A backpacker’s guide to choosing, packing and looking after a backpack


May 13, 2024

Share on

A backpacker’s guide to choosing, packing and looking after a backpack

Who’s that at the door? Oh, that’s just spring wondering if you’re coming out to play today. With longer and brighter days ahead, no doubt you’ll be eager to pack your bag and get back into nature. Whether you’re going on a day’s hike in the glorious North Yorkshire moors, a bike ride through the pretty Peak District, or you’re off on your jollies for a weekend in the lakes, you’ll certainly want to ensure you’ve got the right kit for your adventures, particularly the right backpack. So, let’s look at the different types of backpacks, as well as peek into how you can pack them like a pro and maintain them as you go!

By the way, if you’re wondering why we’re using the term ‘backpacks’ and not ‘rucksacks’ and what the difference is between them, then it’s simply because we don’t want to confuse you, as actually, the two terms are mostly interchangeable.

Different backpacks for different activities

In the same way you choose different items of clothing for different activities, your backpack choice is the same, as depending on what you’re doing, the size, capacity and function of your backpack can differ somewhat.

Backpacks for everyday use

Everyday backpacks are great for commuting to and from work, or for short day trips that don’t involve rigorous activity, which is why they’re generally compact and lightweight and ideal for carrying water bottles, phones, wallets, keys and snacks. Our Exley day backpack is a perfect example of this, as it features comfy straps and handy zip pockets. Alternatively, the Herschel backpack has a sophisticated ‘office vibe’ look, and the Burdett backpack has a handy laptop pocket making it ideal for remote working days spent in cafes or on the train.

How to pack your day backpack

Start by laying out all the items you'll need for the day, such as water bottles, phone, wallet, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses etc. and prioritise these items based on how often you'll use them, with easily accessible ones like water placed near the top. Utilise your backpack's zipped compartments for valuables such as your wallet and keys, and the bigger compartments for notebooks, ipad and, if there’s room, your laptop.

Backpacks for walking, hiking and cycling  (WHC backpacks)

Walking, hiking and biking backpacks need to be big enough to carry your essentials, while also being lightweight enough to not weigh you down after a few hours on your feet, or pedals! This means the biggest difference between the WHC backpacks and the day backpacks is the size. Our Doherty backpack is perfect for these activities as it can hold everything you need for your adventure, including a folded waterproof packaway jacket! Also, the bungee webbing and side pockets make it ideal for quick and easy access to your water bottle.

How to pack your walking, hiking and cycling backpack

When heading out for a day hike, pack light but essentials like water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and a map or GPS device. Use the main compartment for larger items and utilise exterior pockets for easy access to smaller essentials. Once your backpack is packed, adjust the shoulder straps, sternum strap, and hip belt (if applicable) to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. The backpack should sit snugly against your back and distribute weight evenly across your shoulders and hips, which will make your walk or bike ride a lot more enjoyable

Backpacks for travelling

Travelling backpacks come in all different shapes and sizes and you’re pretty spoilt for choice on design and functionality on these, especially if you’re planning on going globetrotting, or hitting the Eurostar for some cross-country exploration. If this is the area you’re particularly interested in, then our ‘how to find the right backpack for you’ journal will be ideal for you.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a travel backpack ideal for weekends away, or even just to hit the gym with, then the easy-pack, rolling style of the Rhodes Holdall is a great choice for this, as it has a large packing capacity and is super comfortable to sling over your shoulder.

Of course, travel bags also come in the classic holiday-style wheelie form too, which are the popular go-to for planes, trains and city breaks. But, if you’re like us, your idea of a perfect holiday will probably feature some exciting outdoor activities, in which case you might want to consider a durable, and waterproof roller bag that is designed to get down and dirty!

How to pack your travel bag

Think about what you'll really need on your adventures. Begin with the basics like your favourite outfits, comfy shoes, and toiletries, then add your active wear on top, which you can pack in a heavy-duty carrier bag, which will be handy when things get dirty. Roll your clothes to save space, and don't forget those little extras like a snack stash. Utilise packing cubes or compression sacks to keep everything neat and tidy, and make sure your heaviest gear is snug against your back for easier carrying.

How to maintain your backpack so it lasts year on year

Maintaining your backpack is key to keeping it ready for your next adventure. Give it a gentle clean with soap and water every month or so to keep it looking fresh. Regularly check for any wear and tear, like loose threads or stubborn zippers, and fix them up promptly, as these will just get worse over time if you leave them. Also, a little zipper lubricant can go a long way in keeping things running smoothly.

Back to blog
Previous article
Next article