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Nitro-Pak Preparedness Center








Emergency Preparedness With Hiking Backpacks

With a disaster happening without warning it it beneficial to have hiking backpacks if you had to be on the run and needed to go quickly. With fuel shortage or road destruction from a current disaster, hiking backpacks might be the only way to get to where you need to go.

There are many different types of backpacks to choose from and buying the ones that are right for you and your family is something you want to consider before buying.  If you have small children and teenagers you might want to consider having different sizes handy so that a small person wouldn't have to carry a full size hiking back pack which he wouldn't be able to handle. A loaded backpack should not exceed 15% of the child’s body weight otherwise causes spinal problems to children. A good suggestion also would to be when acquiring backpacks for children make sure it has wide shoulder straps so that the weight of the backpack can be spread evenly. Of course having the right kind of supplies in them is also important. Lighter supplies, such as small first aid kits or dry pack food, could be carried in hiking backpacks that are smaller and made for younger children and heavier supplies, such as pans, tents, water or sleeping gear for the older ones and adults.  What also needs to be considered is you don't know how long you have to go for.  So being prepared with the most proper supplies in you backpacks, like food and water, would be crucial but at the same time not to have too much weight where you could easily get fatigued if not used to backpacking.  Also having your backpack ready to go is a good idea so that you aren't having to pack in the last minute when the emergency hits and you don't have time to pack.

The great benefit to using a hiking backpack compared maybe using handbags is that carrying heavy loads over long periods of time can be much easier carried on you shoulders instead of your hands.  Shoulder harness on backpacks should be designed to handle 30 to 40 percent of the weight. Also if you buy hiking backpacks that have padded hip belts, it will make your load even easier being that your hips are stronger than your shoulders.  Lot of the weight can be shifted to your hips where most the load rides and is your center of mass making it easier for carrying it.

Types of Backpacks

Here are a few different types of backpacks choose from  for different body sizes and uses.

Daypacks (15 - 35L)

Day packs have little or no internal from to support loads and your weight is carried only by the shoulder straps.  These are usually good for day hikes but if longer traveling distances are required they might not be the best to choose from.  Some of these have waist belts to keep you load centered and some padding on the back for comfort. But the waist belts on these aren't usually designed to help carry your load but more to center your load.

Alpine Packs (35 - 55L)

These medium-sized packs usually have some internal stiffeners and a more substantial hipbelt that bears some of the weight. They can carry heavier loads for intensive hiking or distant walking.

Backpacking Packs (55 - 75L)

These kind of packs are good for longer trips if maybe having to travel for a couple of days.  There frames are much more rigid and puts most the weight on your hips instead of your back.

Expedition Packs (75 - 100L)

These hiking back packs have a much larger carrying capacity and can carry extra gear that might be needed.  Adults would be better in using these back pack if wanting to take the heavier gear.  Most of these have the wider shoulder straps and padded hipbelt.

Travel Packs

Travel packs vary from soft-sided suitcase with shoulders straps to elaborate backcountry packs.  They have a flap that zips over the shoulder straps and waistbelt to reduce snagging.  They can be folded and save on space.  These might not be the best to use for emergency situations but would be better than nothing if this is all you have.

There are a couple of  different designed backpacks for loading your gear:

Panel-loading, which are also called front-loading packs allow easy access to your gear. Zippers on the panels can be weak points that let in rain and snow. Its better to have compression straps to hold the gear in which will take the pressure off the zippers.

Top-loading are probably better packs are stronger than panel-loaders backpacks. The only disadvantage is that when needing some gear at the bottom of your pack, you have to unload the whole pack to get to it.   But this design is quite durable, holds a lot of gear and are quite popular for hiking backcountry.

Construction of hiking backpacks is something to consider if wanting good quality ones that will last.  Make sure when choosing one that you get durable fabrics like packcloth or Cordura® which is good for high-wear areas on the packs. You want to make sure that your seams are sewed tightly.  If you can pull on the seams where the straps are sewn to the packs make sure you can't see the stitches otherwise it might tear when a load is straining on them.  Your inside seams of your pack should be covered by fabric so that it won't wear because of your inside supplies.  Also its nice to have a weather resistant urethane coatings on your backpacks to keep it from leaking, although its hard to keep any pack from leaking because of there seams.  Sometimes you can throw garbage bags over the top to keep some of the moister out.  Good bar-tacked stitching is also good to notice when choosing a hiking backpack which helps at stress points and load bearing surfaces.  Look for strong looking zippers that will last being that little cheep zippers can break and wear out quickly. Larger hiking backpacks are designed to hold a lot of weight have sophisticated suspension systems that are adjustable to your back.  These can be custom designed for your back and come in all different sizes.


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