By definition, a hiking expedition generally means an excursion that lasts longer than one week. These types of trips can take months of planning and a hefty financial investment to ensure that the hiker is able to carry everything he/she needs to survive in the wilderness for a week or more, not to mention being prepared for many types of weather or any other kinds of danger on the trail. The foundation for an expedition trip is the expedition backpack. Expedition hikers all agree that their pack becomes their lifeblood and their best friend (their portable home, if you will) so choosing the right pack is crucial.
Size is the first quality to look at. For trips lasting longer than seven days, it’s recommended the internal capacity be around 5000 to 7000 cubic inches. Hikers need to be careful to utilize this space carefully; filling every inch with gear can lead to a pack that’s almost too heavy to carry. Compressible storage keeps a low profile and prevents weight from shifting uncomfortably.
External storage is essential as well. Due to the design of these expedition packs, getting snacks, water, or other necessary items from inside the pack is illogical; having storage on the outside to quickly retrieve necessary items during the hike prevents constant reorganizing of the internal contents. Hikers should look for a pack with plenty of expandable outer pockets and daisy chains.
Like most recreational gear, depending on cost, expedition packs can have a plethora of convenient options:
- Top and side access points. These are essential for quick access on the go.
- Convertible waist pack. Oftentimes, hikers want to go on short day hikes. Having a convertible pack cuts down on the amount of gear to carry.
- Separate sleeping bag compartments. This prevents compressing your sleeping back and damaging the materials that keep the bag warm.
- Separate tent storage. When it’s raining (or snowing!), a hiker is going to need quick access to their tent.
Rugged construction will ensure the pack can withstand scraping tree limbs, being bumped against rough rock outcroppings, and generally used and abused during a strenuous hiking trip. Steel frames, high quality waterproof materials, and top-of-the-line padding mean hikers will have a comfortable trip, free from blisters, pack repairs, and uneven weight bearing. As always, it’s best to try an expedition pack on to fit personal size preferences before purchase. In expedition trips, comfort is ALWAYS number one, especially when the pack becomes your traveling home.