Consumer Information

Tips for Selecting the Right Bag for the Job

Picking the correct bag for a hiking trip, range use, or simply for day to day use takes some time and consideration. There are many factors you need to look at when selecting your bag. We are frequently asked questions from our customers about bags. Here are a few tips to help you make the right decision when choosing a bag.

What do you want to do with your bag?

This is probably the most important thing to consider when shopping for a bag. Bags are largely specialized, lending themselves more to certain tasks than others. Are you going to be using this bag for daily use, hauling around books and maybe a laptop, is it going to be a dedicated range bag, or is it going to be used for camping and hiking? If you’re going to be using it for day to day use, you will need to consider what you are going to be carrying from point A to point B. Laptop pouches, pen and pencil holders, and cell phone pouches are all things you may want to look for, depending on your specific needs. For a daily use bag, comfort isn’t going to be a big concern. You most likely will not have the bag on your shoulders for more than 20 minutes a day (from your car into work, and vice versa). On the other hand, you may need to frequently move items in and out of the bag, so accessibility may play a factor.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be taking your bag hiking you will need to take a lot more time and care in picking this bag out. Not only does it need to be able to hold all of your gear and be rugged, but it also needs to be comfortable to carry over long distances. You may want to look for other features like a water bladder pouch, Molle™ webbing, and a load-bearing belt.

What kind of carry are you looking for?

For a daily use bag, you can look to the single-shoulder or sling-type bags. These bags are not great for hiking as they do not distribute the weight across both your shoulders but rather one shoulder and your neck. While not as comfortable as a backpack, this “messenger style” bag is very convenient and easily accessible. The other style of carry that is great for the daily bag is the hand-grip bag. These bags are very quick “grab and go” bags, and great for a bug-out-bag as well.

Now let’s move on to hiking and camping bags. When choosing a bag for hiking or camping, comfort will be a major deciding factor. At the same time, you will often want a bag with a very large capacity. The important thing here is not to purchase any larger than you absolutely need. For short walks or day trips you will be best served by using something like a three-day assault backpack. These packs are small, lightweight packs and are great for short range walking or hiking trips. If you’re planning an extended hiking or backpacking trip you’ll be carrying much more gear, so a pack with a frame or other form of load bearing system would be more appropriate. We carry a wide variety of these bags such as our military surplus frame pack. This pack is the same one issued to US Marines in Iraq. Some people are not fans of framed packs.

What color do you want?

Now it’s time to show your true colors and pick the color of your bag. I personally prefer to purchase my bags in Coyote Tan. This color will blend in with most surroundings and will not heat-up like a black or darker color pack would. OD Green bags are great for hunting, or if you want to blend into your green surroundings. Packs colored in Army Digital have become quite popular; it is a universal camouflage that is made to blend in with almost any terrain. A couple of other colors you may have to choose from when it comes to picking your bag are the Real Tree™ type, woodland camouflage, or the very popular Multicam™.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

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