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Don’t get overwhelmed by the thousands of options that are out there, or the fact that every blogger or Youtuber seems to name a different pack as the best one. Just find one that fits you, fits your needs, and fits your budget. You don’t have to spend a fortune, and until you know just how much you're going to actually get out and go hiking I don’t recommend spending a fortune. You can get a nice quality, entry-level pack from a reputable company for around $100-150 and you can get one that will work just fine for less than that. Just make sure you get a pack that is designed for backpacking and if you are ordering online check the reviews.

The 3 basic styles of pack are external frame, internal frame, and frameless. If you're reading, this you probably want an internal frame pack. They are the most commonly used packs these days. In my opinion and experience, Kelty makes some very nice packs that can usually be found at a reasonable price. So does Deuter, Gregory, Teton Sports (Amazon), and Osprey. Osprey is probably the most expensive in the group, but they are still significantly cheaper than most of the ultralight cottage companies out there. If you are just getting started, I’d recommend a 65L pack, because chances are, if you're just getting started you probably don’t have the smallest, lightest gear, so you will need the extra space and weight capacity. I use a Mountainsmith Zerk 40L, which is a roll-top frameless pack for everything from day hikes to 1-2 night outings if I’m just hauling my own gear. At the other end of the spectrum, I have a Kelty Redcloud 110L that I use for multi-night trips with the whole family or in cold weather which requires extra gear.


Angela started with a High Sierra 55L for our first few outings. It worked ok, but with our larger, bulkier gear, it was pretty packed out. She purchased a Women's Kelty Coyote 65l for our trip to the Porkies in 2020 and loved it. It was much more fitted for her smaller frame and had some external pockets for quick access to smaller items. There are some great options for kids out there as well. Osprey and Deuter have packs for kids that come in fun, bright colors as well. What your kids will be able to carry will, of course, vary greatly on age/size/strength..ect. Our kids (14 & almost 9) currently carry a Teton Sports Talus 2700 44L and a Deuter Fox 30L.

Keep in mind if you have a regular camping sleeping bag (not designed for backpacking, not compressible…and probably heavy) it is going to take up a lot of space in your pack. Before I got a down sleeping bag, I would actually put my sleeping bag in a compression sack, then wrap it in a contractor bag and just strap it to the bottom of my pack. I did this because it took up so much room in my pack and definitely did not fit in the “sleeping bag compartment” of my pack. 

If you are just getting started and are unsure of what size pack to get I’d recommend getting all the other basics and then borrow a pack from a friend to see how it all fits in there. If it fits well, go with the same size if it doesn’t fit, size up or down accordingly.


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