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Backpack with 30 l capacity

The backpack is a container made of fabric, flexible plastic (nylon or PVC) or leather , which is carried on the back on straps and is used to transport objects. Light rucksacks are carried on shoulder straps alone; In the case of backpacks for the transport of heavy loads, the load is transferred to the hips via a hip belt.

Depending on the quality, area of ​​application (e.g. trekking, climbing, hiking, traveling, cycling, leisure time, load transport, school, etc.) and the level of comfort required by the wearer, the features of the backpacks may vary (e.g. ventilation of the back, internal carrying frame for weight transfer to the hips, adjustability the back length to optimize the fit, weight, quality and durability of the upholstery to avoid pressure / chafing, etc.).


Classic rucksack used by the Swiss Army around 1960
The carrying frame is integrated.

The Kraxe or backpack is the original form of the rucksack, in which the belt system only carries an open frame made of wood or (today) light metal . One also speaks of an external support frame to which the actual load is attached, either directly or in separate containers. One of the oldest archaeological evidence of a Kraxe comes from the complex of finds of the glacier mummy Ötzi from the Neolithic Age approx. 3300 BC. Chr. Kraxen used to serve long-distance trade and peddlers and water traders. As far as is known, crawlers are still used today for transporting books over stairwells in individual university libraries (Austria). Special back carriers for carrying babies, for example when hiking in the mountains, are also popular.

A related development is the Kiepe , a basket carried on the back.

Carrying frames and packboard

The modern form of the Kraxe is the carrying frame to which the actual load is attached. The carrying frame is used to stabilize and distribute the load, compared to a backpack, (in some cases) larger loads can be transported well. For example, knapsacks and rucksacks, ammunition boxes, machine parts and food containers can be attached and moved.

The older and simpler form of the carrying frame, the “packboard”, essentially a ladder-shaped wooden frame (from the 17th century) or a metal plate (from the beginning of the 20th century) as a rough approximation of the Kraxe, was still used up to the 1960s / 70s in military use. Some versions had a rear fabric mat cushion, hook-in cross-plate carriers and belt tensioners for transporting loads. It was mostly replaced by the more modern carrying frame (“frame”). Similar to the frame backpack, this often has a hip pad and a fold-out transverse plate at the rear for load bearing.

Backpack with integrated carrying frame

Traditional or modern backpack, often with a flap, map or outer compartment, attachment straps, carrying loop and stand reinforcement. A carrying frame made of metal or plastic is openly integrated behind the harness, some of which are sewn into the backpack. An arched cushion at hip height creates the necessary air space between the back and the backpack.

Further spacing is actually not necessary and with some modern designs is definitely at the expense of the backpack volume and comfort. Strictly speaking and compared to the Kraxe / Kiepe and the Blunse, the actual shape of the backpack is, with or without a carrying frame, also known as a hunter's rucksack , Aser ( hunter's language ) or hunting backpack, although many hunters also prefer rucksacks without a fixed carrying frame that are made of loden fabric and leather are made with rollerless buckles so as not to cause any noise when moving around the area. Special shapes for individual travelers and backpackers sometimes reach three times the size of the regular type and are therefore very similar to carrying frames.


Simple name for a backpack without a carrying frame, often referred to as a daypack , traded as a simple but fashionable article in sometimes bright colors. Low transport capacity and problems with bulky or heavy goods go hand in hand with small pack size and high distribution. Compared to regular bags, the free hands for work, comfort and cycling are particularly noticeable.

Courier backpack

The courier backpack was developed for the needs of bicycle couriers. It is easy to carry on the bike and can be put on and taken off quickly, consists mostly of particularly robust, waterproof material (so-called truck tarpaulin) and offers plenty of space for the objects to be transported. In addition to its transport function, the rucksack often serves as an advertising medium for courier companies.

Laptop or notebook backpack

The laptop or notebook backpack is specially developed to transport laptops or notebooks in a practical and easy way. Among other things (or mainly) it houses a padded compartment for the portable computer . It is preferred by motorcycle or bicycle drivers or commuters.

City backpack

The city ​​rucksack ( city ​​bag ) is a fashionably styled, lightweight form of the rucksack that is used as a shopping bag or briefcase carried on the back. It came up in the mid-1980s, before blunsen were only common in the leisure and outdoor sector . A modern version is the triangular Triangle City Bag ( body bag ) or one-belt backpack or crossover bag.

Suitcase backpack

In contrast to a typical rucksack, which has the opening to the main compartment at the top, a suitcase rucksack has a large opening at the front so that you can lay it down in front of you like a suitcase and open it. In many models, the carrying system can also be stowed under the cover. This mutates the suitcase backpack into a travel bag .

Photo backpack

A small photo backpack

Similar to the suitcase backpack, photo backpacks are usually designed with a large front flap for quick access to the equipment carried. As a rule, a photo backpack is sewn in two layers with intervening padding made of PE or PU foam panels and equipped with equally padded, adjustable inner dividers. Several inner compartments and often also outer pockets allow the storage of small parts. There can also be straps on the outside for bulky accessories such as tripods . Photo backpacks are much more comfortable to carry than photo bags. With conventional models, however, it is necessary to remove the backpack to access the camera equipment and put it down somewhere. Alternative constructions allow one of the two carrying straps to be loosened so that the sack can be swiveled to one side of the body and operated like a normal photo bag without having to put it down.

Trekking backpack

Climbing and outdoor backpack with helmet net

In contrast to a backpack for hiking with day equipment, trekking requires a backpack with a very large volume. This usually offers the option of attaching various items of equipment such as insulating mats, (ski) poles, tent poles, ice axes and mountain helmets to the outside of the backpack, although this makes the backpack unstable when carried. Some trekking backpacks have a separate sleeping bag compartment, which, however, increases the weight of the backpack. Additional pockets offer storage options for glasses, electronic devices or are compatible with hydration systems . Particularly the comfort for long hikes or good balance are special properties of a trekking backpack.

Climbing backpacks , on the other hand, are built narrow and, in contrast, do not have the volume necessary for long-distance treks and have no side pockets .

Hydration pack

Hydration backpack from CamelBak

As hydration pack (even after the trade names platypus or CamelBak ( engl. Camel) or verballhornt Camelbag (engl. Camel pocket)), a drinking system referred to in which a bladder is incorporated into a backpack. It usually holds 1.5 to 3 liters. By means of a hose that is placed forward, the user can then ingest liquid without interrupting his activity. That is why endurance athletes who have to cover long distances use this device. These backpacks are now available in many designs and sizes. In addition to sports, hydration packs are standard equipment for soldiers in many armies around the world.

Escape backpack

An escape backpack is called a runbag, grapbag, escape bag or bug-out bag . It should make it easier to escape in the event of a disaster . A so-called runbag with a volume of around 35 liters is particularly recommended for people who travel to dangerous regions of the world, such as reporters or development workers who work longer in political crisis areas . In the event that the political situation or a natural disaster makes it necessary to flee immediately, it should be kept ready and packed. In the Prepperszene the term has established escape backpack, for a more complete equipment is provided but generally.


Rectangular Swiss Infantry Backpack (Monkey)

In some parts of Germany referred knapsack a school bag , so a school bag that is worn on the back.

In a narrower sense, the knapsack , also known colloquially as a monkey , is a type of backpack that is predominantly used by the military and in which a fur or fabric covering is sewn over a rectangular wooden or plastic frame. The inside is usually lined with fabric. The knapsack was used exclusively by the infantry . The combat backpack is used in the military today.

Since the knapsack is still popular with some boy scouts , there are models specially made for this target group, in which plastic is used instead of the previous wooden frame.


In addition to the sack on the shoulder and the further development (duffel bag), this is the original form of the backpack. The belongings are rolled up in a blanket or leather skin, the blanket roll is knotted at each end with a harness or suitable rope and hung around the neck. The modified form of the diagonally hung rain tarpaulin with a blanket wrapped in it was worn for a long time in the Russian army . The baggage roll is still in use today by traveling journeymen . The cloth in which the belongings are tied is called Charlottenburger and is also a popular souvenir and collector's item.

Duffel bag

Sailors carry their duffel bags on board a ship

A duffel bag , also known as a baggage bag , is a special type of backpack in the form of a large sack made of coarse canvas. The sack often has a harness for carrying over one or both shoulders and can be locked at the opening by threading a snap hook , large padlock or locking ring. Duffel bags are still used today in the military, especially in the navy, for transporting and storing soldiers' personal equipment. The focus is less on high wearing comfort than on the simple stowing of large amounts of clothing and personal items for longer ship passages. See also: dufflebag

Zampel (also "Zampelbüdel")

This is a scaled down form of the duffel bag. It is a sack made of coarse canvas with a circular bottom, usually Ø 50 cm and a height of usually less than 100 cm. The edge of the opening is reinforced and provided with metal eyelets ("Gatchen") through which a pull cord runs that can be attached to the bottom of the Zampels. So the Zampel can be carried over the shoulder. The tackle of the rigger that contains his personal tools is called "Keefbüdel". In the dockworker's yard there was always his work clothes ("parcel"), the " Henkelmann " (aluminum container with spring lock for pre-cooked food) and the "coffee tank" (read: ... teng), the thermos with coffee. Smuggled goods were often smuggled out of the free port in the Zampel and hidden under the mostly very dirty work gear. The dock worker called it "fidgeting" and hoped the customs officer wouldn't want to touch his dirty work gear.

School backpack

A variation of the modern, designed for healthy posture, optimal weight distribution and comfort Wanderrucksäcke the school backpack as school bags (now also made of modern materials such as durable and weather-resistant polyester / PVC) for children of primary school age, as a means of transportation for school materials.

Various (satchel, satchel, skin iron)

Another historical rucksack shape is the satchel , which is preferably made of sturdy leather . The word is of Slavic origin and is derived from rame (shoulder). The containers used by the migratory boys to transport their belongings are called fur irons . The duffel bag is carried on the side of the back with just a single strap.


In the past rucksacks were tied and the leather straps were connected with buckles . Today, Velcro fasteners , zip fasteners , click buckles, adjustable buckles and tanka are used for this.


The term itself is derived from the hunter's expression "back" (in the sense of "back the nets", i.e. pull together).

The pictorial use of the term occurs among other things

See also


  • Efficient cargo transport in Nepal. In Science . 308, 1755 (2005) / Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau , 1/2006, p. 22

Web links

Commons : Backpacks  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Backpacks  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: backpack  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ulla Plog: The New Narcissism , Die Zeit No. 10 of March 1, 1985
  2. Blümchen am Beutel , Der Spiegel No. 37 of September 9, 1985
  3. ^ Meyer's Large Conversational Lexicon. 6th edition, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1905-1909. 1909, Retrieved October 18, 2017 .