If You Want the Right Backpack, Ask the Right Questions

Picking a backpack would appear to be a simple task, but there are many features you should consider before selecting the most basic part of your gear. Regardless of where the trail takes you, you want to be ready. Such a backpack may be more expensive, but it is worth the investment. Before making a purchase decision, you need to answer some questions.

Overall Construction

The best quality backpacks should last for years, and you should look for the kind of material and workmanship that is capable of doing that. A good yank at the seams should pose no problem for the stitches. External loops should be reinforced and not sewn or connected directly to the fabric.

    • Is the backpack comfortable? It should fit properly and securely especially when filled. The weight should be well distributed so no part of your body is strained by bearing a disproportionate part of the weight.
    • Does it have plenty of durable padding?
    • Is the material strong but relatively lightweight?
    • Is the frame sturdy but relatively lightweight? Is it an external or internal frame? Do you have a preference?
    • Are the seams sturdy with multiple layers of stitching?
    • Can you carry a lot of weight and equipment with minimal effort?


General Design Considerations

How well prepared do you intend to be? What emergencies are you confident you can handle with the right equipment and tools? If it is possible to carry those items with you, you will want a backpack that can provide a way to do that. Before you select your backpack, you will want to create a reasonable list of necessary gear.

    • Can it handle all the equipment you want to carry? If you intend to hunt, can you bring along a rifle, bow and arrows, tripod, tree stand or whatever else is needed?
    • Is it possible to over-pack the top pocket if the need arises, and is there a compression strap that can stabilize the extra load?
    • Is there a sleeping bag compartment or some other way of securing a sleeping bag or, even, a small tent?

Personal Preferences

Now it comes down to the way you like to use a backpack. Does the idea of being able to reach for a straw while you are walking so you can take a sip of water appeal to you? Would you like a compartment that is easily reached while you are walking, so you can grab a snack without stopping? These are details that are very important yet are often overlooked.

    • How many easily accessible external pockets are wanted?
    • Is a hydration pocket and port necessary for easy access to hydration?
    • What kind of fabric do you prefer? If you want a camouflage, what kind? Do you prefer a solid color? If so, which color and why?
    • How many internal and external compartments do you want?
    • Are there plenty of hooks to attach things like utensils or army boots?

The more you think before buying, the happier you will be. While the perfect backpack probably doesn’t exist, you will get a lot closer if you ask the right questions before you buy.

Author: Belinda Cohen manages a store dedicated to the camper and hiker in all of us. She enjoys writing for http://www.polimil.co.uk about about survival topics.

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  1. Good post – very informative.

    My vote goes to the Voodoo Reaper LRRP Pack. I’ve had 2 minor issues with mine over the years – some stiching partially failed on the grab handle on one and a zipper failed because I tried to force it (my fault). Voodoo replaced the bag for free each time (even the second time when I told them I had abused their product).

  2. I have that very bag that is in the picture. The 5.11 Rush 24 hour backpack. It is one of THE best packs I have ever owned. I also have the Rush 72 hour bag from 5.11 for my Bug Out bag. 5.11 makes incredible gear. I would highly recommend there stuff. I also have there Moab bag for everyday use.

    You cannot go wrong with their gear


    Another favorite of mine is Maxpedition. Very tough and rugged gear. I have had there backpacks in the past and have no problems with them. That 1000 denier water and abrasion resistant balistic nylon fabric is hard to beat. There stuff is beyond compare. Love there gear. Backpacks do not have as many pockets as the 5.11 but they are just as sturdy.


    You can’t go wrong with either company.

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