The backpack should fit well, so finding a sport shop to measure you for the right size is the first step, particularly if you want an internal frame pack.
The gear you need to take should fit in the pack, so you need to have an idea of what you have (or what you will need to get) in the way of gear, how much it weighs, how much space it takes, etc. You need to find out if you need a bear canister in the hiking destinations you plan to head out into, and take that into consideration as well as some canisters don't fit well in some models of backpack.
I like the idea of hemp due to it being a strong material, comfortable* and environmentally sustainable. *I've come to the conclusion that a strong cloth like hemp would feel and "breathe" better then some vinyl/plastic based material.
I've found one hemp pack so far by doing a search for "hemp backpack for backpacking".
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I was joking before. I love the textile qualities of hemp.
I've never seen any that was well suited for a lightweight backpack though. It's heavy and subject to getting wet. I suppose you could spray it with a silicon to waterproof it some.
I have friends that have Kelty packs they still use that are around 25 years old (and they are still under warranty), so given the long life of a quality pack I wouldn't worry too much about sustainability or environmental impact.
Weight, comfort, size and durability are important features in a pack.
I'd have to recommend getting a pack made with materials that are designed specifically for the purpose. Hemp is a great material, but not the best for this purpose.
Still, I'd like to see the pack you were looking at. Post a link if you can find it again.
After writing the above I looked at this one and, while not 100% hemp, it does look like a nice pack, so I maybe completely wrong.
Might not want to let it get too close to the fire.
Sorry, but I figured somebody was going to say it, and I thought I'd end the suspense.
Welcome to the forums, Erica. I've often found it ironic that we go out into the wild world using a lot of equipment that has its roots in hugely destructive extraction and manufacturing processes. I've comforted myself by saying that, without them, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the un-impacted areas and, by the mere act of visiting, help ensure their preservation. Also, the alternatives (hacking down small trees and pine boughs to make a lean-to, cooking over wood fires, ditching around canvas tents, and carrying wooden pack frames) are, in their own ways, also destructive - just in a different way. (Take a look at some of the turn-of-the-century photos of Teddy Roosevelt and his friends "roughing it.") I guess it will just have to remain one of those Catch-22 situations.
Good luck in finding a natural pack that works well for you - let us know how it comes out.
billstephenson, Yeah that was the one I was looking at.
I am now thinking I shouldn't get a pack online without trying it on so I might be back with the conventional packs/ what I can buy locally/semi locally. I will look around to see if any stores at least semi locally have the hemp pack in stock so I can try it on.
I went to EMS store today, a very helpful employee started giving me advice and telling me how to fit packs. I've become convinced that I should get a gender specific pack for a better fit. They showed me a pack Called Northpeak 50 from their last years model packs and I could get this pack for $80 with their current 20 percent discount.
I was tempted to get it on the spot since it seemed like a good deal and there was only one left...but I decided I really need to do more research and at least check what they go for online.
You're right - you may find that a gender-specific pack will fit you better than a "unisex" pack designed for both genders. (Then again, you may not.)
Just remember: the gender of the pack doesn't always have to be the same as your gender.
There should be some women in the forums who find that a man's pack fits them better, and some men who find that a woman's pack fits them better. Pack builders will shoot for a "typical" man or woman, and build some features (angle of pack to hipbelt, shape and padding of hip belt and shoulder straps, etc.) to fit that typical build. However, if you happen to be built differently (say, a man with narrow shoulders, or a woman with narrow hips) you may find that the other gender's pack fits you better. And, since packs have moved somewhat away from stereotypical "ladies" and "mens" colors, there's no real stigma or "girly-man/manly-girl" issues to deal with.
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