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The more the merrier: another backpack just makes sense

Mailbox Peak

The first step to finding the optimal backpack is understanding that when it comes to gearing up, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, just like anything else of importance, you’ll want to ask yourself what you want and what tool will help you achieve your purpose. Your main considerations will change depending on whether you are hiking, camping, or backpacking. And your decision will revolve around storage capacity, fit and comfort, and custom features. The reality is that you’ll want a different backpack for different occasions.

Storage capacity

If you’re hiking, either for the day or overnight, you will likely be focused on speed and comfort. You won’t need much storage space, because supplies will be limited. In this case, a backpack with a 40-60 liter capacity, weighing one to two pounds empty, will probably suit your needs.

If you’re camping in an area near parking, you may not need a pack, except to help you organize your supplies, or you might be able to get away with a 20-30 liter day pack or less.

On the other hand, if you’re backpacking or thru hiking for an extended period of time, you will probably need as much storage as possible. Thru hiking backpacks generally have the most storage capacity and may fit as much as 60-80 liters of supplies and materials and weigh two pounds or more. Our River Country Products backpack rides the line between the overnight pack and the thru hiking pack with a 65-liter storage capacity. Life in a Pack sells a 70-liter pack with additional versatility.

Fit and comfort

Any pack you carry should fit you snugly, but not too tight, and should have the straps necessary to carry the load. This even applies to the tiniest of waist packs. Although strap number, padding, and width may not be critical considerations for day hiking or camping near your car, they are very important for multi-day and thru hiking. On such hikes, your goal is to not notice the pack on your back. Hips belts and durable materials go from being optional with the smaller packs to becoming a necessity with the larger ones. Internal frames are another consideration, but the added comfort of an internal frame can be offset by limited adjustability.

Custom features

The best packs have fully adjustable straps, pockets for water bottles, and hydration bladder compatibility. They usually also have gear loops on the outside of the backpack. Most will also have either an attached or detachable rain cover. Other considerations might include a spot for a recharging station, fully waterproof construction, and optional duffel hooks.

At the end of the day, if you are going to find the optimal backpack, you’ll probably need more than one. A 65-liter pack will be very versatile for both medium and long trips, but may be more than you need if you’re a peak bagger with a short list.

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Product review: amazing sleeping bag combo!

River Country Products’ best-selling sleeping bag is a three-season bag designed for use in spring, summer, and fall. It is usually sold with a pad and pillow as part of a combo set. Although it will protect you in temperatures between 20-30°F (-6 to -1°C), it’s more suited to temperatures between 40-50°F (4 to 10°C).

Because it’s a three-season bag, it’s lighter and more compact and versatile than a winter bag. This makes it easier to carry on backpacking trips or other outdoor adventures. It also has an adjustable hoods and a draft collars to help you stay warm in cooler temperatures. Weighing either 2 lbs 4 oz or 2 lbs 14 oz, depending on size, it is fairly light.

It’s important to emphasize that temperature ratings are just a guide, so actual comfort levels can vary depending several factors. These include your general core body temperature, sleepwear, and insulation provided by the sleeping pad underneath the bag. In other words, you may want to overprepare for cold weather the first few times you use it until you know your comfort level.

Our sleeping bag combo is unique, because it comes with an inflatable pad designed specifically for the bag. The pad has the same shape as the bag, but it is smaller, so it can either fit inside the bag or be strapped to the outside. This means that you won’t have to worry about sliding off the pad during the night like you may with traditional pads.

Another unique feature of this combo is that it comes with a pillow that also acts as a pump for the pad. The pillow allows you to pump up the pad with cooler, typically less humid air. One benefit of the pillow is that it keeps the pad free from internal condensation. Another benefit is that the cooler air temperature will make it less likely to deflate.

What do you think? Do you prefer a three-season bag? Or a winter bag?

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Hammock + Tree Straps = The Perfect Pair

hammock tree straps backpacking

Although a seemingly small change, the addition of two 10 foot tree straps to our backpacking hammock makes a huge difference in set up time and convenience. These hammock tree straps are simple to use and are now included with every hammock.

The tree straps are rated at 400lbs (though the hammock holds just 320lbs), and are made from a durable stretch resistant polyester. The stitching is also reinforced making the straps stronger. Another great feature are the 15 connection points for your hammock. These small loops make it easy to adjust the tightness of your hammock setup without retying a knot or removing the straps.

Finally they weigh just 5.2oz each and pack down to a small size, perfect for taking backpacking, camping, or in your backyard. The orange stitching also makes them more visible in the evening and at night.

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RCP Backpacking Pack

65 liter backpacking backpack

We recently added a backpacking pack to our ever growing collection of backpacking gear, and we are very happy with it. The backpack is large, 65 liters, and quite comfortable with lots of features.

The River Country Products backpack has an easily adjustable torso height so it fits a large variety of body shapes and sizes. We also really like the comfortable split waist strap and removable rain fly, which is super convenient if you ever get trapped in an unexpected rainstorm.

Take a look at our backpack for yourself. And let us know what you think in the comments below!