Have you ever used the terms ‘backpack’, ‘rucksack’ or ‘bag’ interchangeably thinking they all mean the same?

By the end of this blog you’ll be able to understand the unique differences between rucksack vs backpack vs bag, and use the right term at the right place & get the right thing required!

Just before we get this started, it is necessary to understand that “all rucksacks are backpacks, but not all backpacks are rucksacks.

Bag VS Backpack:

Backpack VS Bag
  • Bags are actually simplified backpacks, mainly used to carry the load of books, documents and other office/school supplies which rarely have more than one spacious compartment and no extra pockets on the front panel.
  • Backpacks, on the other hand, have more compartments, pockets and features in general, than regular bags. They are normally constructed from sturdier materials, which implies more longevity and water resistance.
  • Bags usually have very simple shoulder straps, and rarely have padding or breathable mesh on the back panel.
Simple Purchase Tip: Backpacks that have a capacity of 30-40 liters, with multiple compartments are extremely versatile for any adventurous trip.

In short, the biggest distinction between a ‘bag’ and a ‘backpack’ is in the way we wear them.

Traditionally, bags are used by elementary school students and have two handles, just like handbags. However, the backpack is on the back, as the name suggests.

Now that we’ve understood the difference between ‘bags’ and ‘backpacks’, let’s break down the differences between rucksacks & backpacks.

Rucksacks VS Backpacks – Key Differences

The term ‘backpack’ is a term coined in the United States to refer to the backpack (or sacks) that you carry on your back. Whereas, the word rucksack is the German origin word “Rucken” meaning “back”, while sack means “bag” or the pack.

Therefore, the rucksack is basically a larger and improved backpack.

In order to find out the specific difference between a backpack and a rucksack, it largely depends on the function and what you intend to use it for respectively.


The term “backpack” is a general term used to describe all bags carried on your back, whether it is used as a school bag or a multi-day trip with friends/family.

However, backpacks are more commonly used for professional activities such as camping or hiking.

The basic concept of a backpack is that you can carry heavy loads and have enough space to store the things.

Backpacks usually have multiple pockets, and have a main opening from the top, sides or the middle.

Backpacks may have multiple large openings to divide your items and easily access them, such as your DSLR camera from the side.

Backpacks usually have two adjustable shoulder straps, but the weight is borne by the hips.

The hip belt transfers the weight of the backpack from shoulders to hips, allowing you to bear most of the burden with your body’s largest muscles (legs).

In the leg muscles area, we can bear a lot of weight, and if your backpack has an effective belt, you will immediately notice the difference.


The term rucksacks, on the other hand, are military backpacks that have military-specific features involved into the build.

The ideal rucksack size should be large, which can hold 50 liters or more.

A rucksack is a large pack with pockets and safety belts and can hold more equipment than a backpack. Rucksacks may also have hip belts and, in some cases, chest belts.

Rucksack Specs

The opening of the main compartment is one feature that distinguishes a rucksack from a backpack.

Rucksacks may have a few smaller ones but generally have a wide one at the end, while backpacks often have several entry points into the main compartment.

Rucksacks often have a drawstring, followed by a flap that is buckled to the body of the pack.


Backpacks and rucksacks both allow you to carry heavier loads more easily than a handbag.

Hence, choosing between packs boils down to how much you need to carry and how long you need to carry it.

Now that you understand the differences between a ‘bag’, ‘backpack’ and a ‘rucksack’, we may infer that a backpack is the better choice for hitting the trail with regard to hiking & backpacking.

Therefore, finding a decent backpack that is both lightweight and large enough to hold all of your essentials is important when you’re planning your next backpacking trip or just going for a city break.

And if you’re planning to schedule your first or next post-pandemic adventure trip soon, don’t forget to prep yourself with the CarryPro’s right tips and tricks for backpacking that will accompany you on your trip and make it more enjoyable!