There is a multitude of rucksacks out there available to buy with a range of different options. In this guide, we will go through what you should consider before buying a rucksack so that you can pick out the best one for you.
What size rucksack do I need?
The fist thing you should think about when buying a rucksack is how big do you need it to be. Ideally, you want a bag that is big enough to fit all your stuff in easily, without having to resort to attaching things to the outside of it. If you have things attached to the outside, they can get damaged, lost and the swinging around will make walking that little bit harder so make sure your bag is big enough.
Bag size is measured in litres as to how much you can fit inside. Take note of the actual size however as it can be confusing, a 50-litre bag could be a 30-litre bag with 20 litres of pockets which could be less useful to you then a 45-litre bag with a 5-litre pocket. So be sure to check the size of the main compartment and that it can fit all you need.
Here is a rough guide on what size bag you would expect to need.
For short summer walks then you don’t need to carry much in the way of equipment so a 20 -30 litre bag should suffice, any more than that and you are probably carrying too much.
For longer day/winter walks you need to carry more supplies like warm clothing, food, water so you might want a bigger bag to accommodate. A 30 – 40 litre bag should be big enough for any day adventure.
For multi-day walks, you need to carry a lot more equipment so a bigger bag will be needed. If you are staying in hostels or huts then you could perhaps get away with a 45-55 litre bag. If you are camping and carrying tents, stoves etc then you would normally need a 55-65+ litre bag.
Most people will have different sized rucksacks for different adventures so try and think about what you are going to be using it for most and get one that suits that best.
The next thing you should think about is how well the rucksack fits you. This is less important for small bags used for short trips but as soon as you get to long day trips and multi-day trips, it makes a huge difference to how long you can comfortably wear your bag.
Fill your bag with stuff and follow these steps for a perfect bag fitting.
- Any good large rucksack will come in either different sizes or have an adjustable back to adjust the length of your torso. Measure the length of your back and then adjust the bag to fit.
- Your legs are the strongest part of your body ideally we want to get as much of the weight onto our hips and down throughout legs, this avoids putting excess strain on your back. We do this by putting the waistband just above our hips and then tightening them up. This will take most of the weight off of your shoulders and let us adjust the rest of the bag.
- Next, we need to adjust the length of the shoulder straps so that they hold the bag in the correct position. Do not overtighten as you will add unwanted pressure on your shoulders and chest.
- After that you should find two straps, one on each shoulder that connects the top of the bag and the shoulder straps, tighten these up so that the top of the bag is pulled in towards your neck. This will bring the weight towards you so that it is not dragging you backwards, requiring you to lean forward to compensate.
- Next is your chest strap, once again make sure this is in a comfortable position and not too tight.
- Finally use the compression straps on your bag to make the bag as small and tight as possible.
Thats it, you now have a bag fitted to you, trust me it will make a massive difference.
Features to look for in a Rucksack
There is a whole host of features on bags that you may or may not want, here are some of the main ones so you can decide what to look for.
Camelback compatible bags are great if you are looking to use a hydration unit inside, they will have a pocket for the water and a hole for the tube to come out
External pockets useful to keep things like suncream readily available and also things like fuel separate from the rest of your pack
Compression straps are great for making you bag as small and compact as possible
Walking pole straps for your poles…
Rain cover to put over your bag and keep everything dry(always use other methods as well to keep important stuff dry)
Padded hip belt for comfort
So there we go, you should now have a much better understanding of what to look for when buying a rucksack. As always, any questions please ask below.