Rucksacks now come in two varieties: daysacks and backpacks. Women can get away with wearing a daysack: small, delicate affairs with room inside to carry the merest of basic equipment for a short hike around the local common (mobile phone, replacement make-up, emergency chocolate bar, emergency nail file, emergency tweezers – in fact, anything they like as long as they qualify the item with the word ‘emergency’). Many female hikers feel they are going back to basics with a daysack, and might feel a little vulnerable without a handbag the size of a buffalo.
Hikers whose rucksacks pull them over backwards don’t get very far, rather like tortoises.
Backpacks can be equally huge. Confusingly, to the uninitiated, their capacity is measured in litres. Between 30 and 50 litres is large enough for most day hikes; anything over 50 litres and you can take your entire wardrobe with you. Hikers in the know go for good, supportive hip straps, as they carry most of the weight around their waist rather than hanging it from their shoulders. However, hip straps are notoriously difficult to control when the rucksack is standing on the floor. They are excellent at tripping people up in the pub or at coach stations. Of course, you could use this to your advantage if you want to snare someone you fancy…
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Sadly, rucksacks are not always waterproof. They should be lined with thick plastic survival bags if you want to stop your loo roll from disintegrating. They also have a tendency to pull the wearer over backwards. Hikers whose rucksacks pull them over backwards don’t get very far, rather like tortoises.
Serious hikers (and well-prepared bluffers) often purchase a wire net with a padlock to chain their rucksack to a drainpipe or other immovable object when they need to leave it unattended. This is particularly useful at the start of a hike when the contents have not yet acquired the strong, sweaty odour that normally automatically repels opportunistic thieves.