When choosing a rucksack, you should consider its primary use. A brilliant load-carrying rucksack has different features to those of a top-end travel pack. Comfort, durability and ease of use are all very important, with the relative importance depending on end use.

Packs can be broken down into four main types: alpine, bushwalking, travel and hybrid.

Alpine packs are designed for use above the snowline: they have a sleek silhouette with few pockets, offering a good centre of gravity with minimal protrusions. There are attachment points for axes, crampons and other jangly bits, and these rucksacks are usually pared back to save weight.

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Bushwalking packs have a few more pockets and features, and the big ones can be big – load-carrying here we come! These packs are ideally suited for carrying all your gear – tent, sleeping bag, stoves: the whole kit and caboodle – for long periods of time. Comfort, durability and water resistance are prime considerations.

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Travel packs are designed to be convenient while travelling as well as comfortable to carry: as a consequence they are often squatter and have multiple, larger openings, allowing easier packing and access but making them less streamlined and water resistant. They also have other features for on-the-road ease.

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Hybrids strive to offer the comfort of a bushwalking pack with the ease and extras of a travel pack. Some compromises need to be made, so these packs are usually a bit heavier, less water resistant and more expensive than a bushwalking model, although much easier to take travelling.

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And that, in a very condensed and simplistic version, is that! Try rucksacks on, read about them, borrow them and try them out – fit and comfort are individual and very important.

Daypacks

These can be broken down into two main types: big daypacks and small daypacks

Small daypacks have enough space for short outings (day hikes, commutes, trips to school) with minimal gear. They have little or no internal frame for supporting loads, and the weight is spread across the shoulder straps. Some have simple waist straps to increase stability.

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Big daypacks: these are a step up in terms of capacity and carrying comfort, and usually have a frame made from strong, flexible plastic or (in high-end models) a single, alloy frame stay. Big daypacks are perfect for extended day walks or activities such as ski touring or rockclimbing for which technical gear is needed.

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