As a matter of fact, the hiking backpack is one of the most important gear pieces. It’s an item you’ll be carrying all the time, especially if you’re hiking. You should get a bag that’s not too big or too small for your needs.
Most experienced campers and hikers would tell you that a 70l backpack is way more than you need. In some cases, a bag of such volume can even be more of a hindrance than an asset. Before choosing the size of the backpack for your next adventure, you should consider what kind of trip you’re going on.
Many factors of the trip, such as weather conditions or the duration of the trip will affect your decision.
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For What Type of a Trip Do You Need a Backpack?
The type of adventure you’re planning will determine what size of backpack you’ll need. If you can, consider the conditions you’ll be facing when on your trip and decide on a bag according to them. If you’ll encounter less water, you might want to save more space for it in your backpack. Likewise, if you’re going on a trip with someone else, you can split up the load.
If you’re not looking to get a backpack for a specific trip, but a pack you’ll be using for all of your trips and everyday use, a 70l backpack is too much. Instead, you should get a 35l or a 50l pack. Get the smaller one if you don’t spend too many consecutive nights in the wild, and the 50l one if you like camping for more than a week at a time. If you get a backpack with good compression straps, you can use a 50l pack as your everyday carry.
How Much Food and Water Are You Carrying?
Will water and food be readily available on your trip or will you have to bring them with you? If you’re going to a place where you might not find a water source for two or three days, you’ll want to carry enough of it to stay properly hydrated. Alternatively, if you’re going somewhere it’s easy to find water, you won’t need to save all that space. So you can ask yourself whether you really need it.
Even if you have to carry a lot of food, you can find dehydrated trail foods or MREs to avoid needing a 70l pack. It all boils down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice comfort for a lighter pack. And most experienced hikers know that it is worth the sacrifice.
What Weather Conditions Are You Expecting to Encounter?
Weather will also play a crucial role when it comes to deciding whether you need a larger or smaller backpack. If you’re camping or hiking in cold weather you’ll need warmer clothes. Spare clothes and socks take up more space in your pack.
Likewise, if you’re hiking in a humid environment, you’re more likely to sweat and change your clothes. So, you’ll need more spare clothes, which will require a bigger pack.
In a situation where you’ll be hiking under blazing sunlight for the entire day, you’ll want to have sunscreen and some towels you can wrap around your neck to keep you warm. Both of these things will take up some additional space in your backpack.
Now, does this mean that you’ll need a 70l pack?
Well, in most cases the answer would be – no.
Unless you’re planning to go on an expedition-level adventure, you won’t need a 70l backpack. Sure, it’s good to have redundancies when going into rough weather, but are they really worth lugging around a bulky backpack? If you’ll be hiking with your backpack for long periods of time, over days or weeks, then no, they’re not.
What Is the Duration of the Trip?
The more time you spend on the trip, the bigger your backpack will need to be. Most trips that will require you to have a 70l backpack will be over a week. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never need a 70l pack if your trip is shorter than 7 days.
If you’re planning to backpack across the globe, and you don’t know when you’re going to be back, you should consider using a bigger pack. While you might not necessarily need a 70l pack, it could be useful to have more space.
How Many Tools Are You Trying to Fit In Your Backpack?
Unless you’re an ultralight camping expert and you go backpacking with just a multitool, you’ll need some space in your pack for all your gear.
Will you ever need a 70l pack for your basic survival items? Highly unlikely.
This might happen only in cases where you need lots of gear to overcome difficult conditions. If you’re expecting the weather to change or you’re hiking through various different conditions and you need to bring snowshoes and shorts for the same trip.
You also might want to get a larger pack if you’re carrying a lot of special equipment. For example, if you’re into wildlife photography, you might need a 70l pack to accommodate all the cameras, batteries, chargers, and tripods. Or if you’re planning on doing some bushcraft, you might use a 70l to bring all the tools you’ll be using.
PROTIP: If you’re going on a trip with other people you can divide the tools you’ll need for that trip among yourselves. This way no one needs to have everything and everyone’s pack will be lighter.
Finally, the size of your pack will depend on the type of shelter you will bring with you. The larger the tent, the largest the pack you’ll need. The same goes for sleeping bags. Hammocks and tarps are easier to carry as they take up way less space, which is why they are preferred among ultralight campers and hikers.
Whether You’ll Need a 70l Pack Will Depend on You
Finally, whether or not you’ll need a 70l backpack is entirely up to you and your experience. 70l packs are most commonly purchased by utter professionals looking to tackle challenging environments or complete amateurs who are probably buying their first pack.
Also, experienced campers and hikers tend to do more with less. So, they are likely to bring smaller packs even when hiking for longer periods of time.
Finally, shorter people tend to pack more easily into smaller backpacks. If you’re 6’4 the chances are that you’re not going to be able to pack your spare clothes in a 20l backpack, let alone your other gear. So, this should also be taken into consideration when choosing the pack.
All this being said, you should not be afraid to experiment and try out different gear. If you think you’ll need a 70l pack for your next trip, give it a go. You’ll either find that this is the perfect size of the pack for your needs or that you’ll need to rethink your pack choice for the next trip.
When Will You Need a 70l Backpack?
Trips that take place over a period of many days or weeks, but don’t require you to carry your pack at all times. For example, if you’re looking for a pack for the Appalachian Trail, you’ll want to avoid a 70l pack. “Why”, you might ask, “isn’t all the extra space useful?”. While it is convenient to have some free space in your pack, it shouldn’t be a lot of space. Empty space will make it more difficult to properly distribute the weight inside the pack.
There is another problem with having an oversized pack. We are likely to fill our entire bag, no matter its size. And a full 70l bag can weigh quite a bit, which will just be more weight you’ll need to carry around.
So, unless you’re planning an exhibition at one of the 7 summits, or planning to backpack around the world for a long time, avoid 70l backpacks. Additionally, no conditions that allow hammock camping will ever require you to have a 70l backpack.
How to Pick the Right Backpack?
Picking the perfect backpack for a trip is extremely important and should never be rushed. Don’t just grab the first pack that catches your eye, but think things through.
Your pack should be the perfect combination of utility and comfort. These are the things you’ll need to decide for yourself. What kind of pack do you like and which is the most comfortable one for you? Do you like one big compartment, or do you prefer many pockets on the sides? Do you need many MOLE straps to attach different equipment or do you want a clean and sleek pack?
However, no matter what your pack looks like or how many compartments it has, it should always have 2 things: hip straps and a waterproof cover.
Hips straps are absolutely essential as they will allow you to carry most of the weight on your hips. This will take the load from your shoulders and prevent nasty injuries down the line. The waterproof cover is also useful as it will protect your pack from rips and staining.
Additional Tips for Packing Your Backpack
- Pack the heaviest items close to your back and above your hips
- If you don’t want any loose webbing dangling about, use zip ties or double-sided velcro tape to secure it
- Pack last the items you use the most
- Use plastic bags to keep things you don’t want to get wet
- Your sleeping bag should move about if you have attached it to your backpack
- Never pack the heaviest items on the bottom of the bag