames are used in very few backpacks these days, though they are still manufactured.

Load-lifting equipment

These adjustable straps connect the top of the shoulder straps to the rest of the pack, drawing the weight of the pack closer to your torso. This helps to keep the pack from moving about unintentionally. They also assist in lifting some of the pack weight off your shoulders when properly positioned.

Strap around the sternum

A sternum strap’s height can normally be adjusted up and down the shoulder straps, and the straps can be tightened and relaxed across your chest. Some buckles even come with a built-in emergency whistle!

Belt for the hips

A decent hip belt should be cushioned and breathable, with adjustable straps that allow the belt to be tightened or loosened for the optimal fit. Hip belts that swivel on the rest of the pack are available on some high-end backpacks. This allows the burden to walk alongside you rather than against you.

Pockets on the hip belt

Although not all hip belts have pockets, they are ideal for keeping small goods such as hiking snacks, a GPS device, sunscreen, and other essentials on the route.

Harness for the shoulders

You should be able to adjust the shoulder harness of your backpack up and down to get a custom fit for your torso size. The width of the shoulder straps can also be changed by changing the harness laterally on high-end backpacks.

Port for hydration hose

To be hydration-compatible, a backpack should feature a port or hole where a hydration hose can be passed from the main compartment to the shoulder strap.

Clip for hydration hose

Some backpacks offer a clip or attachment point for your hydration hose on the shoulder strap. The objective of this is to keep the hose’s end from flying around while you walk.

Side pockets/water bottle holder

Water bottles may be conveniently accessed without taking off your pack thanks to the side pockets. They’re usually constructed of mesh or another light fabric with elasticized tops to keep the contents of the pockets secure.

Straps for compression

Backpacks frequently have compression straps on the sides and/or bottom. They can be used to secure stuff to the outside of the pack as well as cinching down the internal contents to keep the bag compact and stable.

Daisy chains/gear loops

Gear loops can be found on the outside of a backpack in a variety of places. They’re utilised to attach supplementary gear that requires quick access. Things that don’t fit in your pack or are too damp or dirty to fit inside your pack.

Loops of ice axe

Ice axe loops, which are usually situated at the bottom of a backpack, are designed to secure the axe’s head while the handle is attached to the pack by another attachment point or compression strap.

compartment for sleeping bag

Sleeping bag compartments are usually found at the bottom of the pack and give access to items (such as sleeping bags!) that are stowed there. Some compartments are completely distinct from the backpack’s main area, while others are separated by a zipped or removable piece of cloth.

Coverage from the rain

A rain cover for your rucksack is an extremely important feature that not all backpacks include. The packs that do have them usually have a special pocket for them. Some are even permanently linked to the pack, despite the fact that the majority are removable.

Sleeve for a hydration reservoir

This is normally found within a backpack’s main compartment. It should be large enough to fit a 2 litre (or larger) hydration reservoir inside. To keep the reservoir in place, some sleeves contain a clip or loop at the aperture.

Kangaroo pocket on the front

Kangaroo pockets are simply huge pouches that don’t zip up or secure closed, and they differ from pack to pack. They’re great for temporarily keeping items like jackets, maps, and gloves when hiking – anything you need to get to quickly.

Pocket on the front

Many backpacks contain zipped compartments on the front of the pack, in addition to a kangaroo pocket, to help keep your gear organised and compartmentalised.

On multi-day backpacking journeys, finding the proper hiking backpack to suit your needs and preferences can be a game-changer. Your time in the wild can quickly become unenjoyable if your back and shoulders are uncomfortable. Similarly, if the backpack’s design doesn’t suit your gear or the way you use it, you’ll quickly become upset and waste time and energy trying to make do with what you have. If you get it properly, each excursion will make you fall more in love with your backpack!

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