When hiking or traveling in warm or hot conditions wearing a backpack or when carrying a heavy load, it is inevitable that your back is going to perspire. Sweating in itself isn’t a bad thing. When perspiration evaporates, it leaves you dry, cool and comfortable. It only becomes a bother when the heat and sweat have no way to escape so they build up leaving you miserable with a hot, sweaty back and a soggy shirt.
To avoid this kind of scenario that can ruin an adventure, you need one of the best ventilated backpacks featuring a suspended back panel to promote evaporative cooling and allow airflow. It is such a delightful feeling when a cool breeze hits your back in the midst of the heat. The very best accomplish this level of breathability without being hard to pack or causing problems with balance. To help you find a comfortable backpack that allows your back to breath and keeps you drier, cooler, and more comfortable on the trail or road, here are our top picks of the best vented backpacks followed by a guide with what to keep in mind when choosing one.
External frame backpacks are the 'old school' type of backpacks with a frame (usually metal tubing) on the outside of the pack. Although they are no longer popular, they do provide very good ventilation.
Wearing a moisture-wicking synthetic shirt or a merino wool shirt under your backpack can help deal with sweat. Merino wool retains its insulating properties even when wet with sweat and does not stink, but can be fairly expensive.
Salt from your sweat and the oils from your skin can damage backpacks over time. It is a good idea to gently clean your shoulder straps, hipbelt and backpack with water and a soft brush or sponge following the manufacturers instructions.
How To Choose A Ventilated Backpack – Buying Guide
Ventilation is one of the most important features a backpack should have in order to be comfortable and enable great experiences outdoors but it isn’t the only essential feature the best ventilated backpacks should have. There are other factors you should pay attention to when shopping for a breathable backpack to ensure you get the best vented backpack that will fulfill your packing needs and personal preferences, fit well and be comfortable to wear. Here is what to consider:
When it comes to backpacks, proper fit trumps everything else. It doesn’t matter how excellently vented a backpack is. If it is poor fitting or doesn’t distribute the load well, it won’t be comfortable and won’t offer a good experience. To determine what size to order for a perfect fit and proper balance of the load on your back, you will need two measurements: your torso length and hips circumference. You then need to check each pack’s size guide and choose a vented pack whose specifications match your measurements.
To determine your back torso length, have a friend measure the distance along your spine starting from the base of your neck to the top of your hip bones. Pack lengths range from extra small to large. Extra small suits up to 15 ½” torso length, small suits up to 16″ to 17½”, medium/regular is for 18″ to 19½” torsos while a large/tall suits torsos 20″ and taller. If you’re in between sizes and can’t find an exact fit, choose one with an adjustable suspension system.
Most of the pack’s weight (at least 80%) should lie on your hips. This ensures the pack weight is comfortable to bear and you don’t end up with an aching back and shoulders. The hip belt should be centered on the crest of your hips and have a snug fit. To determine the size of hip belt you need, measure the circumference over your hip bones where a pack’s hip belt rests. Hip belt sizes range from the mid-20 inches to the mid-40 inches to suit different hip sizes. Some hip belts are adjustable and some packs accommodate interchangeable hip belts.
Related Post: How To Measure Torso
The weight of the backpack when empty also matters. Ventilated backpacks vary in weight depending on their capacity, the materials they are made of and the features they have. A lightweight pack is more comfortable to carry while a heavier backpack adds to the weight on your back.
However, backpack weight is a relative factor and the lightest backpack isn’t necessarily the best. A lightweight backpack is desirable but this advantage shouldn’t be at the expense of quality, durability or important features such as padding on the straps and hip belt or heavy-duty zippers and buckles.
A pack should also have adequate weight and strength to hold the weight of the load it is designed for. Ultralight packs suit minimalist and ultralight backpackers while heavier packs are necessary when packing more weight. Backpacks weighing 2-3 lb are designed to comfortably handle 15-35 pounds of gear, 3-5 lb packs to carry 30-50 pounds of gear while 5+ lb heavy backpacks have the strength to haul 40-70 pounds loads.
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The breathable backpack you choose should have enough gear capacity to meet your packing needs. The duration of your trips and the amount of gear you need to pack will dictate how many liters backpack capacity you will need. The longer the expedition, the higher the volume you will need to accommodate all the gear you will need.
Daypacks are smaller packs with a volume of 15-35 liters, which is sufficient for day long or half day trips. Weekend or short trips that last 1-3 nights call for 30-50 liters. 3 to 5-day trips require 50 to 70 liters in volume. Extended expeditions that go on for weeks or longer require a minimum of 70 liters to hold all the food, clothes and other essentials. If you want a large and versatile backpack so you’re not struggling to fit all your essentials and so that it will suit many kinds of trips, a 60L capacity is a sweet spot.
One thing to keep in mind about ventilated backpacks is that they aren’t designed to carry heavy loads. They are most comfortable with a lightweight setup. This is because vented packs are made to lie slightly separated from the wearer’s back, making heavier loads, which require the pack to rest on one’s back, harder to carry. Ventilated designs also reduce the storage capacity of the main compartment.
Another feature to check is that the number and configuration of both interior and exterior pockets meet your needs and preferences. This will enable strategic packing of items you reach for frequently and give you a way to air out wet gear. Open pockets are great for storing gear you want frequent and fast access to so you can access them easily without having to put your pack down and opening the main compartment and also for wet gear you want to keep separated from dry gear. Closed pockets give you a place to store dry and delicate items.
A well-vented backpack is what you’re looking for in the first place so it is important to assess how a pack’s ventilation system works. Ventilation is one of the most important and sought-after backpacks features so many manufacturers claim their packs are ventilated even when they aren’t. It is important to ensure that a backpack is as breathable as it claims. The defining feature of a ventilated backpack is a suspended back panel that doesn’t lie directly on your back.
Suspended mesh backs are your best defense against a hot, sweaty back. These are ventilated back panels composed of full-length mesh and a frame that is slightly elevated so there is some space between your back and the pack to allow for air flow without the load being so far out from your back that it causes problems with balance. A good breathable backpack will also have other breathability features such as hip belt and shoulder strap ventilation.
Q: What Is Ventilated Backpack?
A ventilated backpack is a backpack with a suspended mesh back or trampoline suspension system that holds the pack slightly separated from the wearer’s back to allow for airflow and evaporation of sweat. It is also referred to as a suspended mesh backpack or a trampoline style backpack. Such a backpack with back ventilation prevents a hot, sweaty back and a soggy shirt by allowing heat and sweat to escape along the sides and from the top and a cool breeze to circulate.
Q: What Are The Benefits of Using A Ventilated Backpacks?
When wearing a backpack in hot conditions, hiking or backpacking in the open backcountry, or carrying a heavily loaded pack, adequate ventilation is essential for comfort. Ventilated backpacks have suspended mesh backs so the pack isn’t lying on the wearer’s back. This promotes airflow, better evaporation of sweat and allows hot air to dissipate.
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Ventilated backpacks prevent a hot, sweaty back and a soggy shirt and reduce trail stink, all of which can cause misery and ruin adventures. They also encourage airflow – the feeling when a cool breeze hits your back in the midst of the heat is delightful. You stay drier, feel cooler and are more comfortable. Less discomfort means better performance and more fun and enjoyment of your adventures on the trail or road.
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There is just no way to avoid sweating when backpacking, hiking or traveling in summer-like conditions and with a loaded backpack on your back. Ventilated backpacks are the best way to prevent the heat and perspiration from accumulating and causing a hot, sweaty back and a soggy shirt syndrome. The suspended mesh backs that slightly raise the pack from your back allow your back to breath and heat and sweat to escape.
A backpack with back ventilation makes for much more comfort along the trail or road by keeping you drier and cooler. The best vented backpacks encourage perspiration to evaporate and a cool breeze to circulate without separating the pack so far from your back that it is difficult to carry or making packing difficult. Once you acquire the best ventilated backpack, you will find that it is one of the most comfortable packs you’ve ever worn.
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Which of the packs on our ventilated backpack reviews is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the vented packs we’ve reviewed! Feel free to share in the comment box below!