Over its 80 years of existence, Columbia has made a solid reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality outdoor apparel. Among numerous products, their backpacks have come into attention because of their fantastic balance between price and quality, making them very popular for everyday use, hiking, and traveling alike.
Columbia offers a large number of backpack models, so it’s fairly easy to find a model for any type of use. A couple of things that all their backpacks have in common are excellent comfort and durability you can count on. Depending on the model, you’ll also get features like a water-resistant shell, organizer compartments, paddings, additional straps and many more.
In this article, we created a buying guide to discuss the differences in design and features, so you can find the best Columbia backpack a bit easier. The products we selected for our list range from backpacks for school, hiking, traveling, to even carrying baby gear, so you’ll certainly find something you like.
How To Choose A Columbia Backpack – Buying Guide
Even though quality and comfort are the common ground for all Columbia backpacks, there are several other factors that need to be considered when buying a backpack. Things like size, weight, type of backpack, and the additional features all play a role in finding the perfect backpack. Take a look.
Which backpack size you should get depends mostly on your needs and your body frame. Many of the best Columbia backpacks featured here are in fact daypacks, meaning they come in one universal size. Luckily, all of them have adjustable shoulder straps, so you can find the most stable and comfortable position on your back.
If you’re shopping for a multi-day pack that comes in different sizes, then factors like volume and your torso size come into play. In terms of volume, backpacks range from under 40 liters (daypacks) to over 95 liters (expedition packs). Depending on how long your trip is going to be, you should choose the size that has enough room for your gear.
In addition, you need to measure your torso length and buy a size with the appropriate length. A smaller backpack may be uncomfortable, while a larger backpack will be unstable when loaded and not easy to walk with. In case you need some help with this, read our article on how to size and fit a backpack.
Columbia offers plenty of options when it comes to size, and you’ll even be able to find Columbia kids backpacks for your little ones. We just want to point out that some of the larger models won’t be able to go as carry-on luggage on airplanes, so keep that in mind when planning.
The weight of an empty backpack mostly depends on the materials used for the body of the bag, as well as the frame (if it has one). Most of the backpacks we featured weigh somewhere between one and two pounds, which should be light enough for anyone to carry.
Larger capacity backpacks go well beyond two pounds, and in that case, you should make sure they come with sternum and waist straps to help you distribute weight better. Columbia backpacks are lightweight and tough at the same time, making them a good choice when planning a backpacking trip.
While it’s obviously influenced by size and weight, comfort is also determined by the backpack design. Given that you have the right size with proper weight distribution, things like a padded back panel and padded shoulder straps can significantly reduce the strain on your body.
Also, the best Columbia hiking backpacks have mesh panels and allow better air circulation so you don’t get sweaty easily. Furthermore, additional straps and belts found on some models make carrying a loaded backpack much easier.
To get the most out of your backpack, you need to think about how and where you’re going to use it. Depending on the needs, there are three main categories to choose from – day packs, multi-day packs and expedition packs. A day pack is a lightweight backpack that can carry a day’s worth of supplies. You can use it for school, hikes, bike rides, and it feels really comfy. It has enough room for a water bottle, some backpacking food, a camera, and some spare clothing.
A multi-day pack gives you more versatility but also has a larger weight and volume. In addition to the mentioned things, you can pack a smaller backpacking tent, a sleeping pad, more clothing and food, and perhaps some backpacking cookware. Finally, expedition backpacks are huge and allow you to pack even more gear for trips that last five or more days.
A good backpack needs to be made from high-quality materials to withstand the wear and tear it goes through every day. Columbia uses different materials in making their backpacks, usually polyester, nylon, canvas, and similar materials. All of them have some advantages.
Polyester is lightweight, durable, and, most importantly, inexpensive, which is why it’s a good choice for kid’s backpacks. If you want extra strength, look for backpacks that use nylon in their design. It’s tough and offers some water-resistance too. Canvas is used to make extra durable and waterproof backpacks, but it’s also pretty heavy. Some product lines like the Columbia titanium backpacks use blends of very sophisticated materials to give you top-level performance.
One of the reasons we appreciate Columbia is that you can count on the quality of their products. However, there are still differences among them. The quality and durability of your backpack are determined not just by the materials used, but also additional features such as zippers, buckles, straps, and stitching.
The backpack needs to fully protect the content inside, especially electronics. All of the products featured in our Columbia backpack reviews are reliable and tested by numerous customers. However, if you’re going backpacking, it might be a good idea to bring a repair kit in case a stitch gets loose and you need to do a quick fix.
When discussing types, the main question is whether the backpack has a frame or not. Since they are not designed for very heavy loads, most daypacks come without a frame inside. However, larger hiking and travel backpacks come with an internal or external frame as a reinforcement.
An internal frame is hidden in the backpack, making it more compact (most newer backpacks have this type). It creates a good fit, it’s easy to move, and you have good weight distribution. An external frame means the backpack has external bars that give it support. This is good for heavier loads and is very comfortable because it doesn’t sit directly against your back.
Even though many of these features are not necessary, they will make using the backpack more convenient. Some Columbia models come with double zippers that can be locked for security. Also, it’s always a plus when a backpack comes with multiple compartments and pockets for easier organization. Things like the mentioned chest strap and hip belt make carrying significantly easier.
We think it’s a better solution if the backpack is front-loaded (instead of through the top) because it gives you easier access to your gear. Furthermore, some have special additions like a dedicated space for a hydration bladder, pockets for keeping bottles warm, and even clips for different backpack attachments.
Q: Why Choose Columbia Backpacks?
Q: What Are The Benefits Of Using A Columbia Backpack?
Q: How To Clean And Care For A Columbia Backpack?
If machine washed, it’s recommended to wash it in cold water on a gentle cycle. If hand-washed, use a sponge and a mild detergent to scrub them. Afterward, always leave to air dry completely before packing (if you want to avoid nasty smells). For more detailed instructions, read our article on how to clean a backpack.
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A Columbia backpack is an easy way of bringing your stuff anywhere – on a commute, a multi-day hiking trip, or even when traveling abroad. The contents will be protected, and the design of their backpacks will reduce the strain on your back. We hope our guide has helped you find a model that suits your activity, and that your hikes and travels will be much easier from now on.
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