How to buy a rucksack or daypack
Pretty much every activity, including walking, cycling skiing and running, will benefit form a good rucksack. And with so many different rucksacks, daypacks, tavel bags, laptop bags and kit bags to choose from you’ll find the perfect size and shape to suit your chosen activity.
Rucksack size matters
First, you’ll need to think about the size. If it’s a short outing and during the summer months, a smaller backpack will suit your activity. While for longer trips, such as multi-day walking challenges, you’ll need something larger for stuffing in all your kit. But it’s worth remembering that whatever the size of bag, you’ll need to have the strength and energy to carry it, perhaps over many miles, so keep an eye on what you pack.
Rucksacks suited to different sports
If you’re running or walking you want a backpack that doesn’t move around too much. A pack that moves around is annoying and can easily lead to rubs and skin irritations. So, you should look for a rucksack with a snug fit. Make sure it has adjustable shoulder straps, as well as a waist strap and hopefully a chest strap. The straps need to be easy to adjust so that you can keep the fit snug, whatever you are wearing.
Many rucksacks suited to high-energy sports such as running and cycling include a hydration pack. This is a bag that can be filled with water, and comes with a tube that is sucked on for hydration during activity.
Rucksacks suited to men and women
Lots of rucksacks are made to fit men and women, and this is because of different physiques. Larger rucksacks, such as those that are suited to long walking challenges or overseas travel will have male and female specific versions, to allow for a good fit. A women’s rucksack will generally have a shorter back length and have straps suited for wider hips and to allow for larger chests. A good quality rucksack should also come with an adjustable back so that it can be set to suit your individual body dimensions.
When running you might want a rucksack that is pared down to the basics. It’s easier to run with a lighter pack, although waist and chest straps are still vital for keeping the pack snug on your back. Look for features such as:
- Zipped pockets for stowing important items such as keys.
- Waterproof pockets for keeping your mobile phone dry.
- Pockets for water bottles or a hydration pack
- Pockets in the wrist strap for keeping energy bars handy.
Rucksacks for walkers
Day-long walking adventures, especially during the winter months when you’ll need to carry a lot more kit, will require bigger rucksacks. A 35 to 55 litre pack will probably be what you’re after. Pockets are really useful for stowing all sorts of bits of equipment and clothing. Rather than having to delve into the bag and turn everything out each time you need something you can more easily keep track of where you have put things if you have various sections and pickets in the rucksack.
For example, a top pocket is great for keeping essentials such as gloves, map and compass. An inner waterproof pocket is perfect for your GPS and mobile phone. Mesh pockets are great for carrying water bottles.
However, some people prefer the “less is more” approach. One inner pocket can work well if you have all your kit stowed in smaller platic bags inside for easier retrieval.
Different backs for rucksacks
Rucksacks for high-energy activities will also have a range of features meant to prevent your back from sweating. Some have mesh backs, while others use wick away materials. It’s a question of personal preference.
For example, the Regatta Adventure Tech 35l bag has Mesh vented airflow back system.
If you have the money to pay for a fully waterproof rucksack then go for it. Most of us are on a tighter budget, so you should make sure you buy waterproof rucksack liner bags to keep things dry if you’re planning on being outdoors when it’s raining. Most rucksacks will offer some protection from rain but in a full-on deluge this is unlikely to be sufficient. A cheaper alternative is to pack everything in plastic shopping bags within your rucksack.
Other useful bags
A boot bag, laptop bag, hockey kit bag. You name it, there is a bag to suit your needs. Each bag will come with a strong of features to suit its use. And in a perfect world we’d all have a different bag to suit every sport and occasion. If you are on a bit of a budget, look for rucksacks that can serve a couple of purposes, such as a rucksack for walking hills and one that has an insert for keeping your laptop safe while travelling to the office or on a plane.
Other rucksack features to look out for
Wheels make the job of getting about easier if you will be walking where the surface is smooth. For example, wheeled bags make a lot of sense when you’re at an airport or travelling in a city. On trails, the wheels will not do the best of jobs! Therefore a wheeled bag that can also convert into a rucksack is an excellent buy.