Chapter 1-6: Packs

Lets talk packs. As I mentioned previously in Chapter 1-2 Survival Kits, you should purchase the greatest quality pack that you can afford, period. (Note, if an expensive pack is out of the question, stay tuned because I will cover how to make budget packs out of old materials and PVC pipe in future posts.) Furthermore, for those interested in specialty bushcraft and survival skills, you should have different packs for different types of trips. Yes, there are different packs for different types of trips, let me explain.

Backpacks, hiking packs, and hunting packs (etc.) can all be broken into specific categories and sizes. The sizes generally vary by torso length. Note that there are specific packs for women and men, based on average sizing. And if you have the money, you can even get custom sizing and custom molding! The DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PACKS are as follows: Fanny, Minimalist, Weekend, Multi-Day, and Extended.

FANNY PACKS are for day use, or those interested in extreme survival skills. Despite the silly name, derived from region where the pack sits, they can carry substantial amount of gear. Fanny packs should be worn in addition to your knife, water bottle, and mess tin. (Note, I do not recommend bringing only a fanny pack with you into the wild without proper training and supervision.) Depending on the fanny, capacity ranges from 1-5 liters.

MINIMALIST and WEEKEND PACKS are designed to be lightweight and bulletproof. I call this particular type of pack ‘weekend packs’ because they are generally used for a period of 1 to 3 days. I call them ‘minimalist packs’, because they carry less gear and weight than the other types of packs, ranging from 20 to 50 liters. These are best used for short trips into the field, or for hikes. These packs will generally not have a built-in frame. This is the type of pack that I am currently using the most.

MULTI-DAY PACKS encompass a majority of the packs that you will find on the market in Outdoor Retailers. These packs will range in capacity from about 40 to 80 liters. These packs have a durable frame, which can be internal or external, and can vary from plastic to aluminum. With a multi-day pack, you can comfortably carry moderate to heavy loads. This type of pack is best used for trips lasting 3 to 7 days. In my opinion these are the most comfortable of all the packs.


My Multi-Day Pack.

EXTENDED PACKS are any pack that has a capacity greater than 80 liters. These packs are not for the faint of heart! They are specifically designed to carry heavy loads. These types are used more particularly in cold environments; where there is a greater need to have extra climate specific gear and clothing. Some of these packs have more space, zippers, gizmos and gadgets than you can imagine. This particular type of pack should only be used for trips lasting a week or more.

The advice that I would offer, on whichever bag you choose, is don’t be bogged down by all of the features of one pack or another. Get what suits you best! Just make sure it has everything you will need. Note that frames come in hard plastic (HDPE) and lightweight metals, usually Aluminum. They can have both top and panel loading features, and often have a specialized compartment in the lid. I would recommend one that has a hydration compartment or a sleeve for a fluid reservoir. I would also recommend a pack that has a suspended mesh back panel or foam channels for comfort and air passage. Also, be aware that price variances often come in the form of ‘classifications’ – whether or not the pack is lightweight or uber-super-duper light. Lastly, rain covers are a MUST.

3 thoughts on “Chapter 1-6: Packs

  1. geoffrey skoff

    I use a Alice. Looked at other packs but I don’t need a pack bright there not tough enough for real woody trails.the Alice can be a day pack or long haul.but modify the pack for today’s standards I use molle waist and shoulder
    Set get plus the stuff you can modify add ones pouches for cooking coffee booze so one.also I’ve been using one for over twenty plus year and there mans packs

  2. Rich

    I read your article and I agree my original pack was stolen I had a 4900 ci internal frame pack it was narrow and made for off trail packing today I was at REI and they have a nice Kelty for 200 dollars it is 80 ltrs which according to the in store employee is approximately the same or a little more I found 1 that is another brand name same price and then they JUMP up from there to well over 300 any suggestions where else to look because when I pack I go for 2 weeks to a month at a time using the larger pack do you have any suggestions 1 where else to shop and 2 how to attach a 2nd smaller pack for extras like a hydration pack and suck Thanks I look forward to your reply

    1. admin Post author

      It is nice that you went and got the professional advice from REI, they have a knowledgable staff and they can help you find exactly what pack fits you best! My advice is to use the knowledge of the store as a resource, and then after you know exactly the bag you want, purchase it from an online retailer. ( or etc.) I know that is not in the best interest of REI, but it will get you the best price. However, I must say that the REI name-brand equipment is pretty good, and generally cheaper than you would pay for any brand. And what makes it a viable option is their guarantee, if it has any issue whatsoever, even months and months later, you can go trade it in for a brand new bag. I personally would get the exact bag I wanted, even if it takes time to save up for it. Packs are like beds. They are worth every penny.

      Secondly: Almost every 80 liter pack now comes equipped with a location for a hydration sack and sucker. If it did not, I probably wouldn’t seriously consider buying it. But if I did, or if I wanted to attach a second sack, I would buy one of the protective ‘sleeves’ that have no additional pockets or harnesses, and slide that into the pack itself with the hose out the edge of the zipper, or tighten it into the external elastic strapping available on most packs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>