Finding the right rucksack can make or break your adventure, so choosing the right one is an important decision to make. We have made a comprehensive guide breaking down which rucksack is best, the features of a rucksack, how to fit a rucksack and how to pack a rucksack for an adventure.
Types of Packs
Sized generally from 10 to 35 litres a daysack is made for single day outings letting save on weight and has practical features made day hikes such as side pockets, walking pole holders and hydration sleeves. Because of the capacity limit you less likely to have additional support features because the weight of the bag won’t be too heavy. It’s still common to find a chest strap and hip belt but these are more to help with balancing the pack across your back.
Made for multi-day activities and will be sized from anywhere between 40 to 80litres, Rucksacks are best suited whether for longer hikes or at a festival. When you need to carry heavier and bulky items. Rucksack has internal frame will help evenly distribute the weight across the pack and rucksacks also have adjustable back systems which aid carrying comfort. A lot of rucksacks have compression straps across the pack to help stabilise and balance it on your back and to also help with packing.
A Travel Pack are for those who are going to the airport hopping across the globe. Their main panel access point will open similar to a suitcase to make packing and unpacking easier. These packs also have concealed back systems letting you stow it away for an airport friendly pack. You will also find that Travel Packs have attachment points to hold a daysack so you can detach a carry-on pack to go through security with or for when you’ve left your main bag at the hotel or hostel and need a day bag to go out exploring with. Some brands also offer wheeled versions of their packs that make moving around cities and airports even easier.
- Lid – Lids will often include a zipped pocket to easily access important and fragile essentials that you will need frequently. Some lids are also removable which can save on space and weight.
- Zipped front panel – This feature is becoming popular with rucksacks now, letting you access the main compartment of the bag without having to take the rucksack off.
- Elastic pockets or bindings – Best for storing either waterproof jackets or an insulated jacket for when the weather is quick to change to protect yourself
- Sleeping Bag compartment – An internal divider in the main compartment that helps separate big bulky items such as a sleeping bag but can also be removed
- Additional strapping – Adjustable straps on the outside on the rucksack are useful for lashing down any additional gear, such as a foam roll mat
- Hip belt pockets – Quick-access pockets which are great for storing snacks and your phone
- Compression straps – These straps will be able to keep the load stable by tightening the straps and you can also reduce the pack volume as well
- Walking pole attachment points – hook and loop closure points at the sides, letting you attach walking poles without taking off the rucksack
- Rain cover – At the bottom of the rucksack there is a zipped compartment which stores a rain cover which can be pulled over the rucksack when the rain starts
- Attachment point for a daysack – Only with Travel Packs you can attach a compatible daysack to the pack making it easy to carry everything all in one.
Women specific Rucksack
Some Rucksacks will be made with a women specific design. This design will change the shape and position of the bag and the harness straps make an 'S' shape which moves the straps away from common pressure points for women. The hip straps will also sit higher on your hips giving better support, whilst the back height of these bags are shorter to accommodate the smaller size.
Fitting a Rucksack
Having a rucksack that is correctly fitted will help with distributing the weight of the pack evenly moving the weight closer to your legs letting the strongest muscles deal with the carrying. Now Fitting a rucksack is a much easier job than you might think, the only thing to consider is doing it in the correct order.
Step 1) Add a little bit of weight to the back just enough to feel it on your back. Don’t overload the pack.
Step 2) Adjust the Torso length. Rucksacks will have a sliding harness, move the harness so it then matches your back length. This should then ensure there is no gap between your back and the pack. If you see any gap adjust the back length till it’s resolved.
Step 3) Tighten the Hip belt. Once on your back, the first thing you want to adjust and fit is the hip belt. The hip belt is important for evenly distributing the weight across your legs and lower lumbar moving the weight away from your shoulders and arms. Position the hipbelt over the upper half of your pelvis for the most comfortable fit.
Step 4) Adjust the load lifters (the straps that connect the main body to the shoulder straps) you want to pull these towards yourself, so the pack runs straight down your back keeping the weight close to your centre of gravity.
Step 5) Clip the sternum strap. Lastly, fasten the sternum strap (chest strap) this will pull the shoulder straps away from the sensitive areas where lots of blood vessels and nerves are preventing numb and tingling fingers. Be sure not to do it up to tight otherwise you’ll constrict your diaphragm and make breathing harder
How to Pack a Rucksack
Packing a rucksack can seem like a game of Tetris trying to make everything fit in, but all you need to bear in mind is the important gear at the top and less important/bulky items at the bottom. Now this can be extremely subjective everyone prioritises differently, below is an image advising the best way to prioritise your packing.
Easy access compartment
This will primarily the lid pocket and the top of the main compartment, you will want to have gear such as waterproof, fleece, headtorch, first aid kit and electronics. Having these at the top of your bag will make them easy to find especially useful for items you need.
Quick access side pockets
The quick access side pockets are perfect for storing items that you will likely want regular access to such as a water bottle, maps and compass. You will be able to reach these items without having to take the bag off.
Here is where you will store gear such as clothes, food and parts of a tent. you want to pack some of the heaviest items here so it can sit closest to your back for the best weight distribution for comfortable carrying.
As the name suggests this were you store all your sleeping gear. They are normally bulky items that are best stored at the bottom when packing because you only need this gear when you're going to sleep, rucksacks also have a bottom zip compartment so you can access the main compartment from both sides letting you get hold of gear quickly.