9:18 p.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
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Hello Everyone, I'm new here and new to camping. I'm trying to decide on which backpack to get for me and my girlfriend as we have always loved hiking so we decided to try out camping this sprin/summer. Basically i'm looking for a comfortable backpack for the both of us (one for each of us obv.) mine ofcourse would have the heavier things in it. We plan to bring things like a tent, air matress, blanket, food, water, the basics. I would like it to all fit between the two packs which i think is very doable. But i also want the backpack to be comfortable. the matress will be in a vaccum sealed back that my portable pump can do and is used to pump up the matress. We are just planning over night camp, eventually maybe 2-3 days. Any suggestion on a good backpack for the both of us would be much appretiated, Thanks!

10:46 p.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
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As far as Packs go, there isn't a all around pack for everyone. The great thing about our time is that there are a lot to choose from. There is just so much to think about when buying a pack. Its all about personal fit so the best advice I can give you is go to your local outfitter and try them on!

3:40 a.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
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Your pack should be the last piece of gear you buy. Acquire all of your other equipment and then get a pack that will hold all of your gear, food, and water. When you've found a pack you think you like, bring your gear along and try it out. Finding a comfortable pack is like buying shoes, you have to try on several before you find the right fit.

There are two basic styles of packs; external frame and internal frame.

The external will generally give your back better ventilation and is better suited for use on trails where there are fewer obstructions to grab it as you walk past. It tends to have a higher center of gravity and IMO can be cumbersome at times.

The internal, which is the most popular style these days, holds the load closer to your body and gives poorer ventilation to your back. It has a lower center of gravity which gives you better balance and control of your load. This makes it better suited for rugged terrain and off trail excursions. This is the style that I prefer.

There are a bunch of good packs on the market so you should be able to find one that meets your needs. If you have access to an REI, I would suggest starting your search there. They have a good variety of packs to look at and the sales staff are generally quite helpful. Plus with their liberal return policy, if your first choice turns out to not meet your needs you can always return it and try something else.

Welcome to backpacking and to Trailspace.

8:38 a.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
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How about just a few tips.

You are new at this so dont over spend. Get a good tent, not the best. And waterproof it in the yard. Sleeping gear should be rated 20 degrees cooler than you think the coldest temps will be. As far as the pack. I have both external and internal. I lost weight the last year and the internal no longer fits. The external ,an old Kelty, I could adjust it to fit.

if you are just going out for a night or two you will be staying on well maintained trails. I would get an external. It will alow you to adjust on the trail, stap stuff to the sides of the frame, just alittle more flexable. After a year or two you will know better all that you need on a trip. Then buy the internal.

9:57 a.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
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123 forum posts

welcome torack----

there are many-man articles on gear choosing in the forums, read as many as you can, as they all have some very good opinions. pull out what you think is the good advice than head to your local gear store. unfortunately i disagree with snowgoose. as that you are gonna put everything on your back, i think you should buy a good pack and tailor quite a bit of your shopping towards what fits into the pack. that way you leave behind the unnecessary things. if you and your girlfriend are anything like the new scouts we work with; their may be a tendancy to over-pack......

once you find a pack you like check ebay & craigslist & the classifieds here. you may be able to save some $$$ on things. another suggestion would be to buy used gear to begin and upgrade as you discover what you like and do not like. nothing worse than shelling out big $$$ only to discover you don't like something or you decide not to camp and have stuff stored away not getting used.

good luck

10:48 a.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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148 forum posts

take a lazy weekend and check out many of the websites. then if you can borrow someone packs, go to local outfitters,put weight in thm and go shopping. i cant think of a more critical item concerning comfort on the trail then your backpack. choose carefully and wisely,go as light as possible but also keep in mind the weight you are putting into your pack. if you are only carrying around 20 tot. lbs. then check out gossamer and and other ultralights and please for all our sakes, choose gear in earth tone colors to reduce the visual impact in outdoors.

11:04 a.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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I have say that a backpack is a lifetime investment. Take your time and go to several places and try different packs on especially with weight in them. Take the time to make sure the staff has been trained on how to fit that brand of backpack. Many of the new packs have several adjustments which if you are not fitted properly could result in a very unpleasant experience.
After you have narrowed down the type and brand name then do some shopping for that pack.
Your pack is the foundation for all your other equipment and needs to be versatile comfortable and that will make all your trips rain or shine great.

11:16 a.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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415 forum posts

One other suggestion: rent your gear the first few times and see how well you like backpacking.

Hiking with all that weight, combined with sleeping on the ground, takes getting used to. You might like it fine but you might also hate it, and then you'd be stuck with all that gear.

4:42 p.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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Or you could go out and buy the most expencive stuff you can. Then sell it to us at the end of the season. ;)

3:47 a.m. on February 19, 2010 (EST)
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ya if ya can take her to a shop and get here meshered most places will fill da pack with something and let her try it on.then go to da internet and find one cheeper lol.thats what we did.

10:04 p.m. on February 19, 2010 (EST)
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155 forum posts

Here's another suggestion. I don't know how much you've shopped yet and maybe you already know this, but head to an outdoor store and have them measure your torso. You'll need to get the right pack for your size. Also, don't just guess on it. If you're 6 foot 5, don't assume you'll just get a large pack. Vice versa, if you are 5 foot 1, don't assume you are small. Torso size varies for everyone. Make sure you get those measurements.

Make sure she gets her torso measured as well.

As far as what pack, the best thing is for you to be honest with yourself and really think about what you plan on using it for. If you just plan on going out for overnight trips, maybe at the most two like you said, you'll want to go with a smaller type pack. It's going to be up to you, but don't think of going with a huge pack because it has a whole lot of space and you'll be able to carry more. What generally happens is when people do this, they tend to fill the pack up with crap that's not even needed. Then you've got a 30-pound pack and you could have been down to 20.

If you all are new, I really would suggest maybe looking online for some bargains like what was suggested. I wouldn't be so concerned about the name brands. Just look for something that sounds right to you.

But the big thing is have some fun.

12:52 a.m. on February 22, 2010 (EST)
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Another thing to possibly consider would be to try and find a pack that compresses around smaller loads well. This way as long as the tendency to over pack is under check than you can cinch down the bag for the warm overnights when you aren't taking as much stuff but then on longer and/or colder trips when you might need more or bulkier gear you can expand out your space and have more room. People working at your local gear shop could be able to point you in the right direction with this. Getting a pack that fits and is comfortable is definitely the most important thing though.

1:49 a.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
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440 forum posts

Only thing I'll add: You won't get the perfect pack. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you spend, no matter what measurements are taken, and no matter whom you ask for advice. So decide what the most important things are for you--I'd suggest fit for somewhere near the top of the list--and work from there. One of the biggest keys to success and happiness is being able to recognize when "good enough" really is good enough. You'll know when you're in the middle of day two. Until then, it's educated choices and informed decisions at whatever level suits you--or so we hope!

Oh, and one other thing: until you find a pack that fits you (and your gear), pay no attention to color and extra "features". The uber-fashionable color (Cimarron Valley Red? Elegant Black Spruce? Daylight Kiss Cyan?) and the latest in daisy chains and side pockets aren't worth spit if the pack doesn't fit you, your gear, and the trip.

9:39 p.m. on February 24, 2010 (EST)
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On a practical note you might consider picking up an on-sale day pack built by one or another reputable companies, like Kelty or whoever, load it up and go for some long walks, lots of 'em, and maybe even sleep outside close to home for a couple of nights with nuthin' but what's you can carry, so you can get some experience as quickly as possible. Make some muscle-memory.

This will help you recognize what feels best when it comes time to buy a full-tilt pack. Muscle-memory matters. You can't just start putting on different packs inside a store, improperly loaded, and expect a good purchase result. It is important to build the muscle-memory you have to have in order to make a rational decision. You can't do that wandering around an outfitter's shop trying to get some vague cues from your un-educated physic as to whether or not the Ospree Fire Bird or the Vulcan Meridian is the right pack for you. I've seen lots of people get sucked into the technology and, having lost their minds, buy what doesn't ultimately work. That mistake is unecessary.

Just the facts as they lay. Besides, you're gonna' need a day pack for most of your walkin' around anyway. You won't need a pack capable of more than that until you figure out what you're doin' and that's going to take a while.

Buy the day pack first, spend the next several months hauling it round and round and up and down. Spend some time thinking about what the last hike taught you. What you learn will teach you what you need.

Deliberate, decidedly not impulsive is the important idea here. Resist temptation.

And above all else, HYOH.


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