Backpack Basics: The Elements of Suspension

Some backpacks have more sophisticated suspension systems than others, but the most important thing to know about a suspension system in a backpack is whether it feels comfortable to you.

The basic components of suspension systems in a technical backpack are:

  • Shoulder harness: The shoulder harness is meant to keep the backpack in place, not to support all the weight of your gear. Curved shoulder harnesses tend to provide the best fit.
  • Hip belt: The hip belt may be the most essential element of a technical backpack because it helps transfer weight from your shoulders to your hips and legs. Look for a hip belt that is wide and well-padded. But fit is most important, so be sure to try on several styles before buying one.
  • Lumbar pad: The lumbar pad is the padding on the backpack that sits at the small of your back. A lumbar pad made of high-friction fabric can help keep your hip belt from sliding around as you hike.
  • Stabilizer straps: These straps provide extra support at the shoulders and hips.

Backpacking equipment such as the Osprey Expos 46 Technical Pack, for example, features a hip belt and harness of mesh-covered foam for comfort and breathability.

Kiteboarding Basics: Get the Right Gear

If you haven’t tried it yet, kiteboarding is a variation on wakeboarding in which the rider is pulled by a kite, rather than a boat. Kiteskiing is the same principle, but the rider wears water skis instead of using a board.

Whether you have already discovered kiteboarding or if you are new to this water sport, it’s important to have the right equipment. You’ll need to choose from the different kiteboards available, and you’ll need water sports gear including swimwear, lines and a kite.

Twin tip or bidirectional kiteboards let you move from forward to backward easily. Some companies have designed kiteboards specifically with women riders in mind. The Liquid Force Aura features lightweight construction with a composite foam core and a “women’s specialized flex profile.”

Once you have found your board, the WakeKite Superfly 5.5 package includes everything else you need for kiteboarding. The kit includes the different lines that you need, as well as an inflatable kite, carbon fiber handle and an instructional DVD with tips for how to get your best ride.