A man walking away from the camera somewhere in the countryside and putting his rucksack on.

Rucksack Buying Guide

Your rucksack is a staple for any adventure, and selecting the best one for your trip will ensure you can carry everything you’ll need with ease. Before we get into explaining what to look out for when buying a pack, here's in-store expert Joe Lodge with the basics:

Rucksack Size Guide

Activity Type

Running / Cycling



Extended Backpacking / Travel


< 1 Day

1 Day

2-3 Days

5+ Days

Rucksack Capacity




60+ L


Rucksack Types

Fast-Paced Activity Rucksacks

Rucksacks for activities such as running or cycling are often within the region of 10-25 litres. This type of rucksack is designed to be small, light and as closely-fitting as possible. They are often only big enough for a few items, ie. food and water, an emergency layer and a map or GPS. You should therefore only take one of these packs if you are confident in your route, your ability and the weather conditions,


Some of these smaller rucksacks are designed to carry a hydration bladder - a soft rubber pouch that’s used for storing water and a long tube for drinking on the go. This is a great feature to look out for if you'll regularly be doing fast-paced activities like running or cycling. 



Hiking Day Packs

Day packs are designed for one-day adventures. Usually at around 20-40 litres, daysacks are perfect for one-day hikes, city breaks or days spent climbing where you may need to carry additional equipment.


Day packs are often neat and simple in design, with a single internal cavity and a few small pockets for a phone or a water bottle. Many will have a hip belt and shoulder straps, as these help you securely carry what can still be a heavy load, although the straps are not as bulky as on the larger multi-day packs.


The size of your day pack depends on what sort of activity you need it for. Summer hikes and short excursions only require a 20-30-litre pack, whereas heading out into the hills and mountains in winter may require something closer to a 40-litre pack as these trips often require more kit.



Multi-Day And Backpacking Rucksacks 

At around 60+ litres, these rucksacks are amongst the largest available and are perfect for people heading out into the wilderness for a few days and nights on a self-supported trip, or on expeditions such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or with Girlguiding/Scouts.


Main features include a large padded hip belt and chunky shoulder straps, which help to support and efficiently distribute the heavy load. They will have a large internal section for the majority of your items, as well as internal and external pockets for storing gear that you may want to access more easily.


Many multi-day rucksacks often have a variety of external straps and buckles. Some of these allow items like a tent or a roll mat to be strapped to the outside, whereas others are to compress and stabilise the load. Take time to familiarise yourself with these straps as although they may look alike, they have very different functions.


With a large, heavy rucksacks it is very important that it fits you correctly, this will help you have a more comfortable trip as well as avoiding injury.



Duffels And Wheeled Luggage

In certain circumstances, a duffel bag or wheeled luggage will be a better choice than a rucksack. These bags range from 30 litres up to 120+ litres. 


If you are going to be travelling long distances on foot, over changeable and broken ground or will be staying in a range of accommodations then a rucksack is definitely the best choice.


If, however, you are going to be travelling long distances by train or car, will spend the majority of your time in one location and will only be walking small distances, such as from the airport to a taxi and then through a hotel or hostel, then a duffel or wheeled bag could be more appropriate.



Do I Need A Women's-Specific Pack?

Some rucksacks are women's-specific in their design. This is to do with the overall shape, size and intended position of the bag. Women’s rucksacks have more rounded ‘S’ shaped straps, whereas men’s are more parallel. The hip straps on a women’s pack also sit a little higher, taking into account body shape differences, and the backs on women’s packs are shorter.


However, you are not bound to one type of rucksack or another based on your gender. If a rucksack fits you correctly, then it's the right choice for you.



It's important that your rucksack fits you correctly to avoid injuring yourself and maximise your comfort during your trip. Visit us in-store for a free rucksack fitting with one of our experts, who will be able to fit you for a new pack or adjust the one you have to fit perfectly. You can also check out our rucksack fitting guide here.



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