Backpacker Radio #222 | How to Choose a Backpack for Thru-Hiking with Owen Eigenbrot

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are giving you an in depth run through on how to choose a backpack for thru-hiking. We are joined today by The Trek’s Managing Editor, serial thru-hiker, and certified gear nerd, Owen Eigenbrot. We walk you through all the features, terminology, material types, sizing tips, and more to give you a foundational knowledge on making an educated decision when purchasing a pack for the purpose of a long-distance backpacking trek. We then share some of our top tips and offer a few specific product recommendations at the end of the panel. Whether you’re just getting started in the world of backpacking, you’re looking to level up your gear for future trips, or you’re just curious to expand your knowledge in the world of backpacks, this podcast has got something for you.

We wrap the show with a shoutout to the class of 2023 AT thru-hikers, a new segment – poop news of the week, a miserably embarrassing stupid thing of the week, and a triple crown of our preferred caffeine sources.

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Panel with Owen Eigenbrot

Time stamps & Questions

00:03:38 – Reminder 1: Get an exclusive monthly episode by supporting us on Patreon!

00:05:20 – Reminder 2: We have new merch!

00:06:28 – Reminder 3: Submit your Pooping in the Woods story!

00:07:22 – Reminder 4: Apply to be a Trek blogger in 2024, take the AT survey if you hiked in 2023, and make sure to use our sponsor discount codes when buying gear!

00:08:47 – Introducing Owen

00:09:51 – Give us an overview of your backpacking experience

00:14:31 – Can you introduce the Eastern Continental Trail?

00:17:19 – Introducing the structure of today’s show

00:19:05 – Sizing a pack properly and how to measure your torso

00:25:00 – Adjustable versus fixed-size packs

00:26:55 – Sizing cottage gear packs versus larger manufacturers

00:28:52 – Volume/capacity

00:33:17 – Internal frame vs. external frame vs. frameless

00:37:23 – Men’s vs. women’s vs. unisex

00:40:12 – Traditional vs. ultralight

00:43:28 – Suspension

00:50:24 – Pockets

00:56:00 – Hip belt

01:00:23 – Extension collars

01:01:55 – Closure styles: roll-top vs. cinch cord vs. others

01:06:15 – Straps and buckles

01:10:45 – Price range

01:12:24 – Waterproofness

01:14:25 – Material options

01:24:35 – Bear canister compatibility

01:27:35 – Zach’s Pack Tip #1: Of the big 3, the weight of the backpack is the least important

01:28:47 – Chaunce’s Pack Tip #1: Consider the weight your pack is designed to carry

01:30:48 – Owen’s Pack Tip #1: Use a pack liner

01:34:09 – Zach’s Pack Tip #2: Zach’s overall pack recommendation

01:36:22 – Chaunce’s Pack Tip #2: Chaunce’s overall pack recommendation


Trek Propaganda: Congratulations to these 2023 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers: Part 4 by Kendra Slagter

Stupid Thing of the Week

Triple Crown of caffeine sources

5 Star Review

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