Shopping cart


What Is A Backpack: Overview and Guide to Backpacks

What Is A Backpack: Overview and Guide to Backpacks

The backpack. It is probably the most common bag out there. Everybody uses a backpack. From pre-schoolers going to school to adult hitchhikers going on an adventure. It is a versatile bag for which associates with adventure, freedom, and travel. It is also for function, maybe even dating back to our primitive ancestors. However, there is more to a backpack than just its use. Get to know more about the backpack, its history, and more.

leather backpack
The Asmund Backpack

What Is A Backpack: Brief History

Before we talk about the backpack itself, let us first understand its origin. Although there exists little to no evidence, our primitive ancestors were likely to have used the backpack. Or at least the very concept of it. Which is the need to carry something from point A to point B. Many speculate that man instinctively learned that it was easier to carry a heavy object on their back rather than carrying it by their arms. Likewise, it would be convenient for them to carry things on their back. As such this would give them a free hand to carry weapons like spears and clubs. However, these are mere speculations due to lack of evidence.

The earliest ever record of a backpack or at least the concept of using a backpack were in the Alps. Evidence shows an early design of a U-shaped rod with two wooden boards that are held together by a string. Accordingly, its use is mainly to carry firewood. Making it easier to carry. It also increases the firewood that they can carry.

Modern Design

While our ancestors had the idea, the early design of the backpack that we know and love began around the year 1878. It was thanks to the innovation of Henry Merriam where we get to see the early designs of the modern backpack. Its name was the "knapsack". The knapsack had a metal frame support that would help reduce the burden on the back. The idea however never came to fruition. It was instead made exclusively for the US Army.

Moving forward, it was only around the early 20th century where ideas came to revolutionize the backpack. Many have contributed to the transformation of the design. From inventors to adventurers, these people help make the backpack we know today. One after the other seeking to redesign and improve its function and comfort.

Nowadays, backpacks are both for function and fashion with varying shapes and sizes. Likewise, its design continues to grow.

Leather backpack
The Sten Backpack

What Is A Backpack: The Fundamentals

While there have been many innovations to the design of the backpack, these variations did not go far from the basic form.

Fundamentally, the modern backpack is frameless. It is either made of cloth, nylon, leather, or waxed canvas. The pack is typically carried on the back. Hence its name the "back" "pack". It has two parallel straps that hang over the shoulders. Since its purpose is to ease the burden by carrying the load on one's back the shoulder strap typically are adjustable and have pads. The pads provide comfort for the wearer even while carrying a heavy load. Likewise, the adjustable straps are meant to move the weight. Whether you want it to be higher or lower on the back. This will help with the burden of carrying a heavy load. Also, almost all designs include a main compartment.

Likewise, the fundamental innovations introduced are also meant to provide comfort and convenience. An example would be the introduction of the waist strap hip belt. The waist strap and sternum strap provides for additional support. It decreases the burden on the shoulder by sharing the weight on the waist. Exterior and interior compartments were also introduced for security and accessibility. Its size also varies depending on the activity.

Different Types Of Backpacks

If you are thinking that there might be a backpack for every activity, chances are you might be correct. The variety of choices might overwhelm someone who knows nothing about backpacks. Worry not, we are here to help by getting you familiar with the different types and sub-types of bags.

For Everyday Use

These are the ones that people use on a daily basis. Be it for school, work, commute, going to the gym, or for any other activity. These are the most common and the most popular. Everyday backpacks include the basic daypack, the rucksack, and drawstring backpacks. The Anti theft backpack and laptop backpack are also for everyday use. Likewise, a duffel backpack and a tote backpack are also included. They are simply either a tote/duffel with shoulder straps and typically are a frameless backpack.

For Biking

These are for biking. There are only two types. Hydration backpacks and biking gear backpacks. These backpacks are pretty straightforward as their names suggest. One offers hands-free hydration while riding while the other offers organizational compartments for tools and other cycling gear. The gear backpack is larger than the other. Likewise, it may also have a hydration bladder. A 2 in 1 bag of sorts.

For Hiking or Trekking

Likewise, these are designed for people who often go hiking or trekking. The hiking backpack can vary in size and structure. From small to large, framed, or frameless. The hiking pack is built to carry a lot of things but is still lightweight and durable.

For Travel

While most if not all backpacks are for travel these travel backpack are more innovative than others when it comes to travel. For example, is the "backpacking backpack". Large backpacks for people who go on long trips, such as cross country or a Euro Trip. There are also "carry on backpacks". They are made to fit inside overhead bins or rest on the floor during a quick trip. There also backpacks that are TSA friendly and there are those backpacks with wheels. Furthermore, if it is for travel you could consider a duffel bag.

Leather Backpacks
The Garth Backpack

What Backpack Should You Choose

Choosing a backpack is a matter of preference. We cannot dictate what backpack you should buy. We can however at the very least give you a few tips to help you decide.


The most important factor. It is simple. If you wear it and it makes you uncomfortable then you should not buy it. Remember that years of innovating is not only for utility and function. It is also for comfort. Check the straps and the back for padding. Make sure to check if you are l with hip belts as well.

Durability and Material

Your bag should be made with high-quality material such as nylon, leather, or waxed canvas. The better the material the longer it will last. Strength also matters because of the demand to carry a heavier load. Likewise, be sure to check the stitching and the thread material. These small things will be crucial to the durability of your backpack.

Content Protection

While it is not really a necessity, it is still important. You may want to consider buying a water-resistant bag whenever you go outdoors. You may also want to consider bags with a padded laptop compartment or a laptop sleeve and pockets for other electronics.


Sometimes size matters. Find the right size the fits you. Many sources however suggest that the "right size" is one that is proportional to your body. It must also fit all the items you need to carry. Bag size range from extra small and small for torsos up to 18", medium and regular for torsos 18"-20", and large for those 20" and above.


Of course, you will need to buy a backpack that will fit the activity. You would not want to carry an oversized hiking bag to a quick weekend getaway, nor store a laptop inside a hydration backpack.


It is important to consider the organizational capabilities of the perfect backpack. Such that you may store your belongings without compromising on accessibility. You might also want to prefer a large backpack with multiple pockets or compartments. Or prefer those with an elastic side pocket.


Take note, that the quality of the materials should reflect the price. Do not compromise price over quality. However, do not reach too far that the bag is out of your budget. Find the right bag that is within your budget while still good quality materials.

If you are looking for a leather backpack come visit us as our shop. Just click on the link below.

Steel Horse Leather Co. | Store

Handmade Leather Bags

Latest Blog Posts