Need a sturdy pack for your everyday adventures both in the city and out of town? Sure, you could just strap on that trusty old Jansport, but where’s the fun in that? We think that’s where a good rucksack comes into play. Rucksacks are the kind of bags that tote your laptop during the week and your adventure gear during the weekend. Here are some of our favorite rucksacks of every flavor for all the guys out there carrying something other than schoolbooks on their backs. As an added bonus, they look great doing both.
LL Bean Continental Rucksack
L.L. Bean is known for some iconic products. Their timeless duck boots, birds-eye knit wool sweaters, and this here rucksack, which has been in their lineup for the better part of three decades. And while the Continental Rucksack’s silhouette has kept its heritage style throughout the years, the latest iteration has some great updates that improve even further on the previous design.
For instance, the top lid is now a hinged snap-down design with a quick-access fleece-lined pocket for storing sunglasses or electronics you don’t want getting scratched. The main body of the pack has been updated as well and is now made from a super-rugged 600-denier polyester that is both recycled and Bluesign-approved.
And while we’re partial to the classic khaki/olive colorway, L.L. Bean has made the Continental in their unmistakable retro color block treatment as well, so if you love a little 80s hiking gear flair, they’ve got you covered.
U.S. Military Surplus MOLLE Rucksack
If you’re shopping for a military-style rucksack and want the most authentic piece of gear you can get, why not get the real thing? Believe it or not, there are a ton of standard-issue military backpacks that go unused and get sold back to the public. If you want the biggest, burliest rucksack on the market, this is the one.
Buyer beware: This is no casual around-town style piece. The standard-issue MOLLE rucksack uses a full-sized external polymer frame complete with thick padded shoulder straps, a hip belt, and a sternum strap. Honestly, if you intend to really load this thing down to its full potential though, you’re going to need that kind of support.
That’s because the main pack boasts over 65 liters of capacity, which is on par with your average thru-hiking pack. Each of these military surplus models also ships with two additional “sustainment” pouches that attach to the sides of the bag using the MOLLE loops, boosting the capacity to a whopping 82 liters. So yes, it’s safe to say this rucksack can absolutely do it all. If you’re considering picking one up for
Buffalo Jackson Dakota Reserve Waxed Canvas Rucksack
Boy, is this thing handsome. The Buffalo Jackson Dakota Waxed Canvas Rucksack is an absolutely premium bag, packed full of hand-made details and quality materials throughout.
The Dakota owes its authentic 1900s style to a mix of early mountaineering packs and the rucksacks worn by soldiers in the First World War. That timeless style comes across all that much better thanks to the use of thick 15-ounce waxed canvas and full-grain leather throughout the exterior of the bag. Hammered copper rivets add a further degree of long-lasting quality to the pack, as do the vintage-inspired brass roller buckles.
The same quality continues to the inside of the pack, with a leather cord cinch closure, leather trim along the laptop and secondary divider pockets, and even leather-tabbed zippers along the interior stash pocket.
If you’re looking to invest in an heirloom-quality pack that will just get better with age, the Dakota is the kind of everyday rucksack we’d fully expect to survive at least one lifetime of use and abuse.
Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault Pack
If you’re looking for a rucksack that looks good around the city without looking out of place out on the trail, the Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault is a fantastic all-around bag with a ton of features for everyday use.
City-wise you’ll find interior padded compartments for both your laptop and a tablet, as well as tons of internal pockets for organizing your everyday carry. Throw in a portable charger, an extra layer or rain jacket, your camera, and whatever else you might need while you’re out and about. The straps are all-day comfortable for walking around and exploring, and the removable hip belt is a nice touch when you want a little more support.
From a hiking/outdoors perspective, the 2 Day Assault has a surprising amount of technical features that really add to its versatility. A molded plastic sheet internal frame, for instance, gives solid lumbar support for heavier loads should you choose to take advantage of this rucksack’s 27-liter capacity. MOLLE loops on the front and sides of the pack add potential for lashing on an extra warm/waterproof layer to the outside, and the two large side pockets can both fit your favorite Nalgene bottles.
Herschel Buckingham Backpack
If you’re looking for a rucksack-style pack without the rucksack-style bulk, the Herschel Buckingham is essential a larger version of their popular “Little America” bag that’s been given the rucksack treatment.
They come in a ton of colors (each with Herschel’s classic striped liner), feature dual exterior pockets with quality webbing and metal buckles, and actually pack a surprising amount of capacity as well at 33 liters. The Buckingham’s dual water bottle pockets aren’t Nalgene-friendly, but they’re more than capable of hanging on to your typical double-walled aluminum bottles.
Herschel doesn’t exactly specialize in rugged outdoor products, so the Buckingham is going to be your fashion-forward option here, but if style is your main focus, the Buckingham is tough to beat. Plus, it comes in camo.
What’s The Difference Between A Rucksack And A Backpack?
You can think of a rucksack as a backpack on steroids. Rucksacks hold more gear, feature extra compartments for organization, and typically offer better padding and support than your average commuter pack to help carry some extra weight. Essentially a classic take on the modern high-volume backpacking pack.
And while many rucksacks are geared toward classic style and construction, some of them will actually go the distance outdoors as well. See, the best rucksacks tend to fall into two types: There’s the vintage approach, which sports that timeless “canvas and leather” aesthetic, and then there’s the more modern “tactical” approach, which embraces the military vibe with more technical materials like Cordura and nylon.
Both styles sport unique details and rugged looks that put a rough-and-tumble twist on your typical backpack.
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