Rucksacks for walking

Rucksacks for walking

A good quality, well-fitting rucksack is crucial if you are to move well in the hills. It should connect seamlessly to your body, allowing you to carry any load securely and relatively comfortably. The load should be on your back close to your centre of gravity but spreads the majority of the weight over the hip bones and then the shoulders.

Daypacks

Daypacks cover a wide range of sizes, depending on the season and the equipment you deem necessary for a day on the hills. 15 litres (the internal volume) may be quite adequate for an easy walk in summer, when all you need to carry is some food and water, and a fleece or lightweight waterproof. On the other hand, you may need 30-40 litres capacity for a bigger walk deeper into the mountains, where you're likely to carry more spare clothes, a flask, extra food and water, and emergency items like a survival bag, first aid kit and head torch. For winter walking you may add to this more food, more clothing, axes, crampons and expand your survival equipment - perhaps including a group shelter, sleeping bag and small stove - necessitating a bag of at least 50 litres.

Multi-day rucksacks


The size of bag for multi-day walks could be anything from 45 - 100 litres


For short backpacking trips and multi-day hikes, a larger sack will be required to accommodate your food, clothing and camping gear. The length of the trip, compactness of your equipment and season dictate the size of bag you need, but it could be anything from 45 to 100 litres.

Back systems

There are two 'back systems': adjustable and fixed. An adjustable system allows you to custom-fit the back of the rucksack to your own specification. These also tend to be more padded, and are used on most large capacity backpacks. Their drawbacks are that they are more complex and so both heavier and more costly than the fixed system.

The fixed back is very plain and simple. It is lightweight, very strong and relatively inexpensive. Most small rucksacks are supplied in one size only, but the larger sacks may be offered in two to three different sizes: small, medium and large). Naturally, the larger sizes also provide a little more capacity too.

Breathability
For years we suffered with sweaty backs when carrying rucksacks - manufacturers have addressed this

For years we suffered with sweaty backs when carrying rucksacks. This is hardly surprising since we generate heat - especially when exercising - but the heat cannot escape from our backs if it's trapped there by a big, padded rucksack acting as a serious insulation layer! But in recent years manufacturers have begun to address this issue by using breathable foam panels, channelled padding, or suspending the luggage load away from the back. Each system goes some way to addressing the problem, if not eliminating it completely, but wearing a good quality wicking base layer will help your comfort too.

Fabrics

Most rucksack users demand a balance between light weight and durability (and cost). Consequently, most manufacturers use medium- and heavy-duty nylon fabrics for their bags, with Cordura being by far the most popular. Considering their light weight, these materials withstand an incredible amount of abuse and most bags last for years. However, although some materials are waterproof, few bags have sealed seams, so the bags are not guaranteed to be waterproof. If you need to keep your chattels dry then it's worth using a separate waterproof liner or cover. A bin bag, or regular polythene bags from the shops are fine for this. 

Daypack © Remains
Fitting a rucksackCorrect fitting

1. Fill the sack with your regular equipment, loosen all of the straps and put the bag on your shoulders.
2. The hip belt should fit comfortably and securely on your hip bones (not your waist). This allows you to carry the majority of the load on your hips and bone structure.
3. Tighten the shoulder straps so that the back panel is snug against your spine. You may need to bend the internal frame bars to perfect this. The shoulder straps should wrap around your shoulders neatly, to spread the load over a large area.
4. Adjust the top and side stabilising straps to achieve a snug fit that is not restrictive.
5. Remember, you'll need to adjust straps if you wear significantly different layers of clothing.

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