Backpacking Backpacks

After 20 years with our old backpacking backpacks it was time to trade them in. And since hiking backpacks are such an important and integral piece of any outdoor hiking gear we were willing to put in the time and effort to properly research which packs would be best for us.

Part of this research meant checking out reviews from other wearers and going to stores to try on different brands for both fit and comfort. I don't believe that there is any single pack that is best for all body types or all hikers. Hiking backpacks are as individual as hiking boots and trekking poles. What fits for one doesn't always fit for another.

After waterproof tarps for trailers was done we knew that we wanted to stick with the Osprey brand of hiking backpacks. They have a lot of choices within their lineup of backpacks and it was partly due to their commitment to quality and their All Mighty Guarantee that had us committed to their backpack choices.

The history, in brief, of Osprey really does speak to their continued commitment to quality. The company started out shortly after 1974 when Mike Pfotenhauer, at the age of 16 sewed his first backpack for himself. This after years of hiking with his family wearing uncomfortable and ill fitting backpacks. He then started creating custom fitted, made to order backpacks for fellow hikers.

By 1987 he was selling his backpacks at the wholesale level and he was very involved in both the design and production quality of each backpack.

In 2009 the company came out with their All Mighty Guarantee which meant free repairs on any pack. "Any product, any reason, any era". This means that no matter when you bought your Osprey and no matter what has happened to it, they'll repair it free of charge and if they can't repair it, they'll replace it for you. Now who can beat that?

Mike Pfotenhauer also believes that "Osprey is, in large part, about exceptional relationships between the pack and wearer, between the pack and its makers and between the company and its staff".

What we also like about their packs is the custom molding of the hipbelts and the adjustable torsos. These are two features that make wearing their backpacking backpacks so much more comfortable than other brands.

School is starting again as fall approaches. Having all of the right items helps students settle in and be prepared for a great start to the new school year.

Some things to consider when shopping for a backpack are the number of straps the backpack has - two straps distribute the weight of the bag evenly and place less stress on the shoulders and upper back.

waterproof tarp 20 x 20 with wheels place very little stress on the back and are actually preferable to standard backpacks especially with heavier loads, but check with your school to make sure these type are allowed. You still need to make sure you are lifting this type of backpack properly when getting on and off the bus or lifting it from floor to desk using straight back and bending the knees rather than placing the full load on the back by just bending over to pick up the bag.

Backpacks come in all shapes, sizes and brands including Nike SB backpacks, Hurley backpacks and even Gucci backpacks. For example you can get a Nike SB Buzz Lightyear backpack for younger kids, but avoide the Nike SB leather backpack as it is heavier than the bags that use lighter materials.

Kids should always use both shoulder straps instead of straddling the bag over one shoulder with one strap. Packing the heaviest items on the bottom keeps them lower and closer to the body. Watch any sharp edged objects so they do not poke you in the back.

Limiting the load can also help reduce back strain as heavy backpacks can affect the way we walk and our posture. Extended periods of wearing a heavy backpack can cause you to lean forward to compensate which reduces balance and makes it easier to fall. This compensation can also change the natural curves in the middle and lower back causing muscle strain as well as rounding of the shoulders.

Avoid pain and strain to the back, neck and shoulders by limiting the load, getting a double strap high quality model or a bag with wheels. Wearing the backpack lower on the back is also considered less strenuous on the back, but not too low. The bottom of the backpack should be about 2 inches above the waist.

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