Large Rucksacks

With larger rucksacks it’s not just about long-haul voyages: larger packs are also good for family days out, when you’re packing picnic materials plus a bunch of coats and jumpers that (with any luck) you might not even need during the day. Our buyers guide highlights some of the key things to consider when looking for the best larger capacity rucksack.




How much can it carry, and where do you put it? Some packs have one vast compartment, others as many as eight, including tiny hidden cubbyholes. Having more storage areas spreads the weight and makes it easier to find things in a hurry (assuming you can remember where you put them, of course).


Most larger packs use a buckle-closing lid and a drawcord to close the main compartment, rather than zips as used on smaller packs. This makes it easier to open the pack wide and stuff in bulky items. Some packs also allow zipped access to the main compartment from the bottom or front of the pack.


There should be side pockets for flask or bottle, and there are usually pockets in the lid. Hip-belt pockets help you access a phone or GPS easily without taking the pack off, and you may find a stretchy flap on the front for quick stashing.


At this size, most packs offer a suspended system which pushes the load away from your back, dispersing the weight and allowing air to circulate, preventing your back from getting sweaty. Some walkers feel that this affects their balance, however, and may prefer a simple padded back.


Almost all these packs have space for a hydration system. When trying them on, ask if the store can provide you with a full reservoir so you can see how it affects the weight and storage.


Shoulder straps should be well padded to prevent rubbing, but also have a degree of breathability to stop moisture buildup. Most packs have a fixed harness with straps for adjustability, but some offer a sliding harness which can expand or contract to give a perfect fit for your height.


Some larger packs have ‘basement’ compartments for storing shoes or wet gear. Often the dividing panel can be removed if you just want to extend the main compartment.




Many of these packs claim to be expandable; always check whether this means just some extra hidden pockets or a fully expandable pack – which usually means a floating lid which can be lifted up while you unfurl the bag to its fullest height, or a sack-like interior which rolls out when needed.


Seam seal tape works best as it’s waterproof, but duct tape should serve. Clean the tear inside and out, dry it and fill the pack so the fabric is at full stretch. Cut tape into a circle (to prevent it snagging and pulling off) and lay over exterior of tear. Empty the pack and apply another circle of tape to the interior. Should be good to go.


Many of these packs are sold in several lengths (and some come in a range of capacities, if you like the style but need something smaller/bigger). A good gear store will check your back length before selling you one. Alternatively, Osprey provide a handy Pack Sizer app which uses your phone’s camera to match you to one of their rucksacks.