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Going camping is always exciting, and it gets doubled when it’s with family, right? If you’re embarking on a group trip, choosing the right family tent is an essential part of the trip.

The right-sized tent determines the comfort level throughout the camping trip for you and your family, but choosing the right size isn’t an easy task. To help with the process of how to choose a family tent, we’ve assembled this guide.

Tent Size – Why Is It So Important?

The tent’s size holds the utmost importance for your camping trip. Its size determines your trip’s comfort level, not just for you but for your family as well. No matter the family size it’s better to get a slightly bigger tent than you need. Otherwise, you and your family members will feel cramped inside throughout the trip.

If you don’t select the right-sized tent for the family camping trip, you’ll face discomfort while staying inside. Not only that, you won’t have enough room to move around and sleep comfortably.

That’s why it’s crucial to choose the right-sized family tent. However, as mentioned at the beginning it’s not as you might think. Without the right know-how, you might miss something that’ll ruin the whole trip.

Not to worry, our following segments will help determine the right-sized tent for your family trip.

Different Types Of Family Tents

As we mentioned earlier, there are quite a few types of tents but not all of them are well suited for your family and conditions.

In the following segment, we’ll have a brief discussion about a few types of family tents, which will help you have a better understanding of your needs.

Pop-Up Tents

A typical pop-up tent with external flexible poles

A typical pop-up tent with external flexible poles

The Pop-up tent is the most portable tent on our list. It’s built with light aluminum looped framing which is confined with a tension strap.

When you release the tension strap from the framing you’ll have your tent ready to set up. Once the tent is popped you need to locate the braided loops at the bottom of the tent.

They are the stakeout points of the tent. Just stake out the braided loops and you’ll have your tent ready for camping. It’ll take about 2 to 4 minutes to complete the setup.

Yes, it’s true that pop-up tents are easy and quick to set up. However, it has a significant drawback, which is that it can’t withstand bad weather conditions. Because of its light aluminum framing, it can’t withstand bad weather such as heavy rain, wind, and snowfall. So if you know it’s going to be bad weather where you’re going then the pop-up tent is probably not the one for you.

Instant Cabin Tents

A large 'instant cabin' style family tent

A large ‘instant cabin’ style family tent

Instant cabin tents are square or rectangular-shaped tents that provide a huge vertical space.

The instant cabin tents are structured with large aluminum pole framing, which makes them sturdy. That makes them withstand bad weather with ease.

It takes roughly 5 to 7 minutes to set up this type of tent for a single person. However, the larger cabin tents are harder to set up and require at least 2 people.

One of the major drawbacks of this type of tent is that it’s hard to carry because of the large size even after being folded in a box. So if you wish to use the instant cabin tent then you’ll need a much larger space inside your car.

Dome Tents

A typical dome tent for families

A typical dome tent for families

Dome Tents are the most popular tent, the reason being they’re widely available, unlike the other tents, also they’re very cost-effective.

That being said dome tents are designed with versatility in mind. That means these tents can easily withstand any kind of weather.

It’s because of its structure. Dome tents are made from a flexible interlocking frame that supports the main body of the frame and helps withstand bad weather conditions.

One thing that makes the dome tent different from the other two is that it’s a double-wall tent. This means it’s both properly ventilated and well protected at the same time.

The only drawback when you choose a dome family tent is the setup process, which is quite complex. One missed alignment will make your tent set up unsuccessful.

So if you are planning on using the dome tent for your family camping trip you should learn the setup process.

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Family Tent

As we mentioned earlier, determining the right size of your family tent depends on many structural factors as well as your personal situation.

The variety of tents available on the market can easily overwhelm you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. In this segment, we’ll review the factors you’ll need to consider while choosing a family tent for your next trip.

Tent’s Shape

The tent’s size and shape is the factor that will influence your comfort throughout the camping trip. Tents come in different shapes, and not every shape will provide the best support for you.

No matter the size of the tent, if the shape is not suited to you, it’ll cause hindrance to movement freedom and thus lead to discomfort.

So make sure you choose the right shape along with the size that’s suited to your needs and comfort for the tent. It’ll help ensure a successful trip for you and your family.

Living Space for a Family Tent

A family tent will offer plenty of space for the group

A family tent will offer plenty of space for the group

When you’re choosing a tent, you must consider the living space, and while considering the living space, you must include a few things. Such as:

  • Family members (How many members of your family you’re bringing along)
  • Trips duration (How many days are you going to stay for camping)
  • Whether you’re spending a lot of time inside the tent or not

According to these considerations, you must choose an ideal living space for your family tent. The rule of thumb is to plan for at least 20 square feet in the tent for each person. But if you plan to spend more leisure time in the tent, you will want to allow for even more space.

Entry Points

Along with shapes and sizes, there are different types of entry points that you can leave open or close as per requirements. You might be thinking that fewer entry points on the tent would be good for better protection of your tent. Well, just like living space, it depends on your needs.

Most tent doors are designed with nets that will keep the insects out and will let you enjoy the view without opening the whole door.

While choosing the entry points, you should also consider the number of members using the tent. For example, if you’re buying a large tent for 16 people, you should look for a tent with multiple entry points on each side.

Ventilation System

A proper ventilation system is necessary to allow for proper airflow inside the tent. Just having a few entry points can’t provide the required ventilation for you and your family.

So it’s a good idea to choose a tent with several windows. It will ensure the necessary influx of air, which will provide the proper ventilation system inside the tent.

Ease of Set Up

Setting up a tent can be easy or hard according to the methods. Some tents have an easy setup system that can be done by one person and some are so hard that it needs more than two people to set up properly.

So unless you want to go through a complex tent setup process you should choose an easy-to-set tent. It will not only save you a lot of hassle but also your valuable time. It’s also a good idea to run thru the setup process before your trip.

Organizational Features

Keeping your necessary items organized inside the tent is a hassle, especially if you have children.

You should know that there are tents that come with features that help you better organize your essential items and tools. If this is something you’re interested in, look out for tents that have organizational features like vestibules, gear lofts, and tent dividers. This will help keep the interior of your large family tent organized and make your camping experience more enjoyable.

Portability

It’s ideal for a tent to be portable, and as we all know, portability makes traveling much easier.

Before you buy a big family tent, you must consider its portability as well. Otherwise, you’ll face trouble and complexity while traveling.

Logically, a bigger tent takes a lot of space even after being folded in a box. So make sure you plan out enough space inside your vehicle for the large tent.

Rainfly

The rainfly is a water-resistant material that stops the rain or condensed water from coming inside the tent. If you’re looking to buy the cheapest possible family tent, the quality of materials may not be the best. If the rainfly material is of poor quality, it can lead to water condensing inside the coating, causing water to leak inside the tent.

On the flip side, buying a tent with a proper rainfly will help prevent the heavy rainwater from getting inside the tent, which is especially important if you’re faced with bad weather conditions. While buying your family tent make sure to check reviews that mention the rainfly.

Durability

Family tents need to be much more durable than your regular tents. The more people who will be using the tent, the more wear and tear will occur. The sturdiest tents are those built with aluminum framing. These are more resistant to damage.

Just so you know, aluminum frames bend if stressed, however, they can be easily repaired and you don’t need any special expertise for it either. So while buying a tent make sure you get the one with aluminum framing.

Final Considerations for Choosing a Family Tent

Not only is it important to choose the right-sized family tent, but there are also plenty of factors to consider before making your purchase. Luckily, now you can follow the above-mentioned factors and easily find the right tent for your family camping trip.

This selection of the top 8 backpacking books will make you want to travel the world, whether you’re just planning your next backpacking trip or an ambitious round-the-world adventure. These are the finest novels to read when traveling if you want to be inspired to go on amazing adventures and explore more. This collection is the best reading list of books for backpackers, with everything from romance to wanderlust novels.

The One Woman By Laura May

The One Woman - Backpacking ebook on Amazon

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The One Woman, one of Laura May’s books, is a great book to read while backpacking, because it tells the story across multiple countries like Israel, Spain, Ukraine, and the USA. Julie, a graphic artist, is the main heroine of Laura May’s first LGBTQ romance book. Regrettably, we know little about Julie’s life or her partnership with Mark. That is, until she meets Ann. Web developer Ann is a kind and outgoing person. It is obvious that Julie has affections for Ann. The spark is genuine as their history and present converge in Barcelona. Julie will have to choose between her love for Ann and her allegiance to Mark when catastrophe strikes. Will true love last the distance? Read this book by writer Laura May to find out.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the wild - one of the best backpacking ebooks

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A book about pushing one’s boundaries, cutting ties with society, and looking to nature and solitude for enlightenment. These are all the ingredients necessary to make a great book to read while backpacking.

The inquiry into the true tale of Chris McCandless, missing Alaskan wilderness hiker, whose SOS letter and skeletal remains were discovered months later, served as the inspiration for the book’s plot. One of the top books to read while backpacking.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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An unsuccessful novelist approaching his 50th birthday is Arthur Less. A nine-year ex-boyfriend who is engaged to another person sends him a wedding invitation in the mail. Both saying yes and saying no are out of the question for Arthur because doing so would be embarrassing and defeatist. So he starts to accept the invites to shoddy literary events that arrive on his desk from all over the world.

Arthur almost falls in love, almost dies, and travels from France to India, Germany to Japan, all the while putting distance between himself and the situation he doesn’t want to face. The book Less is about misunderstandings, accidents, and the depths of the human heart.

Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher

Meet me in Paradise - a great travel ebook

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Since her mother, a journalist, passed away while on the job, Marin has stayed within Tennessee, playing it safe. Sadie, her rambunctious younger sister, has traveled the world as a photographer while subsisting on art and adrenaline.

Marin reluctantly agrees to a sisters’ spa weekend on the tropical island of Saba after Sadie returns from a challenging job abroad and appears a little worse for wear. But when Sadie misses the flight, Marin’s luggage gets mixed up with another passenger’s, and a turbulence episode sends her crashing into the lap of Lucas Tsai, the attractive stranger who took her sister’s seat. As she and Lucas explore the island, Marin is forced to leave her comfort zone for the first time in a long time and discover what she’s been missing. Marin discovers more about herself, the man she’s falling for, and the agonizing reason she’s there with each breath-taking new encounter.

The Cloud Garden by Paul Winder and Tom Hart Dyke

The Cloud Garden ebook on Amazon

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The Darien Gap is a legendary location. It’s the lone rest stop along the Pan-American Highway, which connects Alaska with the southernmost point of South America. The gap is frequently portrayed as a nearly impenetrable area of marsh, rainforest, and cloud forest home to FARC guerillas. It is a well known no-go zone for world backpackers everywhere.

This interesting book relates the tale of two unusual travelers who band together and attempt an on-foot crossing from Panama to Colombia. They had endured a difficult journey and are just hours away from victory when they are taken hostage by FARC insurgents and held captive for nine months in the bush.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

People we meet on vacation - a great backpacking book

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Alex and Poppy don’t have much in common. He’s dressed in khakis, she’s a free spirit. He loves to stay home with a book, whereas she has an insatiable need to travel. They have been the best of friends ever since a tragic car share from college many years ago. While she lives in New York City and he in the little town for the majority of the year, they have spent one wonderful week of vacation every summer for the past ten years.

Up until they wrecked everything two years ago. Since then, they haven’t spoken.

Poppy is in a rut despite having everything she should want. She is certain that the heartbreaking, last trip she took with Alex was the last time she felt completely content. In order to make everything right, she resolves to persuade her best buddy that they should go on one more vacation together. Amazingly, he consents.

One River By Wade Davis

One River by Wade Davis a great backpacking book

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This is the epic tale of two generations of South African scientists who have traveled the world. Wade Davis, the protégé of Professor Richard Evan Schultes, and he set out on a trip to study natural history. Schultes left Harvard and spent twelve years living among the locals in the Amazon while charting unexplored rivers. You’ll definitely be on the edge of your seat as you read this tale of devastation, treachery, discovery, and adventure. One of the best non-fiction adventure novels available, you must read this book before backpacking anyplace in the Amazon (Peru, Colombia, or Brazil).

Wild By Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - one of the best books for backpackers

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A novel that became well-known as a result of the movie. But the book—trust me—is better. For those who are unaware of the storyline, Cheryl believed she had lost everything when she turned 22. Her family was dispersed, her mother had passed away, and her marriage had failed. She made the rash decision to trek alone on a quest over a thousand miles long because she thought she had nothing left to lose. While maintaining its style and suspense, this backpacking-themed book glistens with love and humor. Everything revolves around a journey that strengthened and healed a broken woman.


What books would you recommend reading while backpacking?

 

Pin The Best eBooks to Read While Backpacking

Pin The Best eBooks to Read While Backpacking

The only thing more impressive than brand-new backpacking equipment is gear that’s survived multiple seasons and has taken on a rugged, well-loved appearance. Dented coffee mugs, frayed backpack handles, and boots with mismatching laces tell a story of adventure and are direct evidence of a life spent in the backcountry.

Of course, if you properly care for your backpacking gear, it should last a long time. Backpacking equipment is built to last and should stand up to being dropped, stepped on, and thrown about.

However, that’s only true if you put some thought into the proper backpacking gear storage. Even the sturdiest tent can be undone by mildew and no amount of TLC will save a camping stove that’s been broken in storage. This means you need to learn how to properly care for your backpacking gear to ensure that it lasts a long time.

How to Maintain Your Backpack

Good backpacks are expensive and choosing the right backpack for you takes time and effort. This means that you have to give your backpack plenty of love between trips so that you don’t worry about its sturdiness while you’re on the trail.

Get yourself a rain-proof dry bag when you purchase your backpack. Rain-proof covers are cheap and easily stretch over your bag. By stopping moisture from getting in, you reduce the chances of mold forming later on.

After every trip, give your backpack a gentle scrub to remove any dirt and hang it to dry in a sunny, warm spot. Be sure to open all the pockets and remove any waste you find. When it comes to storage of your backpack, make sure it is in a well-ventilated, dry place to avoid any mold or damage by pests.

How to Take Care of Your Hiking Boots

Hiking boots may be the most important backpacking gear you own. Uncomfortable or misshapen boots can quickly lead to blisters and no amount of duct tape can save boots that are falling apart while you’re hiking.

You can prevent the worst boot mishaps by properly washing your shoes between every adventure. Remove any dirt that has accumulated on the soles and use a little disinfecting spray to kill off any bacteria that might be lurking in your insoles. Make sure you store your shoes in a dry space and give them a good look over before you lace them up.

It is worth bearing in mind that hiking boots can be repaired by a good cobbler. Shoe repair shops are ideal for things like resoling your boots, and many big-brands partner with particular repair shops that specialize in outdoor backpacking gear and shoes

Proper Care and Storage for Your Tent

Tents are infamous for mildew and mold. There’s simply nothing worse than getting your tent out before an adventure only to find a large patch of black goo has formed on the ground cover or fly. Fortunately, you can avoid the worst by storing your tent properly.

Proper backpacking tent storage and care start from the moment you start breaking down your camp. Shake out every layer of your tent to remove any dirt or waste that may have accumulated, and pack the tent away in its original bag.

When you get home, take the tent out and wash it down with soapy water. Next, hang the tent in a sunny spot — washing lines are ideal for this purpose. When you’re certain that the tent is bone dry, you can re-pack it into the bag.

Properly Store Your Sleeping Bag

Many of the rules that apply to your tent also apply to your sleeping bag. However, unless your bag is waterproof, it’s not a good idea to hose it down between every use.

Instead, invest in some disinfecting spray and hang the bag, fully unzipped, in direct sunlight. UV light from the sun can kill bacteria and stop an unwanted microbiome from forming in your sleeping bag.

As always, make sure you store the bag in its intended packaging and inspect it before you throw it in the trunk with the rest of your backpacking gear.

How to Store Your Camping Gear Between Trips

Camping gear like stoves, tin coffee cups, and plates make backpacking that much more convenient. There’s simply nothing better than firing up the cooker after a long hike and eating your fill of dehydrated hash browns and beans.

But how do you care for your backpacking gear between adventures? Just stuffing this all-important equipment into the nearest closet is not the answer. Instead, you should create a dedicated space to store all your campground gear.

Attics and basements make for ideal storage spots. But, if you’re working with limited space, you can always make extra space in small closets by decluttering and getting creative with clothes wracks, tack shelves, and compression bags.

When the time comes to store your camping gear put the hardiest equipment on the bottom and more fragile equipment on top — this is particularly important for gas canisters and stoves which can easily break.

Conclusion

A restful break in the woods can quickly turn into a wilderness nightmare if you don’t know how to properly care for your backpacking gear between trips. Before any trip, take a quick inventory of your equipment and test it to ensure that it is in full working order.

You should also create a dedicated storage space for all your outdoor backpacking gear. This space should be dry, secure, and well ventilated to stop critters and creepy-crawlies from ruining your next trip to the campground.

I’m sure we all have that person in our lives who is ready to hit the road now that travel is opening up again. Explore our list of travel gifts for the women in your life while they dream of future adventures.

Budget Travel Gifts for Women – Under $20

Any item from this list would make a great stand-alone gift or stocking stuffer. Or, why not create your own gift basket full of useful gadgets for the savvy traveler in your life?

1. Sleeping Bag Liner – One of our favorite travel gifts for women – washable, compact, and soft. We’ve loved having these in hostels and guest houses just to ensure hygienic peace of mind. Plus – these handy liners mean that your sleeping bag will stay clean since you can just remove the liner and throw it in the wash. This version is silky soft and stays durable after washing.

2. Portable Phone Tripod with Remote – Looking for that perfect travel gadget for the solo female traveler in your life? This tripod can be used as a mini selfie stick or to capture a solo shot in the midst of an awesome backdrop. Plus, this tripod will help them capture the perfect night shot, which requires that the camera is perfectly still. This version has adjustable legs plus a Bluetooth remote to snap pics from afar.

Backpacking gifts for solo travelers

3. Waterproof phone case – Great for the female traveler who enjoys the great outdoors– rain or shine.  Some waterproof cases are advanced enough that they allow you to take underwater pictures. This universal waterproof case fits all varieties of smartphones and keeps phones perfectly dry, even underwater.

4. Scarf with hidden zipper pocket – When we first learned about hidden pocket scarves, we were thrilled to finally leave the old-fashioned travel belt behind! A hidden pocket scarf is a stylish decoy and is even more subtle than the traditional travel belt. We love this one with two well-concealed pockets and a variety of colors and patterns to choose from.

5. Door Stop Security Alarm – Help ensure peace of mind with this doorstop alarm. If the door is opened unexpectedly, an alarm will sound. This one is an affordable and high-quality version.

6. Quick-dry Travel Towel – A quick-dry towel is an essential item on any woman’s travel packing list. Help get their travel kit started with this budget-friendly but high-quality option. This version includes 3 various sizes, perfect for camping, hiking, or long backpacking trips.
7. Portable Luggage Scale – On more than one occasion, we have been desperate to calculate our luggage weight before the airport to avoid excessive baggage fees. A portable luggage scale has solved our problems and prevented us from frantically reshuffling our luggage items in the airport departure hall! This version by etekcity has never failed us.

Travel Gifts for Women in the $20-$50 Range

8. Portable Power BankIt’s a backpacker’s worst nightmare: scrambling to find the hostel address while your phone’s battery slowly ticks lower and lower. An external power source is one of the most useful gadgets for female travel lovers. The Anker Power Core 10000 is our favorite in terms of power capacity and compact size.

9. Scratch Off World MapHelp the world traveler in your life display their past adventures and get inspiration for where to head next. We have had this one hanging in our living room for years and love taking it down to commemorate when we travel to new places.
Scratch-off map, a fun backpacker gift

10. Travel Size First Aid Kit – For minor injuries, a travel-sized first aid kit is a practical and savvy choice. This one has the most bang for your buck in terms of items, affordable price, and compact size

11. Sleep Eye MaskWe wouldn’t dream of boarding an international flight without our own personal sleep mask. It makes all the difference when it comes to avoiding jet lag and adjusting to new time zones. It blocks out light and helps us achieve deep sleep – even when our airplane seat neighbor insists on staying up all night watching movies. This version comfortably wraps around your head and is contoured to the face for a comfortable fit. 

12. Adjustable Travel PillowThe next generation of airplane pillows, this one is made with memory foam and can be molded into different shapes to be used for your neck, lumbar, or leg support. The cover is removable and washable, making it one of the best backpacking gifts.
Practical backpacking gift - a neck pillow for long journeys

13. Outdoor Bluetooth SpeakerWe love this version which has a 100-foot wireless range, and which produces crystal-clear stereo sound.

14. Books to inspire travel – While the COVID pandemic still lingers, help soothe their Wanderlust with a travel-themed book like National Geographic Destinations of a Lifetime, or 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. These also make gorgeous coffee table books to display their love for travel when the woman in your life is just relaxing at home.

15. Lifestraw Water Filterspractical for camping, hiking, or traveling in places without safe drinking water. The lifestraw is a light-weight but life-saving addition to any backpacking kit.
Lifestraw - a potentialls life-saving backpacker gift

High-End Travel Gifts for Women

16. Apple Air Podsdefinitely on the pricey side but one of the newest travel gadgets for women and digital nomads who don’t want to have to deal with a mess of cables on the road.

17. Wireless HotspotThis 4G/LTE portable wireless hotspot is perfect for the digital nomad, travel blogger, or offroad adventurer.

18. Kindle Paperwhite1 Kindle can replace over 10,000 books. Your backpacker can load up thousands of titles, from casual reads to pass the long journeys, or travel guides. When space is essential, a kindle can be one of the most valuable items in their pack. This listing on amazon comes with a stylish leather cover in a variety of colors.
Practical backpacking gift - an e-reader!

19. Noise-cancelling headphones – The plane, train, or bus journey is sometimes the only chance a hard-core backpacker has to relax and recharge while on the road. These high-quality noise-cancelling headphones come in handy on long journeys when you just want to zone out.

20. DSLR Camera – One of the best starter DSLR cameras, this Lumix version is the top-rated model among amateur photographers. It is compact and packs a punch in terms of features, which can help the backpacker in your life take their travel photos to the next level.

Ultimate backpacking gift - a DSLR camera

 

21. Beginner’s Travel Telescope – Or the best gift of all during quarantine, a telescope to explore the night sky. This highly recommended amateur star-gazer model might help soothe the earthly wanderlust by allowing your backpacker to explore the craters of the moon, the moons of Jupiter, or the rings of Saturn.

22. GoPro Camera – One of the ultimate travel gifts for women, a GoPro camera is still the preferred way to document adventures among the travel community. The durable and compact GoPro cameras produce high-quality images and videos that can capture intense activities from sky diving to deep-sea diving.

And the Best Gift Travel Gift for Women: The Gift of Future Travel!

23. Travel Gift Certificate: Give the gift of future travel to the backpacker in your life by giving them a gift card to use on Get Your Guide, a tour and activity company that offers 35,000+ different experiences around the globe. The travel gift card is valid for up to 3 years from the date of purchase and can be redeemed for any of the experiences on Get Your Guide’s site for any time in the future when travel and backpacking become possible again!

Have you Caught the Travel Bug Yet?

If just scanning this list has gotten you excited to get out there and travel yourself, browse our extensive list of country guides for ideas on where to go next. Or scan our blog for inspirational travel itineraries, budget tips, and more!

If you’re new to backpacking, it can be hard to know what gear you need for days on the trail. Backpacking and outdoor sports are more popular than ever, and you’ve probably seen a huge number of companies advertising their hiking backpacks and touting all the spectacular features they have. While these backpacks are great, and they are necessary for some things like backpacking, you won’t always need to choose best, shiniest product on the market.

In some cases, yes, you can use a regular backpack for backpacking. If you aren’t doing any serious trips, won’t be in poor weather conditions, or just need to carry some extra things on an impromptu trek in the woods, a regular backpack is more than sufficient. However, if you are going for multiple days, carrying a lot of weight, or in bad weather, you may be thinking about choosing from the different types of backpacking packs.

Like always, that answer will vary based on your plans, distance traveled, and needs on your trip. A good rule of thumb is that under 5 miles, your regular backpacks will work relatively well. Beyond that, you’ll begin to notice discomfort, and may start wishing for the features of a proper backpacking packs. 

How Do I Know If I Need a Backpacking Pack?

How Do I Know If I Need a Hiking Backpack?

You may want to consider upgrading from a regular backpack if you’re taking longer backpacking trips and need more capacity, or you’re noticing discomfort due to the style of backpack you have chosen. Most types of backpacking packs have extra padding, straps, and a more ergonomic construction compared to a backpack you may just use for school books.

This means you can carry your gear for longer periods, and higher amounts of weight will be more comfortable to carry. If you’re backpacking for more than a day, or your pack is getting to be on the heavier side, you should probably start looking into a more suitable option than a regular backpack.

What features should I look for in a backpacking pack?

The most imperative thing is to simply plan for the trip you are taking. If you’re on a day hike, you need a much different pack than you would for backpacking. If you’re carrying heavy weight or traveling great distances in a day, a school backpack will likely become uncomfortable or challenging to use effectively. If your regular backpack is lacking in technical features or isn’t cutting it on your longer hikes, look out for backpacks with features like those listed below:

  • Top loading design
  • Extra pockets
  • Additional padding
  • Waist and/or sternum straps
  • Adjustability 
  • Water-bladder pocket/Hydration reservoir
  • Sleeping bag stash
  • Attachment points and/or tool loops
  • Raincover
  • Ventilation features
  • Greater variability of sizes
  • More comfortable weight distribution
  • Removable daypack

I also recommend a waterproof option if you expect a trip in less than perfect conditions. One positive is that many backpacks made for general use have hiking features, and there’s a good chance you may have a North Face or Osprey bag you use already around the house. If that’s the case, you’ve already got a great tool that will hold up to a lot of your needs.

What different types of backpacking packs are there?

Generally, backpacking packs are defined by their size and style. The 3 different types of backpacking packs are the external frame, internal frame, and frameless backpacks. As far as size, they are measured in liters and you will often see different sizes listed as Daypacks, weekend backpacks, multi-day backpacks, and extended trip/expedition packs.

The different styles of the frame can be confusing, especially if you don’t have experience backpacking or rucking. Frameless backpacks are very light with flexible construction and are designed to carry light loads. A frameless backpacking pack lacks any rods or frame sheets to distribute weight.

Yes! You can use a regular backpack for hiking

They generally don’t hold more than 40 liters and are not meant to carry a heavy load. Internal frame backpacks are the most popular type of backpacking pack available, and feature a more rigid construction that distributes weight more, and keeps the backpacking pack from collapsing. They’re often made with a frame-sheet on the inside. External frame packs feature a frame often made of aluminum on the outside, with a harness attached to it.

They’re used for carrying very heavy loads. They are not as commonly available in modern times, but some companies still offer this style due to their highly adjustable style, and customizable nature.

Sizes are often defined as follows: daypacks (1 day or less) are what you use for very short adventures, and often hold under 30 liters. A weekend pack (1-3 days) measures about 30-50 liters. Multi-day backpacks (3-5 days) hold 50-80 liters, and extended trip backpacks (5+ days) hold 70+ liters.

Depending on your needs and what outdoor sport you perform, you obviously may need a larger or smaller pack. For instance, if you’re a climber and need to carry ropes, shoes, harnesses, protection, and so on, a bigger backpacking pack may be necessary.

Many people also prefer small packs in which they carry very little gear so they can travel faster. You can choose a smaller pack if you’re disciplined about what you pack and comfortable with a lack of supplies. The reverse also works, if you want a more comfortable experience and you’re alright with the extra weight. 

Each option has its advantages, but the average hiker will be perfectly fine with a mid-sized, internal frame backpack. This is what makes up the vast majority of the market, and most people won’t need anything beyond that. 

What brands to look at for a backpacking pack?

I can’t give you a fully comprehensive list of brands that will suit every need you may have backpacking, but generally, you’ll see excellent products in outdoor stores, or from the companies, you commonly associate with outdoor products. Ideally, I would recommend going to a local outdoor store and seeing what packs fit you comfortably and suit your needs, but researching products online is a great option. You should choose your backpack based on your specific needs.

With all the different types of backpacking packs, there are a massive number of brands, and I’m just going to list a few. If you choose a backpacking pack from a brand that isn’t listed, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad option. I still recommend looking for reviews online or checking forums for information. Another great method is to see what type of pack people in your area or sport use. A few brands to check out are below:

  • Osprey
  • REI
  • North Face
  • Patagonia
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear
  • Granite Gear
  • Mountainsmith
  • Deuter
  • Mystery Ranch
  • ULA Equipment

One thing you may have noticed is that many of these companies make “regular” backpacks that you may see daily. For me, seeing North Face, Osprey, Patagonia, and REI packs on a school campus was never uncommon. I even use a North Face backpack when going on short hikes or to carry gear when bouldering. My North Face pack is just a mid-sized backpack with hiking features, and it works great if I’m not on a longer trip.

A “regular” backpack from an outdoor gear company generally has several hiking features like waist straps, extra pockets, and so on. If you’re just going on some moderate hikes where you need to carry a bit of gear, you probably already have a backpack in this style that you can use. 

Should I choose an internal or external frame pack?

Generally, most hiking backpacks these days are internal frames, but there are still some models featuring an external frame. If you aren’t aware, external frame packs are a style of a backpack that features a frame on the outside of the pack, generally constructed out of aluminum or composite material.

There’s also often space on the frame above or below the pack itself so you can attach larger gear like backpacking tents or sleeping bags. They were once the standard for backpacking, and they’re generally meant to be used for heavier loads. You can sometimes find external frame packs for a cheaper price compared to internal frame packs, but since internal frames are so common now that isn’t as true as it once was. 

If you’re in the market for a hiking backpack and aren’t sure if you should get an external frame model, just consider what activities you will be performing, and how much weight you will carry. This type of backpacking pack is spectacular for long trips and heavy loads, but for an average hike, they are completely unnecessary.

There’s a good chance you’ve never even seen an external frame backpacking pack in a store. If you happen to try one and find it comfortable, there’s no problem using it, just keep in mind they’re generally for more serious adventures. Another thing to note, there are frameless backpacks as well, but they are generally designed for very light loads. 

Are there any alternatives to backpacking packs?

If you’re on a short trip but you don’t want to carry a traditional backpack, you may be wondering what alternatives are available. While backpacks are the best option for most scenarios, there are some alternatives. Shoulder/sling bags are a smaller option that can be easier to carry than a two-strap backpack, and they’re excellent if you don’t have much you want to carry.

Lumbar packs are another alternative. They sit in the lumbar area of the back and are smaller capacity options that may be more comfortable for you. Fanny packs are another good choice if you don’t have many pockets but you want to carry some essentials on the trail. Each of these options comes in several sizes from reputable outdoor companies, but it’s important to note that most of these products hold under 20 liters. 

Conclusion

It can be difficult to know if your backpack will work on the trail, or if you need to invest in a new type of backpacking pack to hike in. With outdoor sports being so popular, and more options available than ever, it may be tempting to choose a fancy hiking backpack for your next trek in the woods. Personally, I think that you’ll know when your pack isn’t working. For most of my days outside, a simple North Face backpack with fairly basic features is more than sufficient.

I can fit most of my hiking gear on or in it, and it’s comfortable for day hikes. Once you get into the range of multi-day trips, backpacking adventures, or have a lot of gear, it becomes apparent that a hiking backpack is necessary. Without the extra features, you’ll likely become uncomfortable, or leave out a necessary piece of gear. I always recommend further research, and it’s imperative to choose a backpack that is comfortable for you. If your bag isn’t comfortable, then there’s little chance you’re going to enjoy a great day in nature.