5 features I don't want in a new hiking backpack

Buying a new backpack for hiking or travelling? We list five things we don't want our new pack to have as a feature.

Looking around outdoors stores for a new backpack is not our idea of fun. We need a new pack, but sorting out the hype from the reality is the challenge. This put our mind to what features we DO NOT want our new pack to have.

Photo of "Another fine day" by Extra Medium

1. Weight
We often hike for five or more days. This means we have to carry our baseline equipment (tent, sleeping bag, clothes etc) plus a lot of food. Weight is a critical issue and your pack weight is one area were it's hidden weight can add significantly to the load you must carry. Remember, your pack stays the same weight (with your base gear) from the first till last day.

We don't want a heavy pack.

2. Lots of straps and clips
We want a streamlined pack, one that is simple and uncomplicated. We don't want a strap or clip for every function ever invented by some crazy pack designer. We don't want our pack catching on every bush or branch we walk past.
Photo by extraFunky

Unnecessary straps and clips add additional weight to your pack. A good, simple compression system should be all a pack requires. You can aways use temporary straps or clips on a trip when you require them.

3. Unnecessary Pockets
Robert Howells has written a feature in GORP on How to buy a backpack , he states our ideas very clearly:

Don't be seduced into thinking a flotilla of external pockets make for a better pack than a clean, nearly pocketless design. A multitude of compartments may help you stay organized, but they add weight and complexity. They also tempt you to add weight around the perimeter of your pack, instead of inside and close to the back where it is least likely to impede movement. I prefer a simple, single front pocket, big enough to hold a rain jacket, or a hinged 'shovel pocket' for carrying wet or bulky items. Add a couple of water bottle holsters and/or a sleeve inside to hold a hydration bladder, and you have all the extraneous compartments you really need.
Could not agree more, especially when hiking in the Australia bush, where the tracks may be narrow and you want to reduce the chance of being snagged on tree branches or scrub.

4. Little zippers

We don't want cheap, weak zips on our pack. We don't want tiny handles we struggle to hold with freezing hands or while we are wearing gloves. We don't want a zip that explodes under pressure the second or third time we try and close it.

Photo by fazen

Check the zips closely before you buy. Make sure they are heavy duty with good strong teeth and a big handle or strong tag to grab in icy weather.

5. Lightweight but non durable fabric

Hiking packs have to be tough. They are stuffed full of gear and placed under pressure from the inside out. They have to carry, at times, a lot of weight. They are thrown in planes, on the ground, rained and snowed on. They must be waterproof and strong. We don't want a pack that is manufactured from lightweight and non durable material.

Strong and tough is good.

So, there are our five "Must Not Have's" when purchasing a new pack.

Feel free to add a comment with your ideas or experiences with your hiking pack. We would love to read about them.

Update!! We have decided on our favourite hiking backpack for bushwalking in Australia. Check out our post "The Best Hiking Backpack"

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