Types of Backpacks: Features and Uses

Whether you need to carry, your laptop, clothes, camera, traveling, or outdoor gear, there is no better option than backpacks.  Backpacks are the essential need of everyone from athletes and students to travelers and professionals because they are lightweight, simple, comfortable, and handy.

There are many types of backpacks. Each one is specifically designed and made to serve different functions raging from general to niche.

Different Kinds of Backpacks and Their uses and Features

There are different types of backpacks for different occasions and purposes. So describing the features and uses of different kinds of backpacks will help you in finding the perfect backpacks for your needs.

1. Daypack    

different types of backpacks-hydration-backpack

Daypacks are small and lightweight bags that have enough capacity for carrying a day’s worth of gear. Daypacks have a single main compartment, few pockets, shoulder straps, and sometimes a hip belt.

Daypacks are made from leather, canvas, polyester, and nylon. The capacity range of daypacks is 20-40 liters or 1200-2500 cubic inches. Daypacks are usually ideal for activities like a short tour, day hiking, school, day climbing, daily commutes, beach days, and urban adventures. Daypack is also one among different types of backpacks for school.

2. Climbing Backpack

types of backpacks-climbing-backpack

Important features of the climbing backpacks are gear loops, shoe compartment, chalk bag, quickdraws, and rope trap. Climbing backpacks come in top-loading or front-loading design which allows you easy access to gear.

Climbing backpacks are often made of Dyneem, rip stop nylon, or Cordura. As there are different types of climbing, therefore, there are different kinds of backpacks for climbing. Climbing backpacks come in different sizes. A thirty liters backpack is suitable for day mission alpine climbing while sixty liters is suitable for a week. 

3. Drawstring Backpack

types of backpacks-drawstring-bag

Drawstring backpacks are simple, single compartment backpack with drawstring for closing the top opening. These kinds of backpacks are durable, but not comfortable for carrying heavy load.

Drawstring backpacks are made of natural materials such as cotton or canvas and man-made material such as polyester, polypropylene, or vinyl. Drawstring backpacks come in the capacity range of 10-25 litters.

Drawstring backpack can be used as a beach, sport, gym, and school bag. It is the best option for people who need an extra pack for carrying clothes or shoes.

4. Hiking/trekking Backpack

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Hiking/trekking backpacks have a spacious main compartment, padded shoulder straps, hip belt, lid closure, sternum straps, multiple pockets and loops, hydration reservoir, or pockets for keeping water bottles. These backpacks are made of durable and ripstop fabric mostly from a variety of coated nylons and polyesters.

There are two types of backpacks for hiking, frameless and frame. The frameless backpacks are lightweight and suitable for ultralight hiking such as day hike. Frame hiking backpacks have an inside frame which enables these backpacks to stand upright. Frame backpacks are large and suitable for long hiking or trekking. Choosing the right size hiking backpack is completely depends on the type of your hiking and trekking.

5. Dry bag backpack

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The dry bag backpack is usually made of durable, waterproof material such as sturdy nylon that is coated with thermoplastic polyurethane. Large dry bag backpacks have padded shoulder straps, waist belt, sternum strap, external mesh pockets for wet gear, and loops for gear.

Dry bag backpacks are used in a variety of scenarios. These backpacks come in different sizes from 15 liters for cycling, commuting to 120 liters for long travel or backpacking in the wilderness.

You can use a dry bag backpack in the downpour for a variety of activities ranging from daily commuting to an outdoor adventure. It is also ideal for fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, boating, and canoeing.

6. Hydration Backpack

many types of backpacks-hydration-backpack

Hydration backpack is designed to make convenient transporting and drinking of water. It has a hydration reservoir which consists of a plastic or rubber bladder with a long tube connected to the shoulder strap.

Hydration backpack comes in different sizes with 1, 2, or 3 liters space of hydration reservoir for carrying water. It is ideal for hikers, climbers, runners, and cyclists because it keeps you hydrated without stopping your activity. It is ergonomic, comfortable, and also has space for carrying your belongings.

7. Haversack

types of crosbody bags-haversack

Haversack is a small, lightweight backpack shaped bag with a single shoulder strap and single main compartment. Unlike a backpack, haversack is worn over the shoulder or across the body. Haversack offers easy access to items inside it because it can be easily taken on and off than a backpack. Haversack was originally made of canvas, but now it is made of various materials. It usually comes in a capacity range of 10 to 25 liters.

Haversack is a poor choice for carrying a heavy load and often used for carrying a small amount of supplies. Traditionally haversack was used by military, hunters, and mountain men. The children can use it as a school bag and biologist for field studies.  

8. Laptop Backpacks

types of backpacks-laptop-backpack

These types of backpacks have padded separate sleeve for laptop. The padded sleeve protects laptop from shocks and spills.  The sleeve for the laptop can be internal, external, or even removable. Laptop backpacks come in different sizes ranging from 20-50 liters.

Laptop backpacks are most commonly daypacks but different types of backpacks for travelling also have laptop sleeve. Backpacking backpacks and different types of backpacks for hiking also have laptop compartment. The thick padding of the sleeve for laptop is the most important feature of laptop backpacks. Choosing a laptop backpack the size of your laptop and sleeve size should be kept in mind. 

9. Knapsack

all types of backpack-knapsack

Knapsack is a German word. Knap means bite and sack means bag. Therefore, it means a strong and durable bag. It has a specific design which is the combination of rucksack and drawstring pack. It has a cylindrical shaped single compartment, flap on the top opening, and drawstrings for closing the top main opening.

Knapsack is made of durable material that can withstand the constant use. It is smaller and has fewer pockets than a backpack. It is perfect for inclement days and can be used as a gym and school bag.

10. Cycling Backpack

all types of backpack-cycling-backpack

Cycling backpack is often made of waterproof materials such as PVC, nylon, polyester, and TPU. Cycling backpack has a large pocket for tools, reflective patches for night-time visibility, attachment loops for lights and locks, and sometimes also has a padded sleeve for laptop or other electronics. It fits snugly and does not limit your movement.

Cycling backpack is the ideal bag for riders who need to carry stuff on their bikes. Cycling backpacks come in sizes of 10-30 liters, bigger than 30 liters may be inconvenient.  

11. Overnight Backpack


Overnight backpack has enough capacity for keeping personal essentials and clothing for an overnight trip. In structure it is similar to a regular backpack, but has extra slots and pockets.

Overnight backpack is one of the ideal types of backpacks for travelling, overnight hiking, climbing, and backpacking. It is often made of ripstop nylon or DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabric). It comes in the capacity range of 30-50 liters. Less than 35 liter overnight backpack has enough capacity for storing gear and food for one or two nights. An overnight backpack of 35-50 liters is enough for carrying a small tent, sleeping bag, pad, extra clothes, and food for two to three night outdoor adventure.

12. Packable Backpack

different types of backpacks-pack-able backpack

Packable backpack is a lightweight and simple backpack. It has shoulder straps and a single main compartment. It is highly compressible therefore you can store it in your main luggage when not required and can unpack and put into action when you need it.  

Packable backpack is made of nylon and comes in sizes ranging from 5 liters to 20 liters. It is not suitable for carrying heavy loads because of minimal padding. If you are a one-bag traveler, hiker, climber, or backpacker, a packable backpack is an ideal spare bag to stash inside your luggage.

13. Rucksack

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Typically rucksack is a large, rugged backpack with a specific design. It has a hip belt, chest strap, compression straps, external chips, and hooks. Rucksack has more pockets and loops than a regular backpack. Compression straps allow you to compress your pack when it is not full and load moving around.

Usually Rucksacks don’t have a zippered closure and the main single opening is normally tied or cinched. The big front pocket of rucksack is handy for stashing jackets, food, or other essential items.

Rucksack is often made of durable material such as waxed, canvas, or a technical material that allows you to carry more loads easily.  Medium rucksack from 35-50 liters is one of the ideal types of backpacks for hiking, overnight trips, and camping. A large rucksack 50+ liters, is the perfect types of backpacks for traveling, backpacking and expeditions.

14. Snowsport Backpacks

types of backpacks-snowboard-backpack

Snowsport Backpacks are designed to carry skis or snowboards. The important features of these kinds of backpacks are padded, sternum strap and adjustable shoulder straps, hip belt, specifically designed attachment points for carrying skis or snowboards, a spot for the helmet, and a safe pocket for safety equipment. The back supporting features of these backpacks offer maximum comfort and evenly distribute weight.

Snowsport backpack fits snugly, offers maximum back support and does not limit your movement. It is designed to be lightweight because no one wants to carry a heavy backpack on the slopes. It is made of snow repellent fabric to prevent your gear inside the bag from getting wet. It often comes in a capacity range of 20-30 liters.

15. Tote Backpack

types of handbags-tote-backpack

Tote backpack is the combination of a tote bag and backpack. It is a tote shaped backpack with two shoulder straps for carrying on the back and two long handles for carrying in hand or over the shoulder. Like tote bag, it widely opens which allows you easy access to the items in the backpack.  It often has a single main compartment, two side pockets, and one or two front pockets.

Tote backpacks are made of different materials such as cotton, canvas, polyester, polypropylene, and nylon. These backpacks serve the purpose as an easy carryall. Tote Backpack is among different types of backpacks for school, gym, picnic, beach, and traveling.

16. Tactical Backpack

types of backpacks-tactical-backpack

Tactical backpacks are highly durable and robust heavy-duty backpacks. They are made of dense material fabric which makes it unique from other backpacks. Its storing capacity allows you to survive a rugged environment. Tactical backpacks are larger than normal backpacks. The multi compartments and pockets help you in staying organized.

Tactical backpacks are types of military backpacks. These kinds of backpacks are often used by military and law enforcement personals for carrying their tactical gear. Tactical backpacks are also among the suitable types of backpacks for travelling and outdoor adventures.

17. Travel Backpack

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Types of backpacks for travelling are often boxier in shape. The boxier suitcase shape allows you to easily pack and use the entire room in your backpack. Different kinds of backpacks for traveling have multiple zippered compartments which make it easy to access your essentials and stay organized. Unlike suitcases the soft sides and compressing straps of the backpack allow you to compress and store it in any place such as overhead bins in train, plane, or bus.

Types of backpacks for traveling are often made of all weather-proofed material that prevents your valuable from all kinds of weather conditions. They come in small, medium, and large sizes.

18. TSA Friendly backpack

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TSA (Transportation Security Administration) friendly backpack is a carry on backpack with TSA friendly laptop compartment. The laptop compartment unfolds completely to lie flat on the X-ray belt. The laptop compartment does not have any metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on top. The laptop compartment can be used only for keeping a laptop and it doesn’t have any pockets. TSA friendly backpacks come in sizes ranging from 20-40 liters. TSA friendly backpack is one of the best types of bags for air travel.

19. Work Backpack

all types of backpacks-laptop-backpack

A work backpack is both useful and sleek. It has multi pockets and compartments for carrying essential items such as notepad, pen, diary, sunglasses, handwash, papers, keys, wipes, and food. It also has a padded compartment for carrying a laptop or other electronics. The several internal pockets are used for keeping valuable such as wallet and business cards. It looks professional with the same swagger as a briefcase. 

Work backpacks, like work shoes, are made of tough materials that can’t be easily ripped or torn. Work backpack is often made of nylon, polyester, and leather. It often comes in U-shape and capacity range of 20-30 liters. You can also use your work backpack as traveling backpack.

20. Anti-theft Backpack

types of backpacks-anti-theft-backpack

Anti-theft backpacks are specifically designed to protect your precious stuff from pilferers. The main features of these kinds of backpacks are locks on pullers, compression straps over zippers, hidden zippers and zipper pullers, RFID blocking pockets and secret invisible pockets for keeping valuables such as wallet, passport, and cards.

Additionally, anti-theft backpacks are made of strong anti-slash material that cannot be cut or ripped, like ripstop nylon embedded with steel mesh. These backpacks are ideal types of backpacks for traveling safe and secure traveling and really help out travel anxiety sufferers.


Backpack is lightweight, secure, comfortable and handy. Therefore, it has become the essential need of everyone from athletes and students to travelers and professionals. There are different types of backpacks to accommodate your personal and professional needs. Each one is specifically designed and made to serve different functions raging from general to niche. A wrong backpack can ruin your activity while the right one can turn minimalist activity into veritable camels. Therefore, it is completely dependent upon you to determine your requirements and criterion for the backpack you need and choose the right one that accommodates your needs.

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