How to choose the hiking backpack

Published by Elena Feresin on

Tips from Matteo, owner of Cityalps store in Udine


Now that our hiking outfit is complete, it’s time to choose the hiking backpack.

Tennis players have racquets, cyclists have bikes, hikers have backpacks as an extension of their bodies. When we are in the mountains, the backpack becomes our closet, our pantry, our home. This is why we must choose it well.

My knowledge was absolutely not enough to write an interesting and useful post. So I got help from Matteo, owner of Cityalps store in Udine, Italy, my hometown.
Matteo is a Salewa (and Dynafit) dealer and last year Stefano bought a hiking backpack from him.
I witnessed the sale fascinated and surprised. So, when I decided to talk about backpacks, I couldn’t help but thinking of Matteo and ask him for help.

So let’s address the most important question. How to choose the backpack?

The photos were taken inside Cityalps Store with Salewa backpacks but the rules generally apply to any brand.

Let’s begin!

What are the most important characteristics when choosing the backpack?

Before choosing the backpack it is important to understand what kind of hikes you want to do.
If you are a beginner, however, perhaps you don’t have a clear idea of what you like, so it is better to choose a backpack that is as versatile as possible.

The most important thing is the fit. We have to try on the backpacks and buy the one that feels good for you. In my shop, I usually let customers try the backpack on completely filled in. In this way, the fit is closer to reality. Comfort is essential.

Come scegliere lo zainoBackpacks with separate backs are very versatile. With these backpacks, the backpack bag is detached from the back. Usually, this effect is provided by a small net or patent of each company, as happens with Salewa. With this type of backrest, you may lose some weight balance but you can enjoy greater comfort and breathability.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in climbing, it’s better to choose contact backrests, even with high volumes.

Come scegliere lo zaino

But does the separate backrest keep us from sweating?

No. There is no backpack or item of clothing in general, that does not make you sweat. You can only choose more or less breathable fabrics.

What is the best size to start?

Again it depends a lot on the type of hikes or trekkings you want to do. I would recommend starting with a 25-liter backpack. It is the type of backpack that allows you to take a simple hike or trekking with any difference in height, or any duration. Both in summer and in winter.
Clearly, if you have passions such as photography, the volume should rise. Or, if you are a person who never eats in mountain huts you should consider the space for lunch and vice versa.

Come scegliere lo zainoEcco come abbiamo riempito lo zaino da 18 litri:

Come scegliere lo zaino

Are backpacks different for women?

Yes and no. The men’s models are unisex while the women’s models are for women only. Salewa distinguishes them with a W next to the model’s name. Many other companies make the same distinction.
The women’s models have thinner shoulder straps and different support on the breast and pelvis.

Come scegliere lo zaino

Which are the details one should always look for?

The choice of details is also based on the type of hiker you are. If you do or do not like high elevation gain, if you do long or short hikes, if before leaving you to check the weather well or even leave in uncertain weather. There is no backpack that fits everyone.
On a general level, an interesting detail is the rain cover. Some backpacks have an integrated waterproof bag that allows you to protect the backpack (and what is inside it) in case of rain.



There is no right or wrong backpack in general. There are right or wrong backpacks for us and for our needs.
This is why it is important to discuss your needs with the seller and get advice. 
We don’t all go to the mountains in the same way.

If you enjoyed this article, keep reading Matteo’s advice here.

Read previous articles here:


How to fill the hiking backpack

How to fill in the trekking backpack? What is the right technique to fit all the things inside? Is there any trick? What really can't miss? The answers are in…

How to choose the hiking backpack

When we are in the mountains, the backpack becomes our home. How to choose it best? To answer, I got help from Matteo, the owner of Cityalps store in Udine.

Elena Feresin


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