Backpacks and Rucksacks

Whether you have a child who goes to school every day, or you are going hiking, backpacks are absolute must-haves. Carrying all of your supplies while trekking or your laptop to the office does not need to be a hassle.

There are several types of backpacks with various storage capacities and features. The terms backpack, daypacks and rucksacks are often used interchangeably, but more technical packs are generally referred to as rucksacks .The most important factor in choosing a pack is the activity you will be using it for.  

Capacity

When buying backpacks, it is important to know that visual inspections are not the best parameter to determine the amount of storage. For instance, one backpack may seem bigger since it is longer, but it can be the same volume as a backpack, which is shorter, but has more pockets.

The capacity of a backpack is the amount of storage space, including pockets, measured in litres.

A 70-litre backpack will have 70 litres of storage space. It is important to know roughly how much gear you will have before you buy your pack.

Types of backpacks

There are several styles of backpacks to choose from with different sizes and purposes.

Mini Backpacks:

Backpacks which are used to store a small number of things like a water bottle, a basic first aid kit and a granola bar.

Mini backpacks are popular among marathon runners and cyclists, who need the bare essentials without the extra weight.

Small Backpacks:

Small backpacks provide approximately 8-10 litres of storage

Perfect for a picnic or a small shopping trip.

A small backpack is large enough to hold some lunch, bottled water and numerous other things, and not be too heavy to carry. Excellent for children to carry to school.

Day Packs or Day Sacks:

Daypacks provide approximately 10-30 litres of storage

Excellent for a weekend vacation or trek, a large daysack can serve as a 3-day pack where you can store your clothes, food and water.

What to consider when purchasing a backpack

It is easy to get confused when selecting a backpack given the sheer number of materials and varieties that are available. Below is a list of things to consider when making your choice:

Consider the nature of your activity:

If you are going hiking, choose a backpack that is comfortable and will not be too heavy since you will be wearing it for an extended amount of time.

Skiers need to choose a pack that allows for freedom of movement. Be sure to choose one with a sternum strap as well as a hip belt, allowing you to carry your skies. The litre amount depends on your personal strength and ability to control the pack if it shifts.

Rain protection:

Since the weather is unpredictable, there is always the possibility of rain when you are out hiking or climbing. Buy a backpack that has a built-in or even an integrated rain cover which you can quickly pull over to cover the backpack within seconds.

Back ventilation:

Sweating is inevitable when hiking. Therefore, your daypack should have a suspended mesh back creates a large air space between your back and the pack to keep you cool.

Hydration Compatible:

A good daypack should have a pocket to store a hydration unit which has an exit hole for a drinking tube so that you don’t have to open your bag every time you feel the need to drink some water.

Comfortable hip belt and compression straps:

The padded waist belt provides extra comfort because as the weight in the bag increases, the pressure on your waist and hip increases as well. Look for a backpack with compression straps on the side to hold things like skis, poles and so on.

Smaller pockets:

Also known as wand pockets, a good bag should have multiple smaller pockets on the sides or at the base to store things which you need within quick grabbing distance.

Rucksacks?

Medium sized rucksacks:

The main advantage of a medium sized rucksack is that they are tough. They have various technical features and range from 35 litres to 50 litres. Rucksacks have more pockets, compression belts as well as utility pouches. Most of these have adjustable shoulder straps, so as to be versatile and suitable for people of all heights.

Since they are designed to carry more weight, they have additional features like a padded hip belt to draw the weight off the hip, collapsible pockets to store smaller things for easier access.

Most medium sized rucksacks have a hollow base as well as a top that expands, where you can store extra things. These have a zipper system for easier access. Medium sized rucksacks are used profusely by skiers, and that is why they have additional points of attachment and eyelets, where you can attach things like skis.

Large sized rucksacks:

With over 65 litres of space, they are the best when it comes to extended holidays, long camping trips and world tours.

Usually, they have front zipper openings, which allow access to almost all of the contents of the bags. They also have hidden compartments for cash and valuable documents. The best thing about them is that you can share the load with someone else since they also have a detachable bag attached to them, which usually stores up to 20 litres.

What are climbing packs?

Features of a climbing pack:

  • Compression straps to fix the belongings inside.
  • Hip belt to attach the bag to the hip.
  • Extra pockets to store extra things, documents, etc.
  • Additional straps for secure fastening.
  • In-built rain cover
  • Luminescent piping for seeing in the dark.
  • External clips for attaching ropes.
  • Inner structure for even distribution of weight.

Advantages of climbing packs:

Climbing packs have been made to offer maximum support and minimum weight to its wearers. Like all other camping gear and device, climbing packs have advantages.

They have extra looping or pads at the shoulders and hips, called gear loops, to make sure that the pack stays secured to the wearer’s back.

If needed, the pack can be carried with the help of a wire or a rope using the haul hoops placed on the front and the back if it is too heavy for the wearers back.

The hip belt is removable, and you can take it off if it becomes uncomfortable during the climb upwards.

For the ones using ice axes, these sacks also have ice hoops where the axes can be fixed and accessed easily without hurdles.

A rope compressor present on the base of the top lid allows for quick attachment.

The crampon pouch in the front protects the climbing pack from any damage while the climber is on a rough terrain.

How to decide on the fit?

Like any other backpack, the fit depends on your frame and height of your back, and therefore, varies from one individual to another. Ideally, all rucksacks have adjustable shoulder and waist straps, and you can adjust them to your height.

Technically, the hip belt is the most important part, as it will distribute the weight onto your legs. It is necessary that neither the shoulder nor the hip strap is too tight because it will cause the imbalance of weight. Then you should fix the chest strap so that it is parallel to the front of the shoulder joint.

Things to Remember While Packing Your Rucksack:

  • Distribute the weight as evenly and as tightly as possible inside the rucksack.
  • While packing, keep the storage pockets open.
  • Store cash and relevant documents in the compressible pockets.
  • Do not store anything in or jam the rope compressor.
  • Always carry poles and skis on the outside of the pack and tie tight.
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