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The Best Backpack for the Walk

Your backpack is your trusty companion on the trail, carrying everything you need to enjoy a comfortable and invigorating walking adventure. Here are some handy tips to help you find the perfect fit:

The Best Backpack for the Walk

On a Country Walkers guided adventure, so many things are taken care of for you—including a set of sturdy walking poles, luggage transportation to each hotel, and a knowledgeable local guide to lead the way. However, one thing you will need to consider is the best backpack for your walk—one that will be your trusty companion on the trail, carrying everything you need to enjoy a comfortable and invigorating walking adventure. Here are some handy tips to help you find the perfect fit:

1.      Frame or No Frame

These days, backpack frames are often concealed beneath the outer layers of fabric, giving modern frame packs a sleek appearance—but don’t let that fool you, these sturdy little frame packs get the job done. Frame packs are designed to distribute weight evenly for the most comfortable biomechanics under heavy loads—and are recommended as a primary pack for your Country Walkers adventure. Long-gone are the days of one-size-fits-all—today’s backpacks are are designed specifically to fit the the needs of women’s bodies and men’s bodies, and there’s a lot to be said for trying on different styles until you find the one that fits your body best.

While most frameless packs won’t be sturdy enough to support your needs on longer walks, they’re perfect for a free afternoon exploring a local city—where all you really need to carry is a water bottle, a few personal items, and some small mementos you might pick up along the way. The Country Walkers Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack is an excellent option to consider—and in 2024, is available to select as your complementary Country Walkers guest gift. “It’s a nice, small backpack,” says Country Walkers President Timo Shaw. “It’s compact enough so you can easily throw it in your suitcase, but it holds enough stuff for a little walk around town. It has a spot for a water bottle—and if you’re walking around and stop at the shops, it has enough room to carry a few souvenirs.” This lightweight pack is incredibly versatile and can be easily packed in your suitcase without taking up much space.

2.      Don’t Skimp on Capacity

Maybe you’re a minimalist with a preference for packing light. In many ways, we applaud you—but when it comes to your backpack, we recommend something substantial. On a Country Walkers adventure, you’ll need a backpack with enough capacity to fit your rain gear, extra clothing, a camera, personal items, a packed lunch, and plenty of water. Your best bet is a good, hardy daypack with a minimum capacity of 25 liters.

3.      A Dry Back is a Happy Back

Ventilation is a key factor to consider when choosing a backpack. Some backpacks sit right up against your back and don’t have any ventilation built in—leaving your back damp with exertion. Instead, consider a backpack with a mesh ventilation layer between the frame and your back—giving your body some extra breathing room to stay cool and dry. Some packs offer a system of ventilation channels that run through the straps and down the back of the pack, moving warm air away from your body to keep you comfortable—and these are also great options for keeping your back nice and dry.

4.      Shouldering the Weight

When you’re planning to carry your backpack for several miles per day, shoulder comfort is an essential factor. The contour and thickness of your pack’s shoulder straps will make all the difference to your comfort—so be sure to try many styles before you pick the one that feels best to you. Another great reason to try on your pack before you make a selection, is to ensure you’re able to adjust the straps to fit your body in an ergonomically correct position. Remember, every body is different—so a pack that fits your best friend might not work as well for you.

5.      Put Your Hips into It

Believe it or not, packs with thick hip straps that cinch around your waist take a lot of weight off your shoulders—making for an easier, more comfortable walk over long distances. While not every daypack offers hip straps, we recommend trying on a few that do. Maybe even weigh them down with a book or two in the store so you can really feel the difference. Over the course of a long hike, a good, well-adjusted hip strap helps you maintain a healthy posture and saves you from uncomfortable shoulder strain.

6.      Wetting Your Whistle

Another essential factor to consider is hydration. Some walkers prefer to carry water bottles—if this sounds like you, you’ll want a pack with plenty of water bottle holders for hot days when one or two small bottles simply won’t cut the mustard. Other walkers love to travel with a hydration pack and hose that you can sip from while on the move. These have the advantage of allowing you to hydrate without breaking stride—just unclip your hose and wet your whistle. The disadvantage here? The hose tends to dangle and can sometimes get in the way. But many packs account for this by including handy clips to keep everything organized and secure.

7.      Break It In!

OK, we all know it’s a good idea to break in a new pair of hiking boots before you wear them on the trail, but a backpack? Come on! In all seriousness, it really is a good idea to break in your backpack on one or two shorter walks before you bring it with you on vacation. Load it up with some decent weight and adjust the straps and supports until you find your sweet spot. It even helps to wear it around town to get your muscles fired up and accustomed to working under a heavier load—and many people even hop on the treadmill with a loaded backpack to help tone up those back and shoulder muscles. This kind of training will save you from any uncomfortable distractions as you begin your walking adventure—leaving you free to take in the majestic scenery and enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

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