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Backpack Selection


I was wondering anyone could provide some pointers on what to look for in a backpack. How to tell if it is a of good quality, what features are most useful, and what features are a waste of funds.

Any specific recommendations are welcome of course. I will most likely be buying one from my local Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.
Wow! Now there is a can worms!!
I found that my backpack, empty, weighed 4.5 pounds!! Definitely won't do that again. Another poster, Linda C, has a really light pack - from learning to dislike any possessions not made out of Helium I would only go for a REALLY light pack in the future - everything else is secondary as far as I'm concerned - next time I'm not even taking a sleeping bag!

my back pack too weighed about 4pounds., but i found there wasn'tmuch choice for something lighter at mountian equipment co-op. try gregory packs. i found it ok. i found that travelling in may a sleeping bag wasn't necessary as there are blankets everywhere but monasteries.good luck, a pack should have a place for a water bladder, the more hooks the more weight, i loved hanging my camera on the outside of my pack.
I have a similar question... however, I already have a backpack and am wondering if it would be smart to get another one. I am fairly broke, so would like to avoid it if possible. It's a relatively new pack, not sure how much it weighs (around 4lbs maybe?), and it just sort of normal backpacking size. I plan on packing light so know I won't come close to filling it, but am wondering if other people hike with standard-size packs or not, and what their experiences are.
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I can't speak highly enough of AARN backpacks, you can find them online although I bought mine from a shop in Sydney Australia. The maker is a New Zealander who went back to basics to design a pack that is truly comfortable - it is designed to be fitted to your exact body, and it is so perfect that even loaded it is much more comfortable to wear than a normal light daypack. It even comes with a dvd to show you how to get it just right. I also went super light on the road, about 6 kg total including the pack, after shedding a lot of gear and posting a box on to Santiago- it's amazing what you can manage with (and without) even in the winter.
Lightweight backpack

Yes, my rucksack only weights about a l lb too and I don't plan on taking more than 6K max and I'm aiming for 5. I already wrote about the rucksack - see


I loved it on our shortish walk (90 miles) last summer in cold Northumberland but I don't know how it will be in hot weather. I'll find out.
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.
Magnara - Would you please let me know which of the AARN packs that you used - funnily enough, I did see a New Zealand couple walking from SJPP with one small pack in front and a larger pack on the back
We both chose the Featherlite Freedom style in the Aarn backpack, in the short length (I can't remember the litres capacity, but I think it was a choice of about 35 or 70) My husband at first chose the longer one, thinking it would be better to have extra space, but he changed it for a bettter body fit, I am 5'6" he is 5'8". If you are tall, the longer one might be better. You don't need a cover, they are completely waterprof - you could float them down a river. The 2 front "balance packs" that come with it are part of the system, although once I trimmed my weight right down I didn't use mine. My husband kept his going and carried the water, guidebook and a few other heavy things in his.
Well, I finally got my pack. I took the advice offered here, as well as advice from some backpacking friends in Australia, and I got the Gregory z55.

There were some other packs (like the aarn which is on sale on their site right now) that I was interested in, but the main advice I felt I had to accept was try it on before you buy. That left me with shopping at MEC as there really isn’t too much else available locally.

But over all I’m happy wit the purchase. Thanks for the advice! :)
Weight is obviously a bit of an issue, but don't forget how important the fit of the pack is... I've got two and I'm still wondering which one I'll end up taking, either my 55l MHW pack or smaller 30ish litre day sack...

Compression straps are handy and try to look for something that you can attach your poles to, if you are planning on taking poles...
Pack selection

My wife and I each carried “Lookout” backpacks from REI. Mine was 44 liters (2700 ccs) and hers was 41 liters (2500 ccs).

Her carry weight was 15 pounds with 2 lbs 12 oz being the pack. Mine was 22 lbs with 2 lb 14 oz in the pack.

They worked great. Several outside pockets for water, food, etc., and several different inside compartments for easy loading and access. The weight is distributed to the shoulders by straps and hips by a belt. I think they cost about $ 80. US, each.

Buen Camino
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You will really like the Gregory - I got one from MEC as well and although it is not only 1lb, the fit is perfect. I used it on the CF and it stood up well. I am currently wearing it training, at 10 kg - will be about 6 kg on the Camino.

Buen camino!


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