Comment choisir un sac à dos de trekking ?

How to choose a trekking backpack: expert advice to find the right size, good adjustment and the right characteristics.

What is the best backpack for you? As there is no model suitable for everyone, it all depends on what you do, the moment and the place where you go, and the duration of your trip. Knowing these elements will help you determine the amount of things you need to transport. In addition, you will also need a well -suitable backpack and a suspension system that can endure your body and the weight you put in it.

Note that this article is mainly aimed at large backpacks for travel. For more information on small bags, read how to choose your everyday backpack.


Choose the right volume

There are a large number of backpacks on the market, ranging from small day bags to models designed for six months on the Appalachian path. Fortunately for your back, the backpacks have been smaller and smaller for 20 years. Nowadays, the tents are lighter, just like sleeping bags, stoves and other basic necessities.

The volume of a backpack corresponds to the interior space of the bag, measured in liters (or, in some cases, in cubic inches). Many large backpacks include the volume, in liters, in their name, such as the EMS Long Trail 70 or The North Face Terra 35.

What volume is best for you? It depends on the use you make of it and what you need to transport.

Volume (liters) by activities

  • Day hikes: 15 - 30L
  • School ; 30l
  • Camping (1a 2 nights): 45L
  • Weekend (2-3 nights): 55L
  • Extended trips (3+ nights): 55L+

Each of the capabilities appearing above covers a wide range. For example, a backpack for a night trip can require between 30 and 50 liters. It all depends if you are a minimalist or more traditional backpacker.


A minimalist or ultralight backpacker chooses the lightest and most compact equipment, and prefers to sacrifice things that others could consider necessities rather than carrying a big load on his back. For this backpacker, the sleeping bag is probably isolated with the highest goose down, and it will generally leave the bag of his business and the stakes of his tent at home. And, forget to take spare clothes.

Traditional hike

If you are a typical backpacker (like 90 % of us) who takes the normal quantity of equipment, choose a backpack The biggest caliber. In winter, you will need a much larger backpack to transport additional clothes, a warmer sleeping bag and a heavier and more solid tent. In addition, if you take your children, plan to transport part of their food and their equipment.

Travel time

The longer you stay outside, the more food and fuel you will need. If you get wet, you may also need spare clothes. Apart from that, you must always take a tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping mattress and a stove, regardless of the number of nights you spend camping.


Adapt the backpack: Determine the size of the torso

Whatever the backpack you choose, it must correspond to the length of your chest. To determine your size, go behind your neck, lean your head forward and find the C7 vertebra: it is the bone that comes out most on the top of your spine.

Then locate the iliac crest. It is the top of the hip tablet, on the sides of your hips. Finally, ask someone to take a fabric measurement ribbon to measure the distance between the C7 vertebra and the point of your back which is at the same level as the iliac crest of your hips. This distance corresponds to the length of your chest.

For the backpack to adapt properly, the distance between the top of the shoulder strap and the hip belt must take into account the length of your torso. Remember that the length of the torso is not equal to the height. A tall person can have a short chest, while a small person can have a relatively long chest. All backpacks of normal size must indicate the length of the torso in inches.

Note that some bags have an adjustable torso length, which means that the distance between the suspenders and the hip belt can be elongated or shortened, while others have a fixed length. Also note that some packs are sold in several sizes, which means that the length of the chest can vary from size to the next.

Choose the right suspension

You have determined the volume and size of the appropriate chest. The following question is: will you be comfortable to carry this weight? It depends on the suspension of the bag. If you wear 30 pounds with a little solid hip belt, all the weight will fall on your shoulders, and after a while, you will be wrong. To choose the right suspension of the bag, it is useful to understand the different elements.

Hip belt

When transporting heavy loads, the majority of the bag weight (up to 80 %) must be supported by the hip belt. Large backpacks designed for long -distance hikes use a highly padded and relatively rigid hip belt that wraps anatomically around your hips. The smaller bags, designed for lighter loads, are equipped with less padded hip belts. A day backpack designed for very light loads can only offer a strap belt without any padding. Climbers and skiers can opt for a minimum hip belt in order to increase their freedom of movement.

Hip belt adjustment

To carry the weight, the hip belt must be centered on the hip bone (and not on the size) and must be very tight. Once the belt is tight, there must be a space of 3 to 6 inches between the padded parts of the belt (above the buckle area). If the space is too large or too small, you will probably need another bag or another hip belt.

Hip belts molded

Osprey manufactures Bioform and ISoform tight hip belts that can be heated and then molded on your hips to create a perfect fit. Most Eastern Mountain Sports stores have an oven that can heat the hip belt. Even without an oven, your body heat will help you mold the belt over time.

Shoulder belts

The best suspenders are incorporated to marry the shape of your body. The padding does not need to be very thick, because most of the weight must be transferred to the hip belt, but it must be comfortable to wear, without friction or pinching.


Strap adjustment

While wearing the backpack, put yourself aside in front of a mirror. The suspenders must marry the top and back of your shoulders, leaving a minimum or zero air space between the bag and your body. At the front, the padding of the straps must end at around 5 to 6 cm under the arms. If the padding ends at the level or above the armpits, the straps are too short and you will need another bag or straps of different size.

Load lifting straps

These straps fix the upper edge of the backpack to the upper part of the straps. By adjusting them, you can tip the bag up your body or keep it away from it while keeping the bag in your hips. Looking at the side, you should see the load straps forming a 45 ° angle with the top of the bag. If the angle is very different, you may need to adjust the length of the torso or choose another bag.

Sternum strap

This adjustable strap is located just above the sternum and connects the two straps together to keep the bag in place.

Rear panel

This is the part of the package that crowds against your back. To prevent the content from stinging you, all the rear panels should be padded. A drawback, however, is that it makes your back sweat. To reduce this drawback, some manufacturers have planned ventilation channels to allow a certain air circulation. For even greater comfort, the panel must also be made of a porous air mesh foam.


Framework components

An internal reinforcement backpack ensures rigidity and helps transfer the load to the hips. In general, the frames consist of two aluminum or composite shrouds, also called flat bars, parallel to each other under the rear panel. In some cases, the two metal shrouds intersect in X, while others use thin metal stems to create a frame, either behind the rear panel, or along the perimeter of the bag.

Supervision sheet

A frame leaf is generally plastic and is behind the padded rear panel, so that it is not visible. It is often used in combination with a metal frame to give the pack vertical rigidity and torsion.

Choose the right suspension

The heavier the loading, the more significant suspension you need. Here is a quick guide.

Recommended suspension (depending on the weight of the package):

Up to 10 pounds = minimum suspension; No frame, no padded hip belt

10 to 20 pounds = light frame (stems), frame leaf, slightly padded hip belt

20 to 40 pounds = moderate frame (shrouds or stems), moderately padded hip belt

40+ Pounds = substantial frame (shrouds or stems), thick and padded hip belt

If a package does not fit properly, nothing else really counts. It's like a pair of boots: they can be the best ever worn, but they are not very useful to you if they do not suit you. Likewise, a backpack should be well suited to your body and allow you to wear the weight on your hips, not on your shoulders.

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Here are some tips to help you adapt to your backpack:

  • The length of the torso of your body should be understood in the chest fork of the bag.
  • The strap must be adapted to the back of your shoulders.
  • The straps of the load lift must detach from the bag at an angle of 45 °.
  • The padding of the shoulder should end 2 or 3 inches below your armpits.
  • The hip belt should cover the top of the hip bones (iliac crest).
  • The hip belt must support most of the weight of the bag.

Compartments and pockets

Backpacks offer a wide variety of storage, pockets and sleeve compartments. Some like a simple and refined bag with a single main compartment, while others prefer to have several places to store their phone, food, water bottle and other small objects.

Trekking backpack 50L

Main compartment

It is the largest space on the pack. This is where your tent, your food, your stove, your fuel and most of your belongings are stored. Most large backpacks allow you to access it from above. Certain travel bags, as well as many small day bags, are loading panels, allowing access by the front of the bag.

Sleeping bag compartment

The sleeping bag is usually stored in the bottom of the backpack. Many bags have a separate compartment of the sleeping bag.

Other compartments/pockets

Upper cover - This pocket also prevents the rain from entering the main compartment. Front pockets - Many bags have a large front pocket with a zipper. Others offer a "shovel" pocket, which allows you to store a large jacket. Lateral sleeves and pockets - combined with side compression straps, side sleeves can contain tent stakes. Larger sleeves can also contain bottles of water. Hip belt pockets - Practical to keep small essential objects at hand.

The way you position the different items inside the bag influences transport comfort. The heaviest items, such as water, food, stove and fuel, must be transported near the rear panel and vertically (or higher). The lightest articles can be transported far from the body.


Large backpacks should be high and narrow. This allows greater stability and greater freedom of movement.


Nylon and polyester are the most popular packaging materials. The higher the money, the more resistant (and heavy) fabric. The bottom of the packaging must be made of a high denier fabric to withstand abrasion.

travel backpack

Women's bags

In addition to being available in smaller torso sizes, women specific to women should have straps and hip belts designed to better adapt to the morphology of women.

External reinforcement packages

External frame packages have an easy metal frame to spot on the outside of the package. As they are wider and they move away from the body, they are less stable than internal frames. They are however easy to organize and, due to the space between your body and the bag, your back will not be as moist.

Compatibility with hydration

Some packs have an interior sleeve specially designed to contain a hydration bladder. A backpack compatible with hydration must also have a hydration orifice (a small integrated hole) to accommodate the rubber drink tube.

Compression straps

Compression straps are on the sides of the backpack. They tighten, drawing the contents of the bag towards the body for better balance and better stability.

Compatibility with skis and boards

Lateral compression straps of a backpack can often be used to transport skis. Just slide the skis inside the straps, then tie them. There are also a few bags that can transport a snowboard.

camping backpack

Non -slip necklace

This collar extends from the main compartment upwards, allowing you to store more equipment in the bag. Bags with an non-slip collar can often be filled beyond their indicated volume.

Attachment points

Elastic cords, attachment points, garlands and ice axes allow you to attach or fix additional clothes and equipment outside your bag. Remember that if you make your way through bushes and other obstacles, these attachment points may catch up with you.

Rain cover

Unless you go exclusively in the desert, buy a rain cover the size of your backpack. Due to all seams, the backpacks are not waterproof.


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