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Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

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A rucksack will become your best friend while you’re wild camping, which is why it’s so important to choose one that’s not only the right size but also has the right features for your needs.

Before you go ahead and buy any old rucksack, take some time to consider what you’ll be using it for and what features are essential for your specific trip. 

Are you going to be hiking a long distance before you reach your pitching spot? What size tent are you bringing? What’s the bag made of? These are all important factors to consider when choosing the right rucksack for your wild camping adventures.

To make it easier for you to figure out which rucksack is the perfect fit for you, we’ve put together a buying guide that covers everything from size to features and even packing tips.

Rucksack Capacity Recommended Use Description
Under 10L Daypacking (short hikes, commutes) Small and lightweight, ideal for carrying essentials like water, snacks, and a light jacket.
10L – 30L Daypacking (longer hikes, day trips) It is comfortable for carrying more gear on day hikes, picnics, or day trips. It can fit additional layers, food, and basic emergency supplies.
30L – 50L Overnight backpacking It is ideal for weekend backpacking trips or overnight adventures. It provides enough space for sleeping gear, clothing, food, and other essentials.
50L+ Multi-day backpacking, expeditions It has a large capacity for extended backpacking trips or expeditions. It can accommodate a full backpacking kit, including a tent, sleeping bag, and additional supplies.
Hiking friends backpacks
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

Rucksack Sizing Explained

Choosing the right rucksack size is crucial for your wild camping essentials because everything must fit on your back. 

The perfect rucksack size varies with your trip’s length and the essential gear you need. 

A weekend trip might need a 30 to 50-litre rucksack for basic gear, food, and clothes. Longer trips or those needing extra equipment, like winter clothes or more camping gear, could require a 60 to 70-litre pack.

How is Rucksack Volume Measured?
Rucksack volume is measured in litres, representing the capacity of the main compartment and any additional pockets.
This measurement gives an idea of how much gear the rucksack can hold. For accuracy, manufacturers might fill the rucksack with small balls or beads and then empty these into a graduated container to determine the volume.
This standardised measurement allows you to compare different models and sizes effectively, ensuring you can find a rucksack that fits your needs.
Hiking backpack
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

What Are the Different Types of Rucksacks?

Rucksacks can be classified into several types, each designed to serve specific needs and purposes for the outdoor enthusiast.

  • Day Packs are small and light, perfect for short trips or day hikes. They hold between 10 to 30 litres, enough for water, food, a first-aid kit, and possibly a light jacket or raincoat.
  • Backpacks/Rucksacks are the larger, tougher versions of day packs, with capacities starting at 30 litres and going up to 70 litres or more. Designed for multi-day treks, they can carry camping gear, clothes, food, and sometimes specialised equipment.
  • Travel Backpacks combine the compactness of a day pack with the capacity and organisation of a larger backpack. They often have lockable zippers and compartments for electronics designed to meet airline carry-on requirements.
  • Hydration Packs are designed with a built-in water reservoir or bladder and a hose for easy drinking on the move. These packs vary in size but focus on keeping the wearer hydrated, especially during activities like running, cycling, or long hikes in warm climates.


Each type of rucksack serves a unique purpose, catering to different kinds of outdoor activities. Choosing the right one depends on the length of your trip, the items you need to carry, and how you prefer to travel.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Wild Camping Rucksack

When it comes to buying a rucksack for your wild camping trip, there are a few essential questions you should be asking to make sure you can effectively and safely carry all your gear to and from your camp set up.

How Much Can It Carry?

Understanding your rucksack’s carrying capacity is pivotal for wild camping, as it directly impacts your comfort and mobility.

Carrying a rucksack that is too small could mean leaving essential items behind, compromising your experience and safety in the wilderness

Conversely, a rucksack that’s too large may tempt you to pack unnecessary items, leading to excess weight that can cause physical strain over time, reduce your travel distance, and ultimately detract from the enjoyment of your adventure.

Knowing how much a rucksack can carry allows for efficient packing, ensuring you have all you need without the burden of overpacking.

How Much Does it Weigh?

The weight of a rucksack, both empty and when fully packed, is a crucial consideration for any wild camping expedition.

An empty rucksack’s weight is significant because it constitutes the base weight you’ll be carrying, even before adding any gear or supplies.

A lightweight rucksack can considerably reduce your overall load, enhancing comfort and reducing fatigue over long distances.

When fully packed, the weight of the rucksack impacts your ability to manoeuvre easily and can affect your balance, especially on uneven terrain or during challenging climbs.

Also, carrying a rucksack that’s too heavy may lead to unnecessary strain on your back, shoulders, and legs, potentially resulting in injuries that could cut your adventure short.

Is it Comfortable?

Comfort is paramount when selecting a rucksack for wild camping, especially when it’s fully loaded. A rucksack that feels comfortable when empty can become a source of discomfort and strain once it’s packed with gear, food, and equipment necessary for your adventure.

Look for rucksacks with adjustable chest and hip straps. These straps help distribute the weight more evenly across the body, reducing the burden on your shoulders and lower back.

Padding on the straps and back panel can also significantly enhance comfort, minimising the pressure points and the risk of chafing during long treks.

Ultimately, a comfortable rucksack makes it easier to cover longer distances, enjoy your surroundings, and fully engage with the wilderness experience.

Treking backpack
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

Different Rucksack Features to Look For

Understanding the common features of rucksacks and their specific purposes can significantly impact your comfort and efficiency during an outdoor adventure. Here are some key features to look out for:

Feature Description Benefit
Adjustable Straps Shoulder straps, waist belts, and load adjuster straps Secure fit, minimises pack movement, distributes weight
Padded Back Panel Provides comfort and support Enhances comfort, improves ventilation
Multiple Compartments & Pockets Internal and external compartments Easy organisation, quick access to items
Hydration Reservoir Compartment Built-in compartment for hydration bladder Easy hydration on the go
Rain Cover Detachable or integrated cover Protects gear from rain and mud
Compression Straps Straps on the sides or front Reduces pack volume, stabilises load
Attachment Points Loops, hooks, or elastic cords Secures additional gear like poles or axes

You might not be concerned with all of these extras, because it really depends on your trip and your preferences. But if you’re spending a lot of time on the trail, it’s important to have a pack that fits comfortably and can easily carry all your gear.

The Best Wild Camping Rucksacks

Carrying equipment is one of the most important things when you’re planning a wild camping trip. Following the Leave No Trace principles, you’ll need to be able to carry everything on your back, including your trash, when you leave. 

Here are our top recommendations for wild camping rucksacks that’ll easily fit everything you need for an off-grid adventure. 

1. 3F UL Gear Qidan 40+15 UL Pack

The 3F UL Gear Qidan pack weighs only 850g when empty, making it ultra-lightweight. This gives you more allowance for your kit. The frameless design gives this rucksack more flexibility, so you can pack your gear in a way that’s comfortable on your back. 

This pack’s maximum load is 12kg, making it strong enough to hold all your essentials while you hike to your remote camping location. With a capacity of 40L + 16L, you can fit everything you’ll need for your trip without having to use external packs. 

3fulgear qidian grey
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

2. Naturehike Rock 60L+5L

For wild campers who like to be prepared for all eventualities, the Naturehike Rock rucksack is an ideal choice. 

With a generous 60L + 5L capacity, it easily fits all your camping gear, clothing, and food. The durable nylon material makes it water-resistant, perfect for unpredictable weather conditions.

The ergonomic design of this pack also ensures maximum comfort while carrying heavy loads. It features an adjustable back panel with air ventilation to keep you cool and dry during long hikes. The multiple pockets and compartments allow for organised packing and easy access to your items.

Naturehike 60l5l with rain cover backpack 1
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

3. Exped Radical Lite Folding Lightweight Rucksack

For wild campers who prefer to stick to the bare bones of what’s required for their trip, or for shorter trips, we recommend the Exped Reical Lite Folding Lightweight Rucksack. This pack is a duffle bag with a backpack carry option for easy packing when leaving your camp. 

Made from recycled 100D robic triple ripstop UTS, this pack can withstand the wear and tear of an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Available in 25L and 50L sizes, it’s a great lightweight and compact option. 

The shoulder straps and hip belt are adjustable for a comfortable fit, and the pack can be easily folded down to save space when not in use.

Exped radical lite 25 1
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

4. Highlander Rambler Rucksack 

We love the Highlander Rambler Rucksack, a versatile rucksack that can easily hold everything you need for your wild camping trip. 

Made from water-repellent 6000D XTP polyester, your gear will be protected from whatever the elements can throw at you. Featuring a padded airflow back system, you can stay cool on your hike too and from your camping spot. 

With capacity options of 44, 66, and 88L, you can ensure plenty of room for survival essentials. The pack also features numerous external and internal pockets to organise your kit and keep important items close to hand.

Highlander rambler rucksack 44l
Wild Camping Rucksack Buying Guide: Best Size, Features, & Packing Tips

How to Pack Your Rucksack for Wild Camping

Packing your rucksack correctly will also help with comfort and stability while on the trail.

To pack a rucksack efficiently, place heavier items like water and food near your spine and towards the middle of the rucksack for balance.

Layer medium-weight items like clothing around them, and put light, bulky items at the bottom. Use outer pockets for essentials you need quick access to, such as maps and snacks.

Distribute weight evenly and make use of compression straps to minimise movement, ensuring a stable and comfortable hike.

Final Thoughts: What Size Rucksack Do You Need for Wild Camping?

Choosing the right rucksack for wild camping boils down to understanding your needs and the nature of your adventure. Whether you’re setting out for a quick overnighter or an extended expedition, the size and features of your rucksack can make or break your experience.

Prepare for your next adventure and carry all your essentials easily with our range of high-quality rucksacks and backpacks.

FAQs

Why is it Important to Get the Right Size Backpack?

Selecting the right size backpack ensures comfort, proper weight distribution, and enough space to carry all essential gear, preventing strain or injury and enhancing the overall experience of your outdoor adventure.

Is a 40L Backpack Big Enough for Camping?

A 40L backpack is typically sufficient for minimalist or weekend camping, accommodating essentials like a small tent, sleeping bag, food, and clothing. However, for longer trips or if you carry additional equipment, a larger capacity or external attachments might be necessary to ensure you have everything you need.

Do You Need More Than One Pack for Wild Camping?

Whether you need more than one pack for wild camping depends on the trip’s duration, your gear requirements, and how much you can comfortably carry. For most, a single, well-organised rucksack is sufficient, but additional packs may be needed for longer excursions, specific equipment, or day hikes.

What is the Difference Between a Rucksack and a Backpack?

The primary difference lies in size and purpose. A rucksack is a larger, rugged bag designed for outdoor activities and extended trips, equipped with various features for carrying heavy loads. A backpack is smaller, used for daily activities or shorter trips, focusing on convenience and light travel.

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