How to choose a backpack for El Camino de Santiago

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If you planing on doing el Camino, you should know that one detail can make all the difference and that detail can be choosing the right backpack for you. Here are a few tips on how to make a good choice.

The first thing to keep in mind when choosing a backpack is that once full, it’s weight should not exceed more than 7% of your bodyweight and should be around 7 or 8 kilos depending on the time of year you’re going to walk, since for example, in winter you always need to bring equipment to combat the cold, but in summer, if the weather is good, you’ll have the option of doing laundry every day and can carry a lot less weight in clothing.

Before choosing a backpack, it’s important to think about what kind of pilgrim you will be, since some people will fair better with less gear than others. If you are the type of person who packs a lot and brings things for “what if” moments, you will need a more spacious backpack. On the other hand, if you are a minimalist, you can opt for a smaller pack. Remember that the volume of backpacks is typically measured in liters.

tamanos

Besides volume, the length of the backpack is a very important factor to consider. The backpack’s length should correspond to the length of your torso so that all the points of contact and all the straps are at the correct placement and height. Above all, the shoulder and waist straps, since the latter is where most of the backpack’s weight should be supported. The shoulder straps are also very important because the keep the backpack tight to your body in order to keep you balanced and to help ensure that your center of balance is as close as possible to your height so that you have more stability. It’s very useful, and increases comfort, if there is a small strap that connects the two shoulder straps so that they don’t move off of your shoulders, creating back pain and the sensation that you’re carrying more weight than you actually are.

Waist size is also important. Most of the weight of the backpack should be supported by your hops, so you want to ensure that the hip strap fits snugly.

puntos_de_sujecion

A note for women: while you do not necessarily have to chose a backpack designed specifically for women, it may be a good idea. And, although there may be fewer choices in terms of models, these backpacks typically have shorter torso dimensions and hip and shoulder straps that conform better to a woman’s body. These may be small details, but they can make you much more comfortable on long journeys.

An important characteristic for a good backbaco, other than being comfortable and ergonomic, is that it is rigid enough. Inside most, if not all backpacks of a certain capacity, there rods or metal plates like a skeleton that they don’t crumple under the weight of your equipment and pull on the straps cuasing slipping and discomfort while you walk. These rods or plates are found in the part of the backpack that comes in contact with your back, but are always covered with thick padding. It is important that this padding, and placement of the metal elements is comfortable.

An important characteristic for a good backpack, other than being comfortable and ergonomic, is that it is rigid enough. Inside most, if not all backpacks of a certain capacity, there rods or metal plates like a skeleton that they don’t crumple under the weight of your equipment and pull on the straps cuasing slipping and discomfort while you walk. These rods or plates are found in the part of the backpack that comes in contact with your back, but are always covered with thick padding. It is important that this padding, and placement of the metal elements is comfortable.

ACOLCHADO + VARILLAS

Ventilation is something else to keep in mind. Good ventilation will help you stay comfortable during your trip by helping to prevent your back from getting too sweaty. This becomes especially important if you’re going to do el Camino during hot summer months. The element that contributes to good ventilation is that padding that we were just talking about. The different channels and patterns that they have allow air to circulate and sweat to evaporate.

ventilacion

If we’re talking about compartments, it’s normal for there to be a large main section and smaller exterior pockets where smaller objects can be kept. It is helpful if there are different ways to access this main compartment in order to access the levels of equipment that we saw in the post where we explain how to pack your backpack. With these extra accesses and pockets, you won’t have to constantly unpack your bag every time you need something.

COMPARTIMENTOS

Extra things to look for are places where things can be fastened with carabiners or cords and straps that can be used to attach extra gear like a mat or sleeping bag.

Some backpacks have an extra space for a Camelback and places where you can thread the hose through the backpack. This is a good way to stay hydrated without having to keep a water bottle or canteen in your hand, but if you do go for this option, make sure you’re careful maintaining and cleaning your Camleback.

Traslation: Carolyn Montagnolo

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About Author

Isaac Martínez

Soy diseñador multimedia, hiker experimentado y arquitecto de Rutas en Vojo. Un día descubrí el Camino de Santiago y ya no me lo pude sacar de la cabeza. Me gustaría compartir con todos vosotros la experiencia y conocimientos que he podido adquirir a lo largo de cientos de kilómetros recorridios por esta y otras rutas, y dar a conocer consejos, historias y curiosidades que te ayuden a disfrutar mucho más tu Camino.

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