Why I moved from a 45L to 70L as my main hiking pack

I am fascinated by all of the different choices of gear on the market and I enjoy reading reviews and learning about gear. I can talk for hours with employees at outdoors stores. I want to know about the latest and greatest market trends, the tried and true products that have stood the test of time, and personal favorite treasures that may not get a lot of attention.

I like that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the gear they use and don’t use. There are thousands of different combinations of gear that a pack can be filled with, from essentials to luxuries. Each hiker will interpret essentials and luxuries differently and what is important to me may not be important to you.

I have two hiking backpacks, a 45L and 70L. I started with a 45L pack and it has served me quite well but for my Appalachian Trail section hike I need something larger. I realized overall that a larger pack suits me better.

I like everything that I am carrying to have a home inside the pack or inside a zippered pocket. With the exception of clothes that are drying and dirty camp shoes, the only thing I ideally want on the outside of my pack is my fishing rod. I don’t want anything to be permanently planned outside of the pack.

When I see clothing and gear shoved into every nook and cranny on the outside of a pack, I am reminded of the cupboards that we all have where you need to quickly close the door and hope nothing falls out. That is how my 45L pack was beginning to look and it gave me a twitch.

I think I might be a little type-A when it comes to my hiking pack. I like all my gear to be contained and protected from the elements and environment.

I have plenty of room left in my 70L pack and I could add more items if I want. It’s easier to take away the extra space with compression straps than it is to add more room. I could have chose a 60L pack but here are the reasons why I chose a 70L instead:

  • Family hiking! As a family we use a 4 person tent and when I am with just my daughter, we use a 2 person tent. My daughter carries some essential gear but mainly carries childhood essentials like a stuffed animal, pencil crayons, cards, and a journal plus a few snacks and water. I want hiking to be enjoyable for her and to not feel like a grueling task. The remainder of the gear is split between my husband and I or in some cases, just me. A 45L doesn’t cut it for family hiking. A 60L would even be a stretch, especially when carrying food and water for 2-3 people.
  • Multi-season hiking and camping! My 45L pack is not large enough carry the warmer clothes and gear that I need.
  • Luxuries and comfort! I like my pillow that is filled with both foam and air. It is larger than most hiking pillows but I sleep quite well with it and I do not want to mess with a good thing. My other luxuries are a book, journal, a couple colorful pens, and I am debating on bringing a digital camera with me on the AT.

I imagine I will learn a lot about my gear while using it on the AT, day after day, after day, after day… I look forward to really putting it all through the ringer and seeing how each piece performs when put through its toughest test yet. Can’t wait to write a review about my gear when I am done.

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