|Typical day pack for trekking|
On a recent South Col trek in Ladakh, I noticed one of our trekkers struggling with the straps of his day pack. When I enquired, I learnt that the narrow waist band strap had broken and as a result all the pressure of the load was on his shoulders! The load was slowly pressing on the shoulders and causing this trekker a lot of pain and discomfort. I realised that the day pack he had chosen was not suitable for trekking - it would have been fine for city commuting or carrying a laptop!
So this set me thinking - there are so many day packs out there but very few are suitable for the rigors of the trail for seven to eight hours a day with a load of around ten to fifteen pounds.
This post details with some of the features which make a good day pack for trekking.
The ideal trekking day pack should be between 22 and 30 litres. This is more than adequate for all the items which we need to carry for a trek. Around 25 to 26 litres should be perfect. Very often a company has different models for men and women.
A number of pockets are useful especially to keep snacks and other items which can be easily accessed without opening the pack. Some day packs have pockets on the waist strap which is a great feature! It is also useful to have a stretch pocket outside which can be used to put in a rain jacket or fleece when it is not needed without opening the pack.
This is most important in a day pack. Do not buy a day pack without a waist support or a flimsy narrow support which will not be sufficient for a whole day's walking. The waist support shown on the left is broad enough to support the waist as well as it has a pocket to store essentials! The photo below shows a waist strap properly tightened and the trekking poles secured to the day pack so that they can be used as needed!
This is especially useful if you are using a hydration bladder like Platypus or any other similar one. The bladder filled with water in put into the sleeve and a tube comes out through the gap shown and can be fixed to the day pack straps and used for drinking. This allows you to reduce the number of stops for water on the trek.
This is also an essential day pack feature which surprisingly many companies omit. It helps to keep the load properly positioned and balanced. The position of the sternum strap can be properly adjusted up or down as needed. The photograph on the left shows the sternum strap and it also shows a ventilated back panel which is also useful as the pack does not stick to the shirt. Osprey one of the world leaders in packs calls this the "Airscape" back panel as air can pass and cool the trekker! Other companies have variants to this as well.
Some of the international companies which make top of the line day packs are Osprey, Gregory, Deuter, The North Face etc. Do visit their web sites to see what is on offer.
How to choose a Day Pack
How to Pack for a Day Walk
Day Pack Buying Advice