Backpacks, in the simplest definition of the term, are a tool we use to carry loads on our backs (and sometimes, as you’ll see, on our fronts). This is a very interesting subject for many, and familiar to almost everyone as they are very popular items. This article will look at the industry, the different types of backpacks there are, and some of the uses involved.
There are a number of types of backpacks available for an even greater number of uses. They are usually bodypack, external frame, frameless or internal frame in nature. A frame helps distribute the weight inside the pack across the entire back, allowing one to carry more and carry things further.
The industry is constantly evolving because of the introduction of newer, stronger, cheaper or lighter materials that can be used in the manufacturing process. There is also an ebb and flow of consumer and institutional demand for these items, based both on cultural and seasonal pressures.
Bodypacks are the most unusual-looking solution. They combine pockets around the sides and in the front for an equal distribution of weight throughout. The design allows for the weight to be mostly supported by the hips. They are unusual-looking – and also not as popular as the other types.
Wooden external frame backpacks have been common with the military and mountaineers alike for centuries, and metal frames have become popular lately for modern use. They allow the wearer to carry a significantly heavy weight. In order to maximize efficiency of the design manufacturers try to use the lightest and strongest materials available for the budget of the model being sold. It is easily possible for a proper external frame to support loads in excess of 25kg for an extended period of time.
Think of a school backpack – frameless packs are a satchel attached to one or more (usually two) straps for carrying, making this the simplest and most popular design by measure of sales per capita.
These types of backpacks are relatively new – being invented in the late ‘60s. It combines a series of complicated straps with an internal frame, which allows for a higher amount of upper body movement but reduces ventilation of the wearer. This is a trade off many are willing to take, and this design is becoming increasingly popular.
There are also a whole series of speciality backpacks for particular careers and hobbies, ranging from spelunking (where added durability is a must) to photography and electronics enthusiasts (where relatively expensive protective areas are a must). For these types of uses it’s best to go with a world-renowned manufacturer, like Nike, to ensure your investment lives up to it’s cost.
There is a whole interesting history behind the evolution of the different types of backpacks, too, that stretches back thousands of years – like the wheelbarrow it’s a staple of civilization, having allowed us to move further with heavier loads.