Backpack vs Rucksack vs Daypack - What's the difference?

What's the difference between a backpack and a rucksack

Backpack vs Rucksack : What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between a backpack and a rucksack?

Simply put a backpack is a bag that can be carried on one’s back with shoulder straps. A Rucksack, can also be carried on ones back but is more commonly made out of canvas and is used in the military or for outdoor recreation. Not definitive enough? That’s because these days manufacturer’s use the terms backpack and rucksack interchangeably when labeling their products. 

What is a rucksack?

Historically a rucksack was a large bag made out of canvas with a large deep main compartment with little internal compartments. The name “rucksack” comes from the German word “Rücken” which translates to back and the word “Sack” which means bag. On the outside of the rucksack it was common to see one or two smaller pockets for storing gear as well as belts and clips for carrying sleeping bags or canteens. These bags also had shoulder straps made out of leather or canvas and were made to be carried on the user’s back.

Common rucksack attributes:

  • Large main compartment that is accessed from the top
  • Smaller pockets on outside front
  • Belts and loops for carrying sleeping bags, canteens and other items on the outside of the bag.

What is a daypack?

A daypack is a smaller backpack that is used for carrying daily essentials. Unlike a backpack or rucksack, a daypack it’s not meant to be large enough for overnight stays or long trips.

Common daypack attributes

  • Small and lightweight (as compared to a backpack)
  • Usually has a pocket for a water bottle (if it’s a hiking daypack)