• Southern Ontario Hiking Resources


Selecting a day pack

If you have enough pockets, you may not need a pack, but a pack is a great way to carry the rest of your walking essentials and non-essentials.  A good pack distributes the weight load evenly across your body at the center of mass - your hips.  Waistpacks and backpacks with belly straps are the best options for carrying more than a kilogram. Avoid purses or other options that put the load on just one shoulder, or you risk throwing off your body alignment and eventually developing problems and pain.


Backpack: A backpack gives you lots of storage space, but it is a trade-off for weight and comfort. Look for a pack that is the right size for your needs and has comfortable straps.  With larger packs, look for a belly strap to take the weight off your shoulders.  An external water bottle holder and small zippered compartments are good features.

  • Look for a day pack that is around 20 - 30 L (1200 - 1800 cubic inches). If you are backpacking, your backpack will need to be double this size or more.
  • Multiple pockets come in handy for storing sunglasses, keys, cameras, insect repellant etc separate from your food and water.
  • Padded shoulder straps are a big plus.
  • Packs with hip pads help take some of the pressure off the load on the back by transferring it to the hips.
  • Packs with an aluminum internal stay that keeps some space between you and the pack allowing for air circulation.
  • hydrationpak187Hydration packs are a convenient way to stay hydrated on the trail and are also popular alternatives for day hiking. These packs which can be worn on your back like a backpack. They can also be worn beneath a jacket during the wintertime and may hold up to 3 litres of cool water. The water is accessed via a special tube long enough to reach your mouth. At the end of the tube is a one-way valve that permits water flow via suction, while effectively keeping out dirt and preventing water spillage.
  • Some backpacks are designed specially for women to give them a better fit often with smaller size and lighter weight.

Waistpack: Some walkers can make do with a waistpack.  The variety of sizes and features is huge.  Visit your local outdoors store or sporting goods store to see the selection.  Larger variations may have a built-in water pouch or water bottle holder and straps to strap your jacket onto when you have warmed up.

See our Tutorials on backpacks for more detailed information.


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