Discover Different Types of Backpacks: Style a Convenient Trip

What do you know about backpacks? Discover different types of backpacks and when to use them to utilise their features. 

Backpacks are convenient items to travel along. Not only being accessories, but they also have many versatile usages to fit any of your needs. These are useful companions for you during your daily life and travelling.

If you are looking for a backpack and get overwhelmed by different variations, don’t worry, we are here to help! This list will be divided into different usages to help you find better what you are looking for.

Daily-life Backpack

1. Laptop backpack

A laptop backpack is a must for digital nomads to carry their laptops along every day.

Bringing your laptop along to work whenever and wherever is a habit of many people nowadays, especially when digital nomad is becoming more and more popular. A comfortable laptop backpack is a must-have item to secure your laptop when you are on the move.

Each laptop backpack is designed with a specific compartment to secure the laptop. Usually, it will come with a padded laptop compartment. In addition, your laptop bag of choice should be able to stand upright, so it won’t fall down easily and get in everyone’s way.

You can actually use a school backpack for the same purpose if they have a separate laptop sleeve. However, if you purchase professional laptop backpacks, they might have more features, such as dedicated compartments for your electronic devices, separate pockets for accessories, solid weather resistance, padded laptop sleeve, etc.

CabinZero laptop backpack recommendations:

Most of CabinZero backpacks have a dedicated laptop sleeve in the main compartment (except ADV Dry). When you want to carry two laptops, the Classic Pros and ADV Pros feature an additional padded laptop sleeve on the front.

2. Rucksack

Rucksacks use straps to secure their compartments. Photos by Lina Verovaya on Unsplash 

Rucksack is a word that comes from Germany. It is a combination of “rucken”, which means back, and “sack”, which means bag. Most people might think rucksacks are the same as common backpacks, just with different designs. But there are actually certain differences between what is called a backpack and a rucksack.

Usually, rucksacks are able to hold more weight than backpacks, with additional belts and bigger openings. When backpacks use zippers to secure the compartments, rucksacks use flaps. Moreover, rucksacks are normally made of waxed canvas to preserve the form while still being able to stuff as many items as possible. 

As for function, rucksacks are suitable for hiking and outdoor activities, while backpacks are your go-to for everyday carry or school. Now, these two terms are used interchangeably, and so the differences have also become blurred.

Top Picks:

3. Drawstring Backpacks

Drawstring backpacks are suitable if you only need to carry essential belongings. Photo by Ira_Shpiller -

Drawstring backpacks are loved by many due to their light-weighting and convenience. These backpacks come with a minimal design, with one main compartment, usually made of fabric, and strings to close the opening of it. These strings also act as straps for the backpacks.

Though being unable to carry lots of stuff, drawstring backpacks are perfect to carry small personal items when you go to the gym. You can also keep one as a laundry bag or a secondary day bag when travelling. Drawstring backpacks are easy to fold because of their simple design.

A small piece of advice is that you shouldn’t carry heavy items in these backpacks. The strings will put a burden on your shoulders by squeezing tightly to bear the weight.

4. Mini Backpack

Mini backpacks are usually designed fashionably and suitable for an evening out.

Mini backpacks are mostly fashion items. They are usually designed with stylish looks and small capacity. These bags are useful in daily life as a purse to keep your personal items, such as keys, wallet, phone, etc., when you go out. These range from 1L-15L in size.

They ensure you still have your necessary stuff while still being able to keep a fashionable outfit. Usually, mini backpacks have long straps with small divided compartments. The shape and detailed designs have no limitations.

CabinZero mini backpack recommendations:

CabinZero ADV Flight and CabinZero Classic Flight are the cuties that will brighten your days. Their small size makes them a perfect fit for women and children travellers.

4. Tote Backpack

You can wear a tote bag like a tote backpack to carry more belongings easier. 

When mentioning tote bags, most people will think of the side-carry style. However, some designs with extra straps allow you to wear a tote bag like a backpack.

The signature difference between a tote backpack and a normal backpack is that a tote backpack only has one big compartment. This allows you to access and organise your belongings to your own will. There are usually outside pockets and sometimes a laptop slip.

Sporty Backpack

5. Hydration Backpack

Hydration backpacks are not common in everyday life but are extremely handy when going hiking. Photo by ​English language Wikipedia user Toytoy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hydration backpacks store water with a small bladder and include a hose linked to the front for easy access whenever you want to hydrate yourself.

They are not an everyday backpack for most people but are extremely handy when hiking, running or cycling. You can also use them when you attend sports events or music festivals.

Some can only carry water with one big bladder made up of the whole bag. Others have extra space and pockets for carrying small items such as glasses, snacks, phones, etc. or a change of clothes.

6. Hiking Backpack

Hiking backpacks are designed with a big capacity. Photo by Jacob Lund

To keep your essentials when going hiking or trekking, we recommend you get yourself a professional hiking backpack if this is a regular activity. Most of the time, you can use a regular backpack. But when you want to bring more gear or engage in longer adventures, that’s when a hiking backpack makes all the difference.

They are usually lighter, water-proof, and have more features for outdoor activities. Wearing a pack that weighs you down is every hiker’s worst nightmare. To ensure maximum comfort, Hiking backpacks often come with hip belts, sternum straps and compression straps.

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7. Frame Backpack

A frame backpack will help you carry heavy things while still protecting your back.

Frame backpacks can be considered upgraded versions of hiking backpacks. They are used to serve longer and more complicated trips. Just like the name, frame backpacks have frames to keep them in their form and stand up straight without anything inside. The frames also help to distribute weight, allowing you to carry more capacity without much pressure.

Another benefit of the frame backpacks is that they help you pack easier. With the fixed form, you can put your things into different groups and preserve their shapes safely during the trip, even on bumpy terrains.

On the other hand, they are much heavier than normal hiking backpacks due to the added weight. If they are equipped with light, hollow frames, the reliability might be decreased. You can go for products with removable frames to use the backpack in different circumstances.

CabinZero frame backpack recommendations:

  • The ADV 42L and ADV Pro 42L comes with removable frame sheets that provide back support for long hike or extended outdoor activities. These sheets are lightweight and rigid enough to hold the backpack shape and off-loading the strain on your back.

8. Snowsports Backpack

Bringing a snowsport backpack will help you overcome the harsh weather while enjoying the sport. Photo by alexanderuhrin -

Snowsports backpacks are used specifically for snowy areas. You can use them when enjoying snowsports such as snowboarding, skiing, etc. You can never go on a winter adventure without one.

Generally speaking, they are similar to normal hiking backpacks, from shapes to sizes. They are made with water-proof materials to protect your belongings against the snow. Snowsports backpacks are also designed with safety in mind, as some come with avalanche safety pockets.

However, there are certain special features to make them different from normal water-proof hiking backpacks. Professional snowsport backpacks are designed to keep your skiing gear. They come with multiple compartments and straps to carry your goggles, helmets or snowboard, etc.

9. Dry Bag

Those who love watersports should have a dry bag to protect their belongings from water.

For those who usually go swimming, fishing, or snorkelling, etc., a dry bag backpack is a useful item. Different from most of the other backpacks that use the zipline to close and open, dry bag backpacks use roll-top closure. This allows them to be entirely watertight enclosed. They are all made of waterproof material, sometimes translucent. 

The shapes and sizes of dry bag backpacks come in various choices, from small pouches to big bags. You can choose one based on the sport you are participating in or the length of it. If you are going to put it 100% underwater, you should first check if it is submersible or not and under how much time.

CabinZero drybag recommendations:

A perfect day at the beach or hiking in the rain can’t be completed without a decent dry bag. Grab an ADV Dry Waterproof backpack and enjoy endless fun at the shore with additional assurance that everything will be kept safe and dry.

Travelling Backpack

10. Anti-Theft Backpack

Anti-thief backpacks give the best security for your belongings compared to other kinds of backpacks.

Anti-thief backpacks give the best security for your belongings compared to other kinds of backpacks.

Anti-theft backpacks truly live up to their name, being the safest of all the different types of backpacks. The whole idea of anti-theft backpacks is to keep your belongings from being pickpocketed. 

These items are equipped with special features such as hidden zippers, locks, cut-proof fabric, etc. Some also have compression straps, belts, and hidden openings to take out your stuff easier.

If credit card or identity thef is your concerns, look for any bags that comes with RFID-blocking technology. In short, it is a barrier that prevents bad people from scanning sensitive information stored your on credit cards, passports, or other identification documents.

Of course, there are still chances that the thief can take away the bag itself if you leave it unattended. However, there is a high chance that they might find it too much trouble and aim for an easier target.

CabinZero anti theft backpack recommendations:

The majority of CabinZero backpacks are equipped with lockable compartments on the front (except ADV Dry). Just find a TSA-approved locks and you’re solid. All of them also have Okoban tracking, an easy way for airport handlers or good samaritans to track and return your bags to your effortlessly. 

11. Duffel Backpacks

Duffel backpacks are handy when travelling for a short amount of time. Photo by Micah Tindell on Unsplash

Duffel backpacks are usually used on short trips and sometimes when going to the gym. This is because of its signature features.

Firstly, these bags are convenient. They can be carried in different ways, from slinging them across your body, wearing them on your back, holding them in your hand, etc. This avoids putting pressure on one point of your body.

Secondly, they are designed with big capacity. Their unstructured shapes allow you to stuff many things inside and squeeze them to put away when no longer needed. These backpacks are useful if you are going to travel for a short amount of time and don’t want to carry a suitcase.

11. Wheeled Backpack

Wheeled backpacks are easier to carry than suitcases and can pack more things than normal backpacks.

Wheeled backpacks are a combination of suitcases and backpacks. They are basically backpacks with wheels and handles, the best of both worlds.

These bags are alternative options when you don’t want to carry so many bags on your trip but want the convenience of the suitcase. Wheeled backpacks are usually designed a little bigger than normal backpacks to maximise their capacity. You can carry them easily like a suitcase or wear them on your shoulders when needed.

12. Carry-On/TSA-Friendly Backpack

Travel with ease thanks to a carry-on-compliant backpack.

TSA doesn’t specify the size of backpacks allowed on planes. But for most airlines, the maximum size of carry-on bags they allow to be on board is 60x35x25cm. So as long as your backpack meets their requirement, you can use normal backpacks on planes as carry-on luggage. 

However, sometimes using normal backpacks can be inconvenient when passing the security gate, especially if you are carrying an electrical device. In these cases, there are TSA-Friendly backpacks that can help you travel easier.

For professional TSA-Friendly backpacks, besides following this rule, they will also have a separate compartment to put your laptop and other electrical devices.  You can take this compartment out easily using the zipper rather than having to open the whole bag.

CabinZero carry-on backpack recommendations:

Proving airline-friendly cabin bags is what we do, and we do it with passion and care. Pick any of our 28L CabinZero backpacks to enjoy a hassle-free flying experience with hand luggage. Living out of a backpack has never been easier.


13. Tactical Backpacks

Tactical backpacks are military-inspired pieces that can protect your stuff from the elements.

Tactical backpacks are usually designed with military motifs like camouflage or in plain dark colours like black. You often see them on the backs of law enforcement officers, first responders or soldiers. But for us normal folks, they can also be an ideal pack for trekking, camping, or any everyday activities.

Though they are used by armed forces, you can totally buy them in an Army surplus or some backpack stores. And there are many military-inspired models you can easily purchase from reputable brands, such as 5.11 Tactical on Amazon or their websites.

The part that they are used by the military has enough to say about their quality and purposes. These bags are made with waterproof materials. They are designed to carry a large weight and maintain their durability while passing harsh terrains.

Most tactical backpacks have many small compartments and hip belts to fix them tightly to your body. They can also have water pouches, loading straps, or even frames. The most important feature of military backpacks is MOLLE webbing, a special load-bearing modular system that allows them to carry more weight and various pieces.

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14. Camera Backpacks

Camera backpacks are designed specifically to protect different pieces of a camera. Photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash

A run-on-the-mill pack won’t cut it when it comes to storing your DSLR and mirrorless camera kits. For any professional or hobby photographer, a camera backpack that can protect the gear from the elements while also preventing lenses and cameras from bashing into each other is a godsend.

They are divided into different sleeves to keep various parts of the camera, from lenses to chargers, memory cards, etc. Camera backpacks are equipped with cushions to protect the fragile machine while on the road. Some even have a magnetic system to keep the parts stay in place. And, of course, they are waterproof.

15. Pet Carrier Backpack


When travelling or hanging out, instead of leaving your furry friend home alone, you can carry them in a pet carrier backpack. These bags are designed with a big compartment, vents, and a sight hole to keep your pet comfortable.

The backpack will be made of hard material, avoiding squishing your pet on the road. Therefore, the straps will have cushions to lessen the pain in your shoulder.

16. Child Carrier Backpacks

A child carrier can be a great way to bring your child with you on the trek. Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels

A child carrier backpack is a must-have item if you are going to travel with babies or toddlers that are not able to walk long hours by themselves. It is the hybrid of a child carrier and a backpack, allowing you to bring your belongings along with carrying your child at the same time.

The child carrier backpacks are designed with a frame in the back to keep them standing up straight when being put down on the ground. In front of the child, the carrier will have a cushion to make them feel comfortable lying on your back. And there will be belts, straps, etc., to protect the child's position as well as fix the backpack for you.

The compartments to keep your things are usually designed behind the child’s position or inside bags tied to your front. Some child carrier backpacks also have covers to protect babies from severe weather.

Good luck

After discovering different types of backpacks, we hope that you have found your choice. If you don’t have any activity that requires the help of a specific type of backpack, you should prioritise waterproof backpacks with versatile designs. They can be used under various circumstances and are best for your budget.

Claire Thuc

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