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The terms 'hiking bag' 'hiking pack' 'pack' 'backpack' and 'rucksack' are all alternative names for the same piece of equiptment (which this page deals with)
The main things to consider when packing a bag are:
Rucksack capacity is normally measured in litres, referring to the volume of space available inside the bag. An average sized expedition sized bag would be approximately 80 litres, whereas a day or overnight bag may be only 30 litres.
Many bags will give two numbers seperated by a plus sign. In this case, the first, and larger, number will refer to the capacity of the main compartment, and the lesser number will refer to the capacity of the pockets (or in some cases of a secondary detachable bag).
Hiking Bags come in many different styles, and it is important to use the right one for the context. The main types of bag are:
Trekking / Expedition
These bags tend to be top loading, with a fully adjustable back system.
Travel bags can be described as a cross between a suitcase and a trekking rucksack. However, the trekking back system is seen as a secondary function, and is therefore less adaptable the adjustable then a trekking bag.
Metal runners are positioned vertically along the length of the bag.
The majority of the weight of the bag should be placed through the hips. This saves pulling on the shoulders and the compression of the spine. It is important to do the hip belt on first and make sure that a proper fit is acquired.
Berghaus developed this recently though there are other imitations. The hip belt anchors to a central pivot allowing the sack to swing slightly as you walk.
Very comfortable fit, especially when walking fully loaded.
Bulky, added weight, of little use when the rucksack is not fully loaded, and although Berghaus will claim it is strong, there are concerns about how robust it is. Be particularly careful of cheaper imitations.