The Most Useful Rucksacks for Every Use

If you’re looking to replace your tired old backpack or a smaller sling bag with a sturdy new rucksack, it’s important to begin with understanding the differences between the two items. While all rucksacks are technically backpacks, rucksacks are generally based on traditional military or outdoorsman’s specifications, making them an excellent choice for outdoor recreation and sports like climbing, canoeing, and hunting. This is thanks to their heavy-duty materials like twill canvas and high-denier tarpaulin, and handy additional features like MOLLE systems and canteen clips.

Still, even once you know what it is you’re looking for, there are a great many rucksacks on offer out there to choose between. This handy list compiles some of the best on the market, with a great range of variants available, from sturdy military packs to everyday commuter rucks to boxy canoe packs that sport traditional, time-tested designs. And for those with something a little more niche in mind, you’ll find some handpicked, high-quality options just below.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS


BEST MILITARY

Pretty much everyone in the know agrees that the ALICE pack is the ultimate military rucksack, and MT Store’s modern variant is a great option for those who want a consumer version of this all-American staple. A massive beast of a pack with 50 litres of storage capacity, this is no everyday item. It includes three utility pouches and three ammunition pockets, making it great for hunting and hiking. A rigid metal frame provides extra stability if you’re filling it to the brim. It’s completely waterproof thanks to its blend of nylon and Oxford fabric and just as durable today as it was fifty years ago.

BEST CASUAL

If you’re looking for an affordable and casual option, the REI Co-Op Ruckpack is an excellent pick. This 18-litre pack is great for both hiking and everyday use, with a water bottle pocket and a 15” laptop sleeve included. It also comes with a sternum strap to balance weight on longer trips and a hidden daisy chain for attaching extra gear and equipment to your pack. Perfect for a weekend of camping or simply the morning commute, this is a high-fidelity, low-budget pick.

BEST CANVAS

Frost River’s Cliff Jacobson Signature Pack isn’t just one of the best canvas options on this list, and it’s one of the best rucksacks you’ll find full-stop. This sturdy hiking pack is based on classic canoe box-packs worn by the craftsmen, trappers, and miners of old-world America, and its materials reflect these time-honoured sensibilities. A waxed cotton canvas outer keeps the rain at bay, while leather straps combine with solid brass buckles for secure flap-top closure. While handy 2-in-1 side pockets and an internal zippered pocket add some bells and whistles, what you’re getting here is a simple, sturdy, premium-quality rucksack that’ll last you years and years to come.

BEST WATERPROOF

A waterproof rucksack doesn’t have to be boring to be good, and the Topo Designs Klettersack proves this with its fun yet functional design. A mid-sized 25-litre pack that’s great for both days in the city and hikes in the outdoors, the Klettersack is a great pick for mixed usage scenarios. Its high-density Cordura outer makes it 100% waterproof, and the leather lash tabs across the pack allow you to tighten things up and keep all your gear extra-protected from the elements. Plus, the Klettersack looks fantastic, with a quirky vintage design available in 5 high-visibility colourways.

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT

A lightweight pack is a must if you’re heading out on a long hike or speeding down the bike lane daily, and the Timbuk2 Launch Pack is one of the lightest you’ll find. At just 1 lb 5 oz., it’s light as a feather when unloaded, and it sports a serviceable 18 litres of storage at full capacity. This pack is an excellent pick for commuters and day-trip hikers alike. Stylish and functional, with dual side pockets and a 13” interior laptop sleeve, this pack’s shoulder strap is equipped with a daisy chain system, allowing you to add accessories and attachments based on your individual needs.


1. Fjällräven No. 21 Rucksack 

Fjällräven No. 21 Rucksack

This sturdy, lightweight rucksack from Fjällräven is a great pick for everyday usage with a casual look that perfectly suits students and young professionals. Available in three colorways ranging from dark olive to navy blue, this 20-litre rucksack also comes with a padded laptop pocket and a slot for holding a thermos or water bottle. The pack uses a clever strap and nub closure system, giving you a little extra room when overstuffing or tightening things up when packing light.

Key Features

  • Three colourways available
  • Strap and nub closure
  • Padded laptop pocket
  • Removable seat pad

Specifications

  • Capacity: 20 L
  • Materials: Waxed Polyester/Cotton blend outer, Leather straps

2. DSPTCH Ruckpack 

DSPTCH Ruckpack

This super durable rucksack from DSPTCH combines high-grade military rucksack materials like ballistic nylon with modern conveniences, including a laptop sleeve and zippered pockets for a rugged, technical everyday pack. With a 25 litre capacity, it’s great for both daily commutes and mid-length hikes, and its waterproof qualities make it right at home on both city streets and rainy slopes. With a strikingly modern aesthetic, this is a great contemporary spin on army rucksacks of old.

Key Features

  • Five colourways available
  • Extendable drawstring top
  • 16” laptop sleeve
  • External zippered pockets
  • USA-Made

Specifications

  • Capacity: 25 L
  • Materials: Ballistic Nylon, Duraflex hardware, Nylon webbing

3. 5.11 RUSH24 Military Backpack 

5.11 RUSH24 Military Backpack

A hefty military rucksack with a bevy of clever features built-in, the 5.11 RUSH24 is a great pick for anyone looking for a large-capacity, mid-budget option. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here despite the higher-than-average asking price, as this fantastic equipment bag includes an extensive MOLLE system along with a variety of handy pockets and dual-way zippers. Hook and loop patches offer the option for extra visibility or identification badges, while a bumper 37-litre capacity makes this a great pick for extended operations and cross-country hikes.

Key Features

  • Seven colourways available
  • Dual zippered side pockets
  • Extensive MOLLE system
  • Hook and loop badge patch

Specifications

  • Capacity: 37 L
  • Materials: 1050D Nylon

4. Millican ‘Fraser The Rucksack’

Millican ‘Fraser The Rucksack’

A stylish evolution of old-fashioned hiking rucksacks, the Millican ‘Fraser the Rucksack’ is a relatively large 32-litre pack focusing on adaptability. This bag uses a clever flap and drawstring design to make for a weatherproof top. It compensates for its added security with two easy-access hip pockets and a pair of large exterior buckle pockets. The padded hip belt is designed to provide extra comfort on long hikes, and the 17” laptop sleeve adds additional flexibility for city use.

Key Features

  • Three colorways available
  • Secure drawstring closure
  • Padded hip belt
  • Two zippered hip pockets
  • 17” laptop sleeve

Specifications

  • Capacity: 32 L
  • Materials: Recycled polyester, Aluminum buckles, Leather trim

5. Mission Workshop The Sanction 

Mission Workshop The Sanction

This high-fashion offering from Mission Workshop brings something a little different to the table, with an understated yet eye-catching design in a pair of dark colorway options. This is a mid-sized pack at 20 litres, so it’s more suited to city use than long journeys, but it can take some heavy gear without buckling, thanks to an internal frame sheet. A 15” laptop sleeve is included, too, making it a great pick for office workers, students, and digital nomads alike.

Key Features

  • Black or Gray colorways are available
  • Four internal pockets
  • Frame sheet
  • 15” laptop sleeve

Specifications

  • Capacity: 20 L
  • Materials: 1000D Nylon

6. RAINS Rolltop Rucksack 

RAINS Rolltop Rucksack

Available in matte black or blue colourways, this waterproof rucksack from RAINS uses a traditional rolltop design to keep up to 18 litres of gear clean and dry. It’s based on classic cycling backpacks and uses polyurethane and polyester in its outer to keep the wind and rain at bay. A bike lock loop is included for your convenience, along with an internal 15” laptop sleeve.

Key Features

  • Black or Blue colourways are available
  • Rolltop closure
  • Waterproof outer and zippers
  • Bike lock loop

Specifications

  • Capacity: 18 L
  • Materials: Polyurethane, Polyester

7. Goruck Rucker 3.0 

Goruck Rucker 3.0

The Rucker 3.0 from Goruck is a robust 20-litre men’s and women’s rucksack with a lightweight, technical design. Based on typical military specifications, this rucksack is nice and compact despite its generous carrying capacity, and it comes equipped with multiple strips of MOLLE webbing along with a rigid internal frame sheet. An interior D-ring and hydration port allow for extra functionality on the go, and an external slant pocket gives you easy access to your most-used items in moments.

Key Features

  • Four colourways available
  • MOLLE webbing
  • Frame sheet
  • External slant pocket

Specifications

  • Capacity: 20 L
  • Materials: Cordura fabric, EVA foam padding

8. Chrome Barrage Cargo Backpack 

Chrome Barrage Cargo Backpack

With a sophisticated 5-point cargo net system and a welded waterproof liner, the Chrome Barrage Cargo backpack is an excellent choice for those carrying canteens, camping gear, and climbing equipment, along with cyclists who need somewhere to hang one or two bike locks. The tech-fashion approach pays off well here, with a waterproof outer that sports a future-forward aesthetic and added comfort provided by an additional sternum strap.

Key Features

  • Seven colourways available
  • Rolltop closure
  • Sternum strap
  • Welded waterproof liner

Specifications

  • Capacity: 22 L
  • Materials: Nylon, 100D Tarp

9. Filson Rucksack 

Filson Rucksack

Filson’s classic canvas rucksack might be pricy, but it’s an iconic design built from really high-quality materials that’ll still be as sturdy as ever even ten years down the line. This 21-litre bag is a staple choice of adventurers everywhere for a good reason, thanks to its rugged twill outer and bridle leather straps, each of which are complemented by brass zippers and accents. Filson’s packs are all USA-made and use seam binding for added waterproofing and a sleek aesthetic. On top of all that, this modern edition includes a 15” laptop sleeve within the bag’s interior.

Key Features

  • It fits 15” laptops
  • Two outer compartments
  • Seam binding
  • USA-Made

Specifications

  • Capacity: 21 L
  • Materials: Twill outer, Bridle leather straps, Brass zippers

10. Filson Ranger Backpack 

Filson Ranger Backpack

Another great mid-budget option from Filson, the Ranger, is a little larger than their classic pack at 27 litres, with a 17” laptop sleeve and an interior stow pocket as well. Available in black or tan colourways, the Ranger sports a tall design with a twill canvas and tin cloth outer. Inside, you’ll find a cotton lining designed to keep your gear safe from the elements and a drawcord/buckle closure combo that ensures no rain can ever make its way inside.

Key Features

  • Black or Tan colourways are available
  • Drawcord top closure
  • Interior stow pocket
  • 17” laptop sleeve

Specifications

  • Capacity: 27 L
  • Materials: Twill canvas, Tin cloth, Cotton lining

11. REI Co-Op Ruckpack 

REI Co-Op Ruckpack

REI Co-Op is well-known for its affordable hiking gear, and their Ruckpack camping rucksack is another great addition to their range. Available in 4 colourways, this mid-sized 18-litre rucksack is the ideal choice for campers heading out for a night or two at a time, and it’s got some great features like an easy-access side panel and hydration port that make it a strong pick for long, challenging treks. A sternum strap and removable waistbelt provide some added comfort, and a hidden daisy chain allows you to hang carabiners and canteens from the bag easily.

Key Features

  • Four colourways available
  • Hidden daisy chain
  • Sternum strap
  • Water bottle pocket

Specifications

  • Capacity: 18 L
  • Materials: Recycled Ripstop Nylon

12. Koru Waxed Rucksack 

Koru Waxed Rucksack

This classic rolltop canvas rucksack from Tanner Goods is a stylish storage solution for those packing plenty of gear. With a bumper 34 litre capacity, there’s plenty of room for a weekend’s worth of clothes along with a sleeping bag and a raincoat. This rucksack also features extra pockets, including a 15” laptop sleeve for when you’re taking the pack out in the city. Made from thick waxed canvas, this heavy-duty bag easily stands up to even heavy rain, and the two-way zippers on the roll-top give it some extra weatherproofing while maintaining ease-of-access.

Key Features

  • Roll-top closure
  • Full-length, two-way zippers
  • Front pocket
  • 15” laptop sleeve

Specifications

  • Capacity: 34 L
  • Materials: Waxed canvas, Nylon webbing, English bridle leather

13. RAINS Rucksack 

RAINS Rucksack

This mini pack from RAINS marries a minimalist aesthetic with high-quality materials for an affordable and fashionable lightweight rucksack. It’s a great pick for city-dwellers and students alike with a 15” laptop sleeve and a simple buckle closure. Three colourways are available, including beige taupe and agate green, and the elegant sheen of the polyurethane upper makes for an eye-catching look – especially in the rain.

Key Features

  • Three colourways available
  • Front buckle closure
  • Waterproof fabric
  • 15” laptop sleeve

Specifications

  • Capacity: 11 L
  • Materials: Polyurethane, Polyester

14. Herschel Little America Backpack 

Herschel Little America Backpack

Herschel is beloved worldwide for its classic student backpacks, and Little America is one of its most iconic designs. With a zippered outer pocket and a simple clipping top flap, this is a super-functional bag that knows what it’s about. The 17-litre capacity is perfect for students and city dwellers, and a 15” laptop sleeve is also built into the design. On top of this, you’ll find Herschel’s signature striped lining inside, adding a twist of flamboyant flair to this bespoke rucksack.

Key Features

  • Striped lining
  • Zippered outer pocket
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • 15” laptop sleeve

Specifications

  • Capacity: 17 L
  • Materials: Polyester, Nylon, Leather straps

15. MT Store Military ALICE Pack 

MT Store Military ALICE Pack

Look no further than the MT Store ALICE pack if you’re after for a real beast of an army rucksack. Based on the US military’s ALICE combat packs used in the Vietnam war, this massive 50-litre rucksack includes three outer utility pouches and three ammunition pouches alongside a huge inner compartment. All of this is supported by a removable rigid frame, with nylon lining and Oxford fabric used in the pack’s outer to make the whole thing waterproof and weather-resistant. The ALICE is truly the juggernaut of the rucksack world, a perfect choice for those taking on inclement weather and cross-country hikes.

Key Features

  • Four variants available
  • Rigid frame
  • Three outer utility pouches
  • Three outer ammunition pockets

Specifications

  • Capacity: 50 L
  • Materials: Nylon lining, Oxford fabric, Metal frame

16. Timbuk2 Launch Pack 

Timbuk2 Launch Pack

This super lightweight rucksack from Timbuk2 is an excellent pick for cyclists and pedestrians alike, with an 18-litre storage capacity at just 1 lb. 5 oz. of weight. Great for taking out for daily usage, whether you’re in the office or working outdoors, the Launch Pack is both weatherproof and convenient. It comes with MOLLE-equipped shoulder straps, dual side pockets, and a 13” laptop pocket, and it’s available in golden, graphite, or ginger colourways.

Key Features

  • Three colourways available
  • 13” laptop sleeve
  • Dual side pockets
  • MOLLE shoulder straps

Specifications

  • Capacity: 18 L
  • Materials: Nylon

17. Topo Designs Klettersack 

Topo Designs Klettersack

From Topo Designs comes the fun and functional Klettersack, a mid-size 25-litre hiking rucksack that looks just as at home in the city as it does up in the hills. This fully adjustable pack comes with a comprehensive buckle and strap system for tightening up or loosening down, depending on your needs. It also includes two side water bottle pockets and even an ice axe loop! With a Cordura fabric upper, it’s sure to keep the weather off, while handy leather lash tabs keep your stuff nice and secure.

Key Features

  • Five colourways available
  • Side water bottle pockets
  • Ice axe loop
  • USA-Made

Specifications

  • Capacity: 25 L
  • Materials: Cordura fabric, Plastic hardware, Leather lash tabs

18. Frost River Cliff Jacobson Signature Pack 

Frost River Cliff Jacobson Signature Pack

Frost River makes some of the most beautiful hiking packs around, and this waxed cotton and leather rucksack is one of their best. The Cliff Jacobson is a sturdy 17.3-litre canoe pack designed to supplement a larger pack while hiking or wear as a solo item in everyday environments. It sports a large top flap closure with premium Red Wing leather straps and solid brass buckles, along with two large outer side pockets. Beautiful and practical, this is a truly bespoke outdoorsman’s pack and a worthwhile purchase for any budding adventurer.

Key Features

  • Large flap closure
  • Internal zippered pocket
  • Premium Red Wing leather
  • 2-in-1 side pockets

Specifications

  • Capacity: 17.3 L
  • Materials: Waxed cotton canvas, Leather, Solid brass

19. Goruck GR2 Shooter

Goruck GR2 Shooter

Available for pre-order in advance of a late 2021 release, the Goruck GR2 Shooter is a variation of their classic medium rucksack design with one key extra feature: a customizable interior. Along with the exterior MOLLE system, the GR2 also sports internal Velcro panels that allow you to fit accessories inside the bag and on the outside, allowing a degree of privacy that few other rucksacks offer. Meanwhile, all the classic elements of Goruck’s older packs are still here, including a high-density Cordura outer, interior D-ring, and comfortable compression straps, making it a great rucksack for activities like hiking and hunting.

Key Features

  • Three colourways available
  • Four variant configurations
  • MOLLE webbing
  • Rainproof exterior
  • Customizable interior

Specifications

  • Capacity: 34 L
  • Materials: Cordura fabric, Elastic, Mesh

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