Shenandoah National Park
Going to hike the 100 miles of SNP this coming spring. This will be my first multi-day trip. I have done some 2-3 night winter packbacking. I am looking for suggestions on what size pack I should get. I have a 70L Osprey that doesnt fit the best. It is ok for a few days but not a week long trip. Thank you in advance.
Hi @BrianW ,
Sounds like you have an exciting trip planned! There are many options for backpacks that we could recommend for you. Since everyone's needs, comfort, fitness levels are different it's hard to make a recommendation for you without a little more information. Most people that we are outfitting for the AT and this section are going ultralight, so a 40L-60L pack is the most popular.
I would recommend an Outfitting appointment at your local REI. It would give you one on one time with one of our experts to size, fit, and find the perfect pack for your adventure. Follow this link to find an appointment near you!
Shenandoah is the most beautiful section of the AT, in my opinion. Happy Trails!
If you are hiking with a dog, check the park website to be sure that your desired route and any side trips you plan don't have restrictions for dogs.
Osprey packs are fairly adjustable for torso length and some of the waistbands can be heat molded at an REI store for better fit. Before buying a new pack I'd look into whether your current pack can be properly fitted to your body shape.
And as the portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the park crosses the road so often you may be able to work out some resupply caches or even a vehicle shuttle if you have a companion and two vehicles. Either option would cut down on the weight you'd need to tote.
Be sure to go to the NPS website and review the backcountry rules and camping policies as you will need to have you itinerary set before getting your camping permit. If you don't want to deal with the hassle the Washington and Jefferson National Forest has many miles of the AT and other trails without the bureaucracy....or the crowds.
I've done the trip myself. I bet you could get by with a 60 or a 50L without getting too crazy on the lightweight spectrum. My newest pack is an REI 60L I believe and have taken several multi-night trips with it without really stressing on every ounce too much.
I'd say you can go a smaller than you would on a deep backcountry trip because if you go in season there are a lot of roadside shops you will encounter as you crisscross the road, so you won't need to stuff your food pack. Some close or reduce hours before Memorial and after Labor Day so I would check before relying on them.
If you don't mind a couple peices of advice, the Shenandoahs stays above 3,000 feet so a cool spring night at sea level is straight-up cold. I was still trying to make a 30 degree bag work in mid-October and regretted it. Also, don't be too ambitious. It is nice to take a long lunch at the shops in the Shenandoahs to have a burger and a cup of coffee. You can't do that if you plan 18 mile days. Also, it does get busy so I you get in late the site might be packed. Don't press it.
I really enjoyed it, think you will too.