Hiking | Backpacking

Hiking or Backpacking

There tends to be some confusion around hiking and backpacking especially in Australia and selecting the correct backpack.

In Australia we tend to think of Backpacking as the international tourists tripping around with everything in a gigantic backpack for months on end and Hiking as everything from a day hike to a multi-day trip. And then you throw in “Trekking” and “Through-Hiking” just to confuse you even more.

The fact is that “Backpacking” is a term most used in North America and that is why some brands some as Osprey label their bags as either Backpacking bags or hiking backpacks. But to try and clear it up a little, at the bottom of this page is a definition of each one of the terms to help make you backpack search a bit easier.

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What is Hiking?

Hiking is the broad term used to refer to all forms of walking, whether it is a day hike through the rainforest or a multi-day hike.

What is Backpacking?

As we said before, “Backpacking” is more of a North American term which means a multi-day hiking with all your gear carried in the backpack. Really backpacking in North America is like camping for days or weeks at a time with all your gear on your back and over great distances… more like a Camino or the Appalachian Trail type of adventure.

What is Trekking?

Trekking is a step up, and is a long sometimes arduous trip, with either you are carrying all your gear or having someone else like a porter carrying your gear, think Kokoda in Papua New Guinea.

What is Through-Hiking or Thru-Hiking?

Through-hiking or Thru-hiking is a super long hike with all your gear carried in your backpack, like the Triple Crown in America or the Australian Alps Walking Track or the Bibbulman Track and can take months to complete.

As a rule, follow the below when looking for a Hiking Backpack based on size here in Australia – and it’s simple, only two categories.

Day Hiking Backpacks

Day Hike Backpacks are typically backpacks sized between 20L–45L. This is enough space to carry water, first aid, maybe a raincoat/jacket hats, sunscreen food and a few other bits and bobs. These types of backpacks can also be used on multi-day “Treks” where you might have a porter or a drop point where all your bulky gear is either carried by someone else or dropped at a pre-determined stopping point. Find Daypacks here.

Multi-Day Hiking Backpacks

Multi-Day Hiking Backpacks are anything sized over 45L and can go right up to 75L and are sometimes referred to as technical backpacks. These types of hiking backpacks contain compartments and external anchor points so all your gear can be carried on your back. These types of backpacks are the ones used for Backpacking (Camino/Appalachian Trail) and Trekking (Kokoda) if you are carrying your own gear as well as Thru-Hikes (Australian Alps Walking Track).

At the end of the day, you need to assess what activity you are doing and then start the search for a backpack that is suitable, and brands such as Osprey have a comprehensive range of backpacks for all activities and even have gender specific bags, to better accommodate the shape of the male or female body to try and give the best carrying experience possible.

Here at Bundy Outdoors we stock a wide range of Hiking or Backpacking backpacks for both men and women.


What to look for in a hiking backpack?

Once you have worked out which type of backpack you need, you’ll want to decide what features you want in the backpack. You may have to pay more for extra features, but when on a multi-day hike or trek, these extra features could mean the difference between a bad trip, a good trip, and an unbelievably comfortable trip. Ultralight backpacks with technical suspension, extra ventilation and other comfort features tend to cost more.