There are many things to consider when choosing a pack. With the wide assortment of options it can seem confusing and complicated to select the right pack for you. When embarking on a hike in Colorado’s high country and especially southwest Colorado’s rugged San Juan Mountains it is critical that you are prepared and choosing the right pack is part of that preparation.

One of the first things to consider is the type of hiking you currently do or plan to do. Do you trek through Colorado’s spectacular backcountry or stroll along a well-paved trail within a Colorado mountain towns city limits? It’s not uncommon for hikers to have several different packs depending upon how long the hike is, how strenuous and what season you normally hike in. There are the fanny pack types that go around your waist and hold one or two water bottles and may have a small pouch for a power bar or other snack. These are nice if you only plan to hike short distances or are into trail running. Camelbacks are synonymous with hydration packs and contain a water bladder system with an attached hose and mouthpiece that runs from the water container up over your shoulder for easy drinking access. There are many manufacturers now that make a camelback or hydration type of pack. Daypacks are small backpacks made for day hiking that carry your essentials including a water bladder system or multiple water bottles.

The primary concern should be whether or not the pack will handle adequate hydration for you during your hike. If you plan to hike anything over a couple of miles, you should strongly consider a hydration pack. Most hikes highlighted on Colorado Hikers Guide would need the advantage a hydration pack offers. If you plan to hike during the summer months, a hydration pack is best. The great thing about a hydration packs is, in addition to water, they can hold most if not all of what you need to day hike and they make it very convenient to drink while hiking which keeps you hydrated and feeling good.

Hiking the trails of southwest Colorado during the summer months can mean warm, sunny days and having enough water with you is essential Choose a pack that is going to feel comfortable on your back by selecting a size that is appropriate for you. Sometimes you may be wearing this pack all day and if it doesn’t fit you well it can turn a wonderful hiking experience into an uncomfortably long day. Check with a reputable hiking gear supplier and have them help you with correct sizing. Wear the pack around the store for a few minutes to feel how the pack fits and test to see how easy the straps are to adjust. Can you reach around to retrieve items from side pockets with ease? You don’t want to stop and take off your pack every time you need something. If it has a water bladder system, does the hose reach over your shoulder and to your mouth easily without being so long that it gets in the way while hiking. Once the bladder is filled with water, does the pack have enough room for your rain gear, hat, maps, food, sunscreen, compass and any other essentials you will bring along on your hike?

Check the quality of the pack by inspecting the strap system. Are they easy to adjust? Do they adjust enough to fit you? Are they sewn well? Do the buckles and tension locks work? Are the rest of the seams on the pack sewn well? Is the pack waterproof? What kind of workmanship guarantee does the manufacturer or gear store offer? Osprey packs located in southwest Colorado have high quality packs of all sizes and are a good option when shopping around for daypacks. Most good hiking gear stores will carry Osprey.

Chances are you will be hiking with this pack for many years to come and it will become a very crucial part of your hiking adventures so choose well and don’t skimp.