Once confined to hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, backpacks have become mainstream during recent years, carried by everyone from kindergarten students to busy moms and business execs, all of whom have one need in common: convenient, portable storage for their gear.
Offering a convenient location to store pens, pencils, books and notebooks, backpacks have become a ubiquitous accessory for school kids of all ages, and have even gained a foothold among adults who use them to tote everything from laptops to diapers.
Backpack manufacturers have responded by offering a wide variety of styles and sizes to suit pretty much anyone's needs, and it's a good idea to spend some time reviewing those options before making a final purchase decision. Here are a few important backpack features to consider before making your choice:
Backpacks come in a variety of sizes, from small packs that are light enough for a small child to carry comfortably, to large packs better suited for high school or college kids, as well as adults looking for a convenient piece of carry-on luggage or overnight bag. Smaller packs, like the Olympia 16-inch Campus Backpack, are ideal for lightweight loads, and can do double-duty as a purse or small briefcase. Men and women with larger loads to carry might prefer the roomy interior of Ogio's Metro or Epic Midnight Limited Edition Backpacks, or the Jumbo Leather Backpack.
Originally introduced as a portable carry-on bag, rolling backpacks have gained in popularity with many students and inner-city commuters, who appreciate the option of toting large amounts of books and other items without having to bear the weight. Rolling backpacks like the Verucci Flight Carry-on/ Rolling Pink Backpack and the J World 19.5-inch Touches Blue Rolling Backpack/ Laptop Sleeve offer stylish prints and patterns, while the Verucci Brown Flight Carry-on Rolling Backpack is better suited for more serious business events. Students and adults alike will appreciate the sporty styles of CalPak's Night Vision 18-inch Rolling Backpack and CalPak G-roller Backpack.
Just like a purse or briefcase, your backpack can reflect your unique style and personality, from fun and fashionable to studious and businesslike. Fun fabric designs, like those offered on CalPak 'S Curve' 18-inch Lightweight Backpack or J World's 19.5-inch Check Red Rolling Backpack with Laptop Sleeve are lighthearted options for the young-at-heart. While more reserved designs include the Amerileather Urban Buckle-Flap Backpack and the Leather Three-way Backpack, whose unique design allows you to carry it on your back, over your shoulder, or by a hand-held strap.
While early multi-use backpacks had one main storage area with a single pocket on the outside, today's backpacks offer a variety of storage areas specifically designed for a wide variety of purposes and items, including electronic devices like laptops and portable music players. To make the best choice for your needs, consider carefully what you'll be using the backpack for, as well as the items you'll need to carry in it.
Carrying a laptop? The Trailmaker Laptop Backpack offers both an internal, fully padded laptop sleeve as well as a cell phone pocket conveniently located on the shoulder strap. For really heavy-duty use, consider the Wenger Swiss Gear Austin Laptop Backpack, by the makers of the original Swiss Army Knife, which offers a pocket for your iPod or MP3 player, as well as a headset port. Also offering an earphone port, the CalPak Apez 18-inch Multi-pocket Backpack features multiple pockets of varying sizes, as well as self-repairing zippers to make sure all your contents are kept safe and secure.
Unlike their more urban and suburban counterparts, hiking backpacks are designed for the serious outdoor enthusiast who wants to hit the trail for a few days, carrying clothing, food, a tent and other supplies. Backpacks became frequent among travelers during the 1960s, when hitchhikers and other itinerant travelers recognized their versatility and convenience. Those heavy packs, with cumbersome external frames, have been replaced today by lightweight, internal frame versions that offer far greater durability than their predecessors. Designed to support heavier loads, these packs help distribute the weight evenly along your back, reducing muscle strain that can result from uneven loads.
Packs like the Teton Sports Explorer 4000 Internal Frame Backpack feature padded waist belts and padded lumbar area to help reduce strain from prolonged wear. Many backpacks, like the High Peak Kathmandu 70 + 10 Internal Frame Pack, even feature built-in hydration systems that allow you easy and convenient access to drinking water while you're hiking, without having to stop and remove your pack.
The lightweight designs and multi-featured practicality of today's backpacks make them a smart choice for people of all ages and walks of life. The wide selection of modern and traditional materials, coupled with colorful, unique designs means that there is a backpack that's just right for your needs.
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