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Rucksack / Backpack Buying guide

The Backpack and Rucksack Buying Guide

If you’re in the market for a serious backpack, of course you’re going to be adding many military and hard-use backpacks to your shortlist. We’ve got a huge range of options for you to choose from, but that’s not the point of this article. The point of this article is to equip you with the knowledge so that you can make good decisions about the type of bag you need and want. By having this knowledge you will be able to make smarter choices regarding you next rucksack/backpack.


Military backpacks in particular have a variety of uses that make them indispensable to anyone needing to carry anything that won’t fit in your pockets. They have strength, capacity, and special features, so, unlike cheap commercial school bags (we all know the ones), these packs are ideal for creating a bug out bag or hiking long distances. Depending on your needs you may be suited to one bag or another, so always keep in mind what you want the bag for. Whether it is simple for urban and commuter use, military use, trekking use or anything else.

Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II Backpack

Maxpedition Pygmy Falcon II Backpack


While it seems like the appearance of a military backpack is unimportant, it’s actually rather significant for some uses. Having a good camouflage pattern can make a real difference. If you have an interest in hunting, hiking, or war games like paintball, a dull green backpack will stick out where a camouflage one would not. Before buying a backpack, look at the pattern and make sure that it is real camouflage. Most people will use military backpacks in a forest environment, so look into those kinds of patterns. Some common camouflage patterns include multi-cam and Kryptek (there are loads more).

But, if you aren’t going to be using your bag in the outdoors and simply want it for the urban jungle, you may want to consider black or grey styles. These will allow you the blend into the concrete jungle with ease and not leave you worried your bag might break whilst wrestling through the crowds of other commuters.

Pentagon Trojan Backpack

Pentagon Trojan Backpack

Space and Capacity

Whether you’ve got a small, one day pack like the 5.11 Rush 12, or a monster hauler such as the SnugPak Bergen, packing any backpack especially a military or bug-out bag is critical for efficiency and you’ve got to be intelligent about it. Luckily, most quality packs these days have many internal compartments to help you split things up. You will however need to be sure that it has the capacity to hold everything you need it to hold – and then a little (rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it). If you have a specific use for the backpack in mind, then plan out how large of a backpack you need to manage your usage. Unused space can still be useful in the future. If you would rather have a smaller pack which you can use every day and then customise and increase its capacity directly with your needs, you will want to consider a MOLLE or ALICE pack. These will allow you to extend your bag as needed with specific pouches and pockets with specific purposes in mind. For example you can get extensions for you phone, medical kits, holsters and essentially anything you could possibly need in the outdoors.

Snugpak Bergen

Snugpak Bergen


The material of a backpack that’s to be used either daily or for heavy duty carry needs to be light, but strong. The weight is important, because you are going to be wearing it for extended periods of time. You want it to be as light as possible without compromising on strength and other features, like waterproofing. A military backpack can hold a lot of gear, and we aren’t just talking about pens and pencils, we are talking heavy gear.

You will want to make sure that the backpack’s material is light enough, but yet durable, that you can manage the weight of the backpack and the load at the same time. Another thing to think about in terms of weight is that you’ve got many choices in design, such as internal or external frame. It’s always good to read reviews from users who have used each of the backpacks you are considering to see if any of them mention about the size or weighting of the pack.

The strap design is also very important – if the straps are designed poorly, they will cut into your shoulders and make carrying the backpack very uncomfortable. Bad shoulder straps can completely ruin your entire expedition. Maxpedition and 5.11 packs are two of the brands we like when it comes to comfort. These aren’t the only two brands that make good bags and packs, but if you are starting out looking for a pack, it’s definitely worth starting with these.

Special Features

We call them special features, but what we really want to say is a bit more long winded, something like; ‘Things you may need on your pack but aren’t quite sure until you need them’. Examples of this include waterproofing and the ability to attach additional packs and pouches. These aren’t essential but can come in really handy. These days too you’ll often find that lots of these extras come as standard, but it’s always worth checking before hand.

Overboard Pro Sports Waterproof Backpack

Overboard Pro Sports Waterproof Backpack

Compare and Research

The first thing to do is settle on a budget. Once you have a price range, you will have a shorter list of bags and packs to compare as well as any potential pouches and pockets that you may need.

Next, you can go through that product pages and see what is available. You need to decide on a core set of features that you absolutely must have, and then some additional features that you may like to have, but are not necessary. Once you’ve discarded all the packs that don’t meet your needs. The resulting set of backpacks is your new shortlist.

Within that shortlist, you can now look more in-depth at the chosen bags and packs. Each will be slightly different and may or may not fit with your additional wants. Eventually you should be able to narrow it down enough to be able to make a good decision on a bag that not only meets your needs but fulfils your wants too.

In the future we will go into more detail about purchasing a new bag or pack, but for now we thought it was really important to get you guys geared up the fundamental basics you need to consider. Armed with this knowledge you now ensure that you have chosen the right bag for you.


2 thoughts on “The Backpack and Rucksack Buying Guide

  1. James - 12:48 pm 16/04/16

    Thank for sharing such a nice guideline while buying a backpack. I completely agree with you that we need to do good research before buying the suitable backpack for you. As you spent a lot of money there for a good research before buying one is the best option for anyone looking for a backpack.

  2. Simon Waltho - 11:46 pm 25/10/18

    I spent so much money on various bags and such when I should have just found this site and got a decent bag here, would have saved money in the end than trying toget the same type of stuff on [x], [y] and [z] quality bags and gear.

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