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Feb 16th 2009 6:54AM I've recently posted on the same topic: http://itinerantlondoner.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/top-10-national-parks/
and it's good to see that two of my choices (Tikal & Snowdonia) make a more considered list like this.
It's great to read about Tongariro too - that's now definitely on my list for my trip to NZ this autumn.
Feb 9th 2009 3:10PM Interesting article with some very good points, particularly on the importance of getting it fitted properly, and on being hydration-ready.
However I'd have to disagree with one of your points - I really don't think you need a pack as big as 5000 cubic inches (that's over 80L) for most trips, unless we are talking serious hiking expeditions in cold conditions where lots of equipment is necessary. I'm planning to spend a year going RTW with 60L (3,600 cubic inches), and a quick search of any travel forum will find a lot of people who survive on long trips much smaller still, with many going for the 40-45L size (roughly 2,500-2,750 cubic inches).
There are several other important considerations, such as do you want one that can be carried onto a plane rather than checked (in which case those 40-45L packs often suit)? Are the zips lockable (they're not on many hiking packs)? Do you want front or top loading (toploading better for hiking, front loading for longer travels)? I've posted my thoughts on the matter on my blog at http://itinerantlondoner.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/choosing-the-right-backpack/