Are you into hiking? Here’s how to get your backpack!

How do you choose a good backpack?

Choosing the right backpack: military, tactical, mountain, heavy-duty

Hi, Dan again. The news is, I started doing lots of mountain hiking with a group of friends and I love it! I will tell you today how to choose a proper backpack, since I had this sort of problem and know how I got out of it. It can be challenging, really.

For those who have hiked in the 70s-80s, you probably still remember the backpacks we had, mostly military. They looked like Christmas trees, with all sorts of objects hanging on them: pots, axe, sleeping bag, plastic bags. Of course, these objects clung to all the branches on the way.

But years have passed and technology has evolved so that for a not-so-large of an investment, you can get a good backpack to last you 20 years.

The backpack is an extremely important piece of mountain equipment and, because you will spend much time in its company, it is essential to know some details.

The shape of the backpack: I recommend you to purchase a backpack with an internal frame because it fit the back well and offers stability and a better balance than the backpacks with an external frame or no frame at all. Other accessories that a backpack should have are hip belt, shoulder straps for shoulders, and sternum strap.

The hip belt should be padded and designed such that 80% of the weight of your rucksack to be supported by the hips. The remaining 20% of the weight of your rucksack must be handled by the shoulders, so make sure you get a backpack that’s equipped with shoulder straps that are well padded, lest you suffer discomfort while walking. A military framed backpack could be the right choice, here’s an explanation why: http://www.mountaintroops.us/history_rucksack.html

The sternum strap extends over the chest and shoulder straps, so it is important to have it.uphill

It is also advisable to choose a backpack that has a rigid plastic plate at the back. This plate, in addition to the fact that it transfers the weight to the hip belt, also has the role to protect your back so as not to be encumbered by some of the objects inside the rucksack.

The rucksack’s capacity: Don’t buy a backpack bigger than you need it to be. If you plan to do trekking without camping (day hikes), you need a backpack with a volume of 30-40 litres. If you want to go hiking for a few days, you need a backpack with a capacity of 50-80 litres, in which you can fit the camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, mat etc).

 The exact size of the pack: Size is very important for maintaining balance on the trail. A backpack can be extra small, small, medium (regular), and large, and the size corresponds to the length of the torso.

torso-measuringMeasuring your torso. The first step is to measure the length of your back (ask a friend to help you), starting from the C7 vertebra (a prominent vertebra, which lies at the base of the neck) until the upper line of the hips (put both hands over your hips and hands in the upper line of the hips).

Here’s a picture to help.

 The backpack material: I recommend the Cordura nylon material, it’s still the best on the market, and if the manufacturers are using it increasingly less, that is due to the high cost. They still use it a lot in heavy-duty backpacks, see this page: http://www.rangermade.us/best-tactical-backpack/ . Make sure however that the backpack is made of a material resistant to water (or waterproof). If not, you will need to buy a rain fly. These come in different sizes, so choose the appropriate one for your backpack.

Subdivision: Get a backpack that has at least 2 compartments (with easy access from the outside) and side pockets, and pockets on the lid. It’s of great help to have easy access to the important stuff.

Buy it from any sports equipment store, or military tactical surplus store. My advice is that you should not buy your backpack online, but instead go personally to test it. Or, if buying online, read reviews written by people who actually own the item.

 

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Give me a decent camera and I’ll give you great pictures

great-camera-picturesSo I’m on the lookout for a good camera, preferably compact and not big and bulky.  Compact digital cameras have surely been and will be the reason why many people fall in love with photography. Not just those who begin to draw their first steps in photography acquire compact cameras, but also advanced users and even professionals have among their equipment good compact camera. Remember that the camera is only a means, and that what really matters is the photographer.

One compact camera that I found great for my purposes is the little and (to me at least) glorious Fujifilm X20. There was one article in particular that convinced me to buy this particular camera – namely, the Fujifilm X20 review at http://maxcnash.com/fujifilm-x20-camera-review/

Before you buy a compact camera – tips I found to work

The moment of purchasing a new camera brings to mind the following questions:

  • Why would you like a new compact camera? Are you sure you aren’t one of the many victims of big brand marketing to keep you constantly spending heaps of money by acquiring a new product that does not provide any significant improvement compared to the model you already own?
  • What use do you want to give your new camera? At this point, it is important to think what are the purposes you need the camera for. Then focus on the features that will support your goals, and label other functions as of second importance.
  • Beware of scams: know that stores and manufacturers have an incredible ability to make us believe things that are not entirely certain. For this reason, I recommend that before going to the store, read the following article: 5 deceptive forms of selling digital photo cameras.

One tip from that article is this: beware of the so called “daily deals”.
Who does not know any of these online stores where each day brings an item at a discounted price, and where you only have that day to acquire it at a “bargain” price? Well, most of these stores’ daily bargains are honest. What is certain is that some directly have decided to make use of the lie as a trade promotion tool: put a $100 on the camera when that is not true, or not quite.

Example: you display a camera lowered to $500 and its standard price in the store is, supposedly, of $600. You see it and say “man, 100 turkeys that I save and I invite the missus out to dinner at the Palace, she’s going to freak out because I’ll also give her the camera to see”. Yes. Really? Look at it in another store, to see the same camera in a normal situation. Look it up in yet another store, another, and another. Compare.

In the end, many times, you realize that the camera never ever cost that $600. Its standard price, with no bargain, was just $500. Or maybe $508 and the savings is only $8 (farewell dinner at the Palace… well, Burger King Yes perhaps).

I will apply these tips to my current camera purchasing venture, and will keep you guys updated on how it went.

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