The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Backpacks

Backpacks are as common an item as any. Every other person on the street seems to be wearing. And given their useful practicality, it’s no surprise either. Depending on your daily routine and the hobbies or work activities you partake in every day, a backpack might just be as important a purchase as shoes. In that case, it is only fair that you thoroughly research the world of backpacks before making a decision.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Backpack

The Importance of Choosing the Right BackpackBackpacks have one key feature; carrying things for you. That general commonality might make it seem that any kind of backpack is indistinguishable from the rest. Though there is a modicum of truth to that, simply because any backpack you choose will have space for your items, it is also a very false allegation to presume. There are many different types of backpacks out there, and each type has its own pros and cons and is better suited for some specific use.


Backpacks are the most commonly thought of form of packs when someone hears the terms ‘backpack’ or ‘bag’. Backpacks have all the usual bells and whistles that a person expects from them; two shoulder straps for carrying them and multiple large and small pockets to fit your items into. You should get a generic backpack if you plan to use it for multiple different reasons every day, or every few days. So if you want something for school, hitting the gym, and just going around town in general, a backpack will do you fine.


DaypacksWhen people look at daypacks, all they see are common backpacks. That is because daypacks are very much like backpacks; i.e. they include the shoulder straps and the multiple pockets, but they differ in that they are smaller and more compact than usual backpacks. Whereas a backpack might be bulkier and feature multiple pockets on the back, a daypack will be much more sleek, compact, and feature less pockets and more even surfaces. Daypacks are intended for people who plan to use them for one thing only, like going to school or going around town.


RucksacksRucksacks, much like daypacks, are thought to be backpacks by most people who see them. However, unlike daypacks, a rucksack is usually a larger version of a backpack. Rucksacks are less sleekly designed than backpacks – an aesthetic choice that appeals to some people – and feature much more space than your traditional backpack. Some rucksacks have tons of pockets, while others have less but much more spacious pockets. Rucksacks also usually have a buckled flap on the top instead of the usual zipper found on backpacks and daypacks. A rucksack is for you if you plan to carry a lot of stuff around with you every day.


If you’re the sort of person that throws everything in haphazardly and likes to rough it out in the wild, or at least go camping, a knapsack might just be the thing for you. Knapsacks, like backpacks, have shoulder straps. Knapsacks, unlike backpacks, have only one very spacious pouch. They also have a buckled flap on the top like a rucksack, and are usually made of weather-resistant material, hence useful for people who spend a lot of time outdoors.

Drawstring Bags

If you’re looking for a cheap and extremely simplistic bag for running short errands or carrying around a small amount of possessions for short amounts of time, a drawstring bag might be the right choice for you. Made of a thin, loose material, drawstring bags need to have their tops closed by tightening the cord that also functions as shoulder straps. Some drawstring bags also feature an additional pocket or two that includes a zipper. Drawstring bags are not recommended for long periods of time due to the uncomfortable nature of the straps, and are also not ideal for long periods of time outdoors as the pouch hole is never properly sealed and can let in water if it rains. Nevertheless, for a lightweight and compact experience, a drawstring bag is a pretty good choice.

Fanny Packs

Fanny Packs
If you’re looking for a non-intrusive bag to help you carry a few things like your smartphone or your wallet, a fanny pack (also called a waist bag) is an ideal choice. A fanny pack is worn around the waist and has one or more pockets. It is usually pretty small, and can be ignored by the wearer for the majority of the time. Fanny packs are ideal for long periods of use, as they are more comfortable than your pockets might be and can also be removed at a moment’s notice for when you wish to sit or lie down.

Laptop Bags

Laptop bags are one of the more commonly used types of bags. They are immensely popular among college students simply because of the fact that they allow for easy carrying of their laptops. Laptop bags can come in two different types. The first type is the one that resembles a backpack. This type of laptop bag is basically a backpack, but with an added laptop compartment. The inclusion of the laptop compartment is enough to warrant a separate classification as the compartment is designed to keep laptops safe, usually through padding around the slot. The second type of laptop bag is a much smaller one, and has one long shoulder strap and hangs a bit lower than a traditional backpack. This type of laptop bag doesn’t have much space for anything other than a laptop and its required accessories, and is recommended if your whole day revolves around just your laptop and nothing else.

Frame / Backpacking Backpack

If a knapsack wasn’t enough for you, a backpacking backpack might be perfect. These backpacks are made with two things in mind; long periods of wear and storing a lot of things. These backpacks are highly recommended for people who like to go on frequent hiking trips, like to go camping a lot, and travel the world. Not only will these huge backpacks store most items you take along with you, their ergonomically designed shoulder straps will help you wear them all day long every day without even realizing. Another type of these backpacks features a single diagonal strap rather than two vertical ones. Whichever type you settle for is completely dependent on which type you find to be more comfortable.

Duffle Bag Backpacks

If you like the look of a duffle bag and wish you could make it into a backpack, the duffle bag backpacks have you covered. Essentially a duffle bag but with two shoulder straps instead, these backpacks are spacious, durable, and look unique. For your duffle bag fantasies, this is the backpack for you.


That about covers the most prominent types of backpacks out there, and almost certainly helped you find the type of backpack you are looking for. Before your purchase, make sure to read up on the backpack that catches your fancy; make sure it has good reviews and is durable, and also that it is as comfortable to wear as the pictures might make it seem. If you’re buying it in person, all the better, as you can test it right then and there and decide for yourself if it suits you well. And of course, carefully evaluate your needs before making a purchase to ensure you buy something you will actually use and be benefitted by.