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March 2008 Backpacks Review: Start Smart

Reader’s Rule!
Hints, Tips, and Tricks straight from the Field

Bladder Control"
Attach a rubber band to your shoulder strap (the D-ring on the strap works best), then put your bladder hose through the loop. This keeps it within easy reach, and it stretches to reach your mouth."
Evan Farrel, Bradford Woods, PA

Fast Straps
"I always carry a half-dozen 6- to 8-inch mini-bungies. You can use them to lash on gear, pitch tarps, or hang water bags."
Name withheld, via email

Pack Last
"If you’re transitioning to ultralight backpacking, replace your pack last. A lightened load in a heavy pack is way better than a heavy load in an ultralight pack. Once your other gear is nailed, you’ll have a better idea how big your new pack needs to be."
Eric Welsh, Anderson, IN

Pad Your Padding
"The sheepskin seatbelt pads favored by taxi drivers make pack shoulder straps more comfortable. The wool breathes better than nylon, and they’re luxurious on long treks. Just cut one in half, and slide a section onto each strap."
Name withheld, via email

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