Choosing A Backpack
Taking a backpack with you bird watching is the most convenient way to carry around all your gear leaving your hands free to use your binoculars or take notes.
When choosing a backpack the first thing you will need to think about is the size. Backpacks range in size from under 15l to over 100l but it can be difficult to gauge the size of a backpack from its capacity as this measurement includes the total capacity of all the pockets. It is better to look at the actual measurement of the backpack to judge its size.
Make sure you choose a backpack that is big enough to carry all your bird watching equipment that you are able to close and secure it, but not so big that you can’t carry it or it has lots of empty safe.
If you don’t need to carry much when you’re out bird watching then you may prefer to take a daypack with you. Daypacks are smaller backpacks that are just big enough to hold some food, water and other essentials. Larger backpacks tend to be called rucksacks but the terminology is interchangeable.
It’s important to choose a backpack that is comfortable so you don’t put strain on your back. Most backpacks have adjustable back straps for easy fitting and larger backpacks will usually include chest straps and hip belts for additional support and to distribute their weight. If your backpack sits too low down even when the straps are tightened then it is too big for you. Choose straps that are fairly thick and padded so they do not dig in.
Also available are backpacks designed for women that have contouring for the female shape. The hip straps tend to sit a little higher and the back straps are not parallel. However, you do not need to choose one that is gender specific, just one that is comfortable.
Very large backpacks will often come with internal frames made of a lightweight material such as aluminium to help distribute the weight of the bag across your hips and help prevent you leaning forward when walking.
Always choose a backpack that is waterproof but if you know you are going to go bird watching regularly in very wet conditions choose one that comes with a rain cover to keep the contents of your backpack dry. A ventilated air mesh back panel will prevent you getting too sweaty when out and about.
A backpack with lots of pockets is useful for organizing stuff, and a variety of pockets and clips on the outside will mean you can keep the things you regularly need, such as a camera or water bottle, to hand.
If you plan to go bird watching at dusk or in the dark choose a backpack with reflective panels or panels, although be aware that you may startle birds with the light.
Some backpacks with top-loading access come with an extendable lid pocket which means you can easily increase the capacity of your backpack but to prevent overbalancing choose a backpack with compression side straps so you can pull in the contents.