Backpacks are popular for a reason. No other bag is quite as versatile or practical. They can be used by anyone – men, women and kids - and leave your hands free to get on with your day. The design of the backpack makes them extremely comfortable to carry as they evenly distribute weight across your body. This is much healthier for you as it doesn’t cause your body to bend to one side or affect your walking gait, like some shoulder bags can.
Whether you consider yourself an outdoorsy type or not, a backpack has many uses, with styles to take you from the urban jungle to the middle of nowhere.
Because of the huge amount of choice available, it can be tricky to find the right backpack for your needs. It’s easy to feel bogged down with all the options. Our backpacking guide lists the key things you should focus on when choosing a backpack. But first, lets clear up what we mean by a backpack or rucksack.
What’s the difference between a rucksack and backpack?
The two terms are often used to mean the same thing – but technically, a rucksack is a type of backpack. A backpack is any bag that can be carried on your back. A rucksack is a large backpack that’s often used for backpacking or holidays.
Backpack buying guide
Here’s a checklist of all the things you need to look out for before buying your backpack.
Where are you going with your backpack?
Are you looking for a rucksack for camping that will hold all your equipment or a small daypack for sightseeing? Do you need your rucksack for trekking or to hold a laptop? Or maybe you’re looking for a festival backpack? Wherever you’re going, you need to make sure your backpack is suitable for the activity you’re doing – and how you’re doing the activity. For example, if you want a backpack for work, consider how you usually get to work. If you drive or commute, a basic backpack is ideal. If you cycle or walk to work, you’ll need extra features like a waterproof cover.
You’ll need to consider the backpack’s capacity (can it carry all your stuff?), handy features (does it have the added extras you need?), ease of carrying (is it comfortable?) and durability (will it last?). More on all of this below.
Not sure which backpack is best for your needs? Match your backpack to your activity
How big do you need your backpack to be?
Backpacks come in a range of capacities from 15l daypacks to 65l+ rucksacks. The one you need depends on how much kit you have. Your backpack needs to be large enough to hold all the items you want to take, but not overly bulky. If you purchase a backpack that’s always only half full, you’ve got the wrong capacity. If you can’t fit in all your kit, you need to upgrade to a bigger size.
As a general guide:
Backpack 15-25l – best for day trips and sightseeing
Backpack 20-25l – best for school or work
Backpack 25-45l – best for trekking, camping or weekends away
Backpack 45-65l – best for backpacking
Holdalls – best for holidays
Could you wear the backpack comfortably all day long?
We can’t underestimate how important this is. If your backpack digs in at the shoulders, feels uncomfortable, or hurts your back, you won’t want to use it. In the worst-case scenario, it could even cause an injury, which is not what anyone wants.
The only way to check if a backpack fits properly is to try it on, preferably with something inside the bag so you know how it will feel weighted.
How should a backpack fit?
Shoulder straps – go for padded, adjustable shoulder straps that fit comfortable across the shoulders without digging in. Backpacks for women should be ergonomically designed to fit the female shape. Pull the shoulder straps tight so the backpack sits high up your back.
Back support – look out for contoured, padded backs that follow the natural shape of your body. This is especially important for larger backpacks and rucksacks. Our cool mesh back system lets air flow between the bag and your back, keeping you more comfortable.
Hip belts – these should sit on your hip bones and transfer the load weight of larger backpacks and rucksacks from your back to your legs. This makes the backpacks easier and more comfortable to carry. You won’t find hip belts on many smaller daypacks as they are not needed due the lower weight load.
How to fit a 45l+ rucksack
Because you’ll be carrying a heavier load, it’s even more important to get the fit right for large rucksacks. This will help prevent injury and make it easier to carry your rucksack from place to place.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on what you need to do:
1. Loosen all straps – including the back system.
2. Position the hip strap - either put the middle or top of the hip belt in line with your hip bone, depending on what feels most comfortable to you.
3. Tighten the hip straps – they should be firm around your hips but not digging in.
4. Check the shoulder straps – tighten the straps to see how they fit. They should be flush against your shoulder blades then follow the natural contours of your body. If they are raised up above your shoulders, the shoulder straps are too high. If they don’t sit against your shoulder blades, they are too low.
5. Extend or shorten the back length accordingly – move the back system until your shoulder straps sit in the right position.
6. Tighten any other straps – like chest straps, load stabilising straps and hip stabilising straps. This will differ for each rucksack.
What does the backpack weigh before you pack it?
The weight of empty backpacks can vary considerably – even if you’re comparing bags with the same capacity. This is because different backpacks are made from different materials. If you intend to carry your backpack large distances, for example, if you’re going trekking or backpacking, you want to choose a lightweight backpack that won’t add too much weight to your load. Check the bag’s features to find out its weight before you buy.
Is the backpack tough enough to stand the test of time?
One of the great things about backpacks is you shouldn’t need to be precious with them. A great backpack can handle the rigours of your life like a pro. It can cope with gym lockers, car boots, train foot wells, airport security, mountainous terrain and sandy beaches. The crucial thing is to get a backpack that won’t let you down wherever you’re going. Our backpacks are made from hardy material, which is designed to last for years. Look out for special features like Ripstop that helps to prevent tears.
Do you need a rain cover, hydration points or a laptop pockets?
Backpacks come with different features to suit varying needs and activities. Laptop pockets are ideal for school or office use. Waterproof rucksacks and backpacks with rain covers are great for daytrips, trekking and backpacking. Hydration points let you add a water bladder for on the go hydration. Pole carrier points give you somewhere to attach trekking poles. Multiple pockets let you organise your kit.
Who is the backpack for?
Are you looking for a backpack for men, backpack for women or a kids backpack? This can affect the size you need. This isn’t in terms of the capacity – but more to do with the design and build of the backpack. For example, kids backpacks have a shorter back length so they fit better against smaller bodies. This makes them more comfortable for kids to carry. But they can still hold 20l of kit – making them ideal for sleepovers, camping, school and more. Womens and mens backpacks are ergonomically designed to fit different body shapes for extra comfort.
8. Colour and style
Do you like the way the backpack looks?
Yes, your backpack needs to be comfortable, the right size and have all the features you need. But if you don’t like the way it looks you probably won’t use it that much. Colour and style are important. Our backpacks come in a range of colours from bright to muted. There are different shapes and styles from urban to classic. Plus different fabrics and accessories. So you can find perfect style for your backpack.
Is the price right?
Backpacks can vary in price considerable so consider how much you want to spend before you start looking. Easy Camp is all about affordable quality. We have backpacks and rucksacks for every activity at a great price – and you can trust they won’t let you down.
10. Not convinced?
Maybe a backpack isn’t for you?
Can’t see yourself with a backpack or rucksack on your back? Why not try one of our holdalls instead? They’re great for camping, holidays or the gym and come in different styles to suit different needs.
Shop holdalls here
How to clean a backpack
Have festivals, camping, travel, commutes and days out left your backpack looking a bit sorry for itself? Like anything that’s used a lot, your backpack will need a clean every now and then to keep it looking its best. Here’s how to do this:
1. Give your backpack a regular wipe down with warm soapy water. Use just a couple of drops of mild, backpack safe detergent mixed with water. Wipe all over and leave to dry.
2. If your backpack is very dirty or smelly, you can pop it in the washing machine. Remove all contents and leave everything unzipped. Make sure your machine is big enough for the backpack – it needs space to move around. Put the backpack in a laundry bag to stop the straps getting caught. Set the machine to a gentle, cold cycle. Add some mild, backpack safe detergent. When the cycle is finished, hang up the bag to dry. Don’t put it in a tumble dryer.
Got a question?
We’re here to help! If there is anything you want to know about buying your backpack, rucksack or holdall online or if you have any queries about our products, please get in touch.