Trail’s pick of the best backpacks
MAIN COMPARTMENT ENTRY
The entry to the main compartment is often protected by a buckle lid which may be attached directly to the pack, or it may have webbing buckles that allow it to float and be raised when the main compartment is overstuffed with gear. There are pros and cons of both designs. An entry at the base or front of the main compartment is useful for overnight users to allow separation and easy access of equipment.
At least one external zipped pocket is useful for guidebooks, maps and GPS receivers, but some people like more and others can tolerate less. Stretch pockets without zips are commonly placed on the front of the rucksack and these are ideal for stowing waterproof jackets between showers. Pockets on the hipbelt are ideal for snacks and GPS receivers. Lid pockets are great for guidebooks, sunglasses or sun cream.
The shoulder straps take some of the weight, but they need to be carefully contoured and padded to make them comfortable. As we are all different shapes, it’s important to try them for size, fit and comfort before parting with cash.
These are on the sides of some rucksacks and allow you to compress the body of the sack to help stabilise the load. They are also useful for stashing items onto the side of the rucksack, such as trekking poles and waterproof jackets.
This is designed to carry most of the load if the pack is heavy, but when carrying lighter loads it may only be used to ensure stability of the pack. But either way, it should fit snugly around your hips while being comfortable and easy to adjust. Look for some foam padding for maximum comfort.
WAND / SIDE STRETCH POCKETS
Originally designed for avalanche probes or ‘wands’, these pockets on the side of a rucksack are often made of stretchy mesh fabrics and are ideal for stashing tent poles, trekking poles and smaller items, such as water bottles or snacks.