Extended-Trip Backpacks


For the past five years I lived out west, but I’m now in Indiana for a year. To make the best of my stay, I’m looking for new goals to tackle and have decided to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. What is the best backpack to take on that challenge? Charles South Bend, Indiana

My buddy and I are planning a mega-hike down one of Colorado’s mid-length trails during summer 2009. What type of preparation and equipment will we need for a 250-mile hike? What about an overnighter that I'll be doing later this summer? Jason Pace, Florida

I'm planning a summer ascent of Mount Shasta and want to know what you recommend for a backpack and sleeping bag. Is a zero-degree bag warm enough? I lean toward being a cold sleeper and prefer synthetic. I was told by the guide service to have a 4,500-cubic-inch pack. But I’m a petite woman, so isn't that a bit large? Julie Aliso Viejo, California

Do really large (6,000 to 7,000 cubic inch) external-fre backpacks still exist? If so, where can I find one? Lovett Statesboro, Georgia

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Your Gearness, I keep seeing reviews for sub-5,000 cubic inch packs. Some of us get to wander the wilderness packing extra for the family or scouts, and we need bigger packs. What can you recommend for comfortably carrying 40 to 60 pounds in our beautiful mountains? Andrew Lehi, Utah

I am the project officer in charge of the design, development, and procurement of all Individual Load Bearing Equipment for the United States Marine Corps. We’re currently performing market research on backpacks with approximately 2,500 cubic inches of capacity. Durability and comfort is top priority. I would like to purchase several different styles of backpacks to study the best ideas out there. Which manufacturers and packs should I consider? John Quantico, Virginia

I need a backpack to safely hold my camera, lenses, and other gear. My hard or soft camera cases are fine for short trips but not for real travel, as they attract the wrong attention. And a backpack would be a lot more convenient for hiking, long day trips, etc. Any thoughts? Tanya Chilliwack, British Columbia

What's the best alpine climbing pack out there for multi-day trips, carrying no more than 50 lbs? I'd like it to have good back ventilation and do double-duty: light-weight backpacking trips up to a week and winter mountaineering. Anything meet this criteria? Joseph Torrance, California

Which backpacks are big enough to hold a down sleeping bag (7X13” packed) and a three-season tent (7X23” packed), ong other travel supplies, but still small enough to carry on a plane? I’m going to Europe in the summer, and I've looked at the REI Tour Travel Pack and the North Face Terra 40 pack. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks. Chris Ledgewood, New Jersey

I’m walking the Cino de Santiago in April, but I can’t settle on a backpack that is light, holds around 35 pounds of gear, and will fight off the wet weather of Northern Spain. Any ideas? Jes Coquitl, British Columbia

What type and size backpack do you recommend for climbing Mount Rainier? Dan Ann Arbor, Michigan

I'm planning a one-year trip around the world and need a travel pack or backpack that is waterproof, durable, and carry-on size. It’d be nice not to look too much like a tourist. Any thoughts? Cliff Boston, Massachusetts

I’m planning a week-long trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness next spring and need a large (at least 5,000 cubic inches), durable backpack. What do you recommend? Tom Morganton, North Carolina

I need gear-cleaning advice. My Vasque Breeze XCR light hikers are caked in mud, and my North Face Fusion backpack has a moldy odor. How do I clean these items without ruining them? Lilly New Haven, Connecticut

What is the difference between a travel pack and a backpacking pack? I bought the Deuter Quantum 70+10 to take along on the Superior Trail next summer, and now I wonder if it was a good choice. Ross Winona, Minnesota

My 18-year-old niece is tackling a 30-day NOLS progr in the Wind River Range, and I’d like to help her find a pack. She’ll need 6,300 to 7,000 cubic inches of capacity and will be carrying some 60 pounds. Any suggestions? Ted Keene, New York

I need a backpack that’s appropriately sized for moderate four-day trips. Easy enough, right? The catch is that I need a little extra room for rock-climbing gear such as a 200-foot climbing rope, 60 feet of static line, and various carabiners and stoppers. What pack do you recommend? Ryan Baltimore, Maryland

My college-aged daughter will be studying abroad starting in January. The program requires that she bring everything she needs for the entire semester in a single non-wheeled backpack. She won't be camping out but doing homestays in Germany and Tanzania, with some travel in between. Deb Amherst, New Hampshire

What size pack would you recommend I use to do thru hike the Appalachian Trail? What brand would you recommend? Bob Page Salisbury, NC

I'm going on a two-month trip to Micronesia, where I'll be taking weeklong trips away from the main islands to some outer islands. I'm after a suitable daypack that can withstand the salt-spray environment. We don't need tents or sleeping bags as we will be in thatched huts, but still want ple storage for food, water, fishing gear, and the like. Christian Mishawaka, Indiana

Do you think The North Face Pivotal Suspension Pack is worth the extra weight? Ryan Leawood, Kansas