What is a Rucksack?

Pelican Flyer  |  June 09, 2020

Thinking about upgrading your backpack? Consider the rucksack. Perhaps the word “rucksack” calls to mind some quaint, primitive pack used by a traveler from the 1800s, but the truth is that it’s actually the exact opposite. In fact, a rucksack is more like an upgraded version of your typical backpack, and it’s a lot more rugged and technical than the one you used to take to school.

Rucksack: Derived from the German word “der rücken,” which means “the back,” a rucksack is a type of backpack commonly used in outdoor applications and the military. Smaller than a standard backpack, a rucksack is usually meant for short trips or purpose-driven journeys, like day hiking or photography expeditions. It has comfortable shoulder straps for carrying heavy gear and is usually made of durable materials that are water-resistant and unlikely to rip.

If you’re looking for a rugged option that can withstand everything from hikes in inclement weather to a day of rucking — that’s when you walk with a weighted rucksack on your back to build strength and character, by the way — a rucksack backpack is a great choice.

Often, these packs are equipped with tactical features and have special compartments for fragile gear. At the same time, many have slots for laptops and are compact enough for a day of walking on campus. They’re among the most versatile cargo options you can choose, especially if you’re looking for something that translates with ease from the city to the woods.

pelican consumer blog military outdoor rucksack

What to Look for in a Rucksack

If you’re in the market for an upgraded backpack that’s tough enough to handle heavy gear, bad weather and being stuffed with heavy weights, then you’ll love the heavy-duty backpacks from Pelican. Here are some of the great features built into each one.

  • Durability. If it’s not durable, it might as well be a regular old backpack! Look for high-denier nylon (ours are made of 1000-denier nylon), as this indicates a high-weight ballistic fabric that can handle being tossed around and won’t rip or tear. Minor details like high-quality YKK zippers also indicate a durable pack.
  • Water-resistance. Whether you’re going whitewater rafting or get caught in the rain on your way to class, a water-resistant or watertight pack can help keep your gear and tech protected. If you intend to routinely take it in wet environments, consider grabbing one that has been IP (ingress protection) tested, like our U100 Urban Backpack that’s tested for performance at three feet underwater for 30 minutes. You’ll also want to look for one that is O-ring gasket sealed.
  • Impact-protected. If you plan to take your pack camping, hiking, hunting, fishing or through any airport security checkpoint, you want to make sure it’s protected against drops. Look for styles with impact-protected compartments, a crushproof structure and built-in padding to keep your fragile cargo safe and sound.
  • Comfortable. Unlike a backpacker’s pack, a rucksack isn’t generally meant to go with you on miles-long journeys for multiple days. With that being said, they are designed to hold a lot of heavy gear for hours at a time on your back, so comfort should be a top consideration. Be sure to grab a pack with comfortable, adjustable straps to support your load when you’re carting extra cargo. Features like a chest clip and hip belt can help disperse the load for even more support.

pelican consumer blog watertight heavy duty backpacks

Guaranteed for Life

Guaranteed for life — it’s our mantra. We’re sure Pelican backpacks will stand the test of time, and we believe in buying gear for life, so we back each and every pack with a lifetime guarantee. Our rugged, go-anywhere rucksack backpacks are designed with all the features you need from a bag you plan to use for the next decade or more.

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