Rucksacks Types and Sizes

Day sacks: (up to 25 liters)
These sacks should be big enough to carry a few items for summer walking, such as map, compass, food and drink, pen knife, simple first aid/ blister kit, camera etc. They usually have a simple, lightweight carrying system, with little or no padding or stiffening in the back and plain shoulder straps.

Climbing Day sacks (up to 20 to 45 liters)
Because of the need to carry a number of fairly bulky items these sacks usually have a single compartment with an additional lid pocket. Compression/accessory straps are useful for carrying extra equipment to the base of a route, and for reducing the size of the sack to keep the weight close to the wearer’s back when climbing. Twin Ice axe carrying loops and crampon patches are necessary for Alpine or Winter climbing. The back systems are fairly simple, probably with basic padding and support.

Larger Walking / Backpacking Sacks
If staying overnight in a youth hostel or bed and breakfast a little extra equipment is needed, as well as some extra food, so a 45 to 65 liters sack should be used. For backpacking a tent, sleeping bag, stove, food, fuel etc., will be carried, a sack of 65 to 75 liters is generally regarded as the best size. Remember that for winter use increased space and additional features may be required. The extra weight being carried means that a stiffened back is needed for the sack to be a comfortable shape. A more sophisticated carrying system is used to transfer much of the weight to the hips to reduce excessive loading on the shoulders and down the spine. These sacks will often have two main compartments, although the dividing shelf may be removable to enable the sack to be used as a single compartment sack.

Large Mountaineering Sacks (up to 70 to 85 liters)
For scrambling, non-technical snow climbing, glacier crossing, or ski-mountaineering, rucksacks are made with a combination of features from both climbing and backpacking sacks. They are designed for carrying big loads on fairly easy ground so they have a backpacking style carrying system whereby much of the weight is taken on the hips rather than the shoulders. Generally they have a choice of single or double main compartment with a removable divider, combined with a compressible side pocket system and some form of extension to the main compartment, which gives them the option of a large carrying capacity. The straight sides, compression/accessory straps, and a multiple ice axe and crampon attachment straps are useful for carrying big loads on fairly easy ground on expeditions etc.

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