6 Types of Backpack Explained

Mizo backpacks men climbing a mountain with roll top type of backpack on his shoulders

Photo credit: filipsbaumanis

There are so many backpack types around the market, that it's easy to get lost. I feel a duty to explain to them a bit. Before you move on researching the best materials, innovations in a backpack manufacturing industry or reading lifestyle magazines of what’s trendy in the backpack market, you need to define the main goal for your backpack. Each bag usually serves its purpose. Long gone are those times, when one bag fits it all. As the old saying goes - what works for all won’t work for any. In this article, I will cover six types of the backpack that should help you to make an educated guess before doing your next purchase.

Let me highlight them all. Here are six backpack types that are currently in the market:

  • Daypack;
  • Overnight pack;
  • Multi-day backpack;
  • Expedition backpack;
  • Technical backpack;
  • Hydration backpack;

I have sorted in a particular order - do display how they build upon each other by use and expected capabilities. Let’s dive deeper and start with daypacks.

Daypack - For Everyday Use

The main use for daypacks is short trips, around-town adventures or just simple everyday use, for example, commuting to work, grocery shopping or evening picnic with the family. These bags are light and have the most essential things that are needed for easy use and great outdoors. I have experienced myself that many backpacks bring just a small daypack for a one day hike or adventure. I would suggest looking further that to daypack - if you are looking to carry food, water, and some additional layer of clothing. In average daypacks can carry 10 - 35 L and weight around 0.5 - 1 kg (1 - 2 lb). There are multiple versions of bag design: starting from a roll-top, zipper or magnetic lock secured.

If you are in a search for a Daypack, here you can take a look at Daily Commuter crafted by me at MIZO backpacks.

Mizo backpacks girl sitting and drinking coffee with roll top type of backpack

Photo credit: julianbialowas

Overnight Pack

If you are out for two to three-night - the overnight pack is a great option, it usually is large enough to carry supplies for that long time. You characterize them to be something similar between daypacks and multi-day-packs. Usually, overnight packs come with additional straps for non-standard sized objects and with extra capacity - to carry that extra jeans pair or extra t-shirt. Overnight packs are used by ultralight backpackers as well. They usually use different variations of overnight packs to reduce non-essential items for long-distance hiking. Such bag capacity usually differs from 40 - 60 L and it weighs around 1 - 1.6 kg (2 - 3.5 lb). One of the similarities with daypacks - usually they are loaded from the top.

Mizo backpacks girl walking into a forest with classic type of backpack on her shoulders

Photo credit: nickdietrich

The Classic - Multi-Day 

With backpacks, it’s simple - when you think about classic types of backpack you usually think of this kind. These bags can be loaded with supplies and usually can store from 60 - 75 L. They have a strong frame, thick, padded straps and a lot of features. Its owner will have complete control over his bag just because straps and features are adjustable and manageable. Features usually come with a price and this time its bags weight - it will vary from 1.8 - 3 kg (4 - 6 lb). Travelers whose adventure is planned to last more than five days are usually choosing this kind of bag.

Extra Long Trips With Expedition Backpack

Up for winter camping or mountaineering then expedition backpack is what you are looking for. To put it in ease - these are the same multi-day-packs but with extra capacity, usually it varies from 75 - 125 L. Here is an important note: when you are chasing your expedition backpack - you should pay attention to its capacity. That should fit your needs perfectly because it’s maximum carry weight can not exceed 40% of its owner's weight. Anything above will discomfort your trekking. Weight for expedition backpacks is usually around 1.5 - 3 kg (3 - 6 lb).

Mizo backpacks men walking on a hill with alpinism type of backpack on their shoulders

Photo credit: charlieh

Technical Backpack

These kinds of bags are usually outfitted with numerous loops and daisy chains to secure and fasted the gear. The main audience for such bags is climbing and ski trip enthusiasts. The design is slightly different from multi-day-packs. To increase its mobility - technical packs are usually narrower and taller than other bag types we have explored. They usually can store around 10 - 20 L and weight from 0.5 - 0.7 kg (1 - 1.5 lb).

Hydration Backpacks For Activists

The last type of backpack we will look at is hydration backpacks. You can tell by its name that these kinds of bags provide an alternative way to carry water supplier and a small amount of gear needed for a day trip. Usually, such bags are chosen by runners, skiers, climbers and anyone who is looking to do long distances without a need to carry a load of supplies. Bags are designed to come with a sack of water, which has a hose that runs down one shoulder strap to mouth. Capacity varies from 2 - 10 L and weight 0.5 - 1 kg (1 - 2 lb).

Mizo backpacks forest view men having waterproof type of backpack behind him

Photo credit: andrewtneel

Six backpack types are defining the market at this very moment. Some of them may serve a similar purpose, like daypacks and overnight pack, however, some, like, technical backpacks are designed for specific needs, so they have different features. It may seem overwhelming at first, but when you start diving deeper on a reason why you need a bag, it becomes more clear which type best suits your needs. After you have defined purpose it’s time to take a close look at materials, size, capacity, and features.

If you are looking for a great daypack, take a look at this bag made by me - Daily Commuter. It will store all your daily needed essentials and up to two spare t-shirts - just in case.