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Your Guide to Buying the Best Sports Backpack

Your Guide to Buying the Best Sports Backpack

If you're looking for the best sports backpack, look no further.

In this guide we'll explain the history of backpacks - which date long before gym bags - and how to choose the best sports backpack for you, your child or as a gift for a friend or loved one.

Who are Sports Backpacks For?

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Backpacks have traditionally been associated with school kids and the hardcore streetwear nuts but like with every piece of fashion and gear, they have evolved with the times. From the young ones to the ninety-somethings, backpacks are now being more generally embraced by adults. It is the quintessential item to have if you are a smart casual guy, girl or a fitness freak.

A backpack is one of the most versatile pieces of gear that you can have. The beauty with the backpack lies in this versatility. It can serve many functions for everyone and can be put into numerous uses ranging from hiking to sports, work, carrying your books and laptops.

That versatility also means that you have to select the right backpack that is fit for the purpose. Some backpacks will be ideally suited for certain situations and use-cases and not necessarily for others. If you are shopping for a new backpack, either for your kid's sports practice or games or your own sporting needs, you have to think about the intended use-case.

Traditionally, backpacks were the practical utilitarian items without much flair, coloring or accessories. The modern take, with their common shapeshifter designs, take it a notch higher by incorporating fashion and style. If you are shopping for the best sports backpack, you will find it hard to ignore the variety of stylistic inspirations.

Backpacks have not always been used for sports. The first ones were developed for use by the military. The second generation were built for school kids before they eventually streamed into more mainstream uses. Today we put them into every use imaginable.

A Brief History of the Backpack

The first backpacks were probably developed in the late 19th century for the U.S. Army which used them to carry their field kits and distribute the weights of the items they carried more evenly. They were robust and rugged rucksacks that were made from a canvas material set in a steel frame. As you can imagine, they were the cruder and clunkier ancestors of the modern backpacks but they still got the job done.

The design improved over the years. The first take on the modern backpack emerged in the late 1930s when the first backpacks made from functional fabrics hit the market. Instead of canvas and steel frames, these now had lighter fabric materials and had zippers for the first time.

The 1960s saw the first truly modern rucksacks as we know them today. These were designed for kids and for the very first time, children discarded the antiquated book bags, a relic of the old, for the new cool backpacks. They were also lighter, easy to carry and had a playful two-strap design.

Types of Backpacks

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There are different kinds of backpacks that you can purchase for your sporting needs: 

  • Daypacks: These are designed for hikers and campers going on short trails and trips. The daypacks are light in weight. They are also frameless or soft backed.
  • Sports backpacks: As the name suggests, these are backpacks that have been specifically designed for porting use-cases. They have lots of compartments where you can store the equipment, water bottles and footwear. We will discuss them in greater detail.
  • School backpacks: The traditionally school backpacks are used to carry stationary including books, papers as well as travel accessories. Like the daypacks, the sports backpacks are generally frameless. They also feature internal pockets that you can use for extra organization.
  • Internal frame packs: Use these for the long hikes. They are built with rigid frames that help balance the load.
  • External frame packs: These have been designed to support the heavy loads via harnesses and an attached pack. The external frame packs do not lean on your back so you can carry them on your back in hot weather while still staying cool.
  • Hydration packs: The hydration packs are made to supply you with water on the move. They feature a tube with a non-leaking valve through which you can drink water.

How to Choose the Best Sports Backpack

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If you are in the market for the best sports backpack or gym bags for your hiking, cycling, swimming and other sports, there is a wide selection that you can go with to help you tackle your outdoors lifestyle.

Before you begin shopping for a sports backpack or rucksack, you need to consider your individual needs. Will you be using them strictly for your trail supplies? Are you planning to hold other items such as an iPad or a laptop? What kind of gym supplies are you planning to carry in your sports backpack?

You will have to choose the best sports backpack that will help you handle all that your adrenaline-filled days will throw at you.

Irrespective of your daily routine, you will need a sports backpack that is not only comfortable but also functional. Sports-specific bags enable you to handle a diverse array of sports gear and equipment.

If you want to take on the trail, you can go with daypacks along with the frame packs that have been manufactured by some of the top brands. These can give you an assurance of quality.

If you love doing the morning physical routines such as a morning run, you can zip up your essentials in a sleek fanny pack. If you are looking for a sports bag for your more extended outings, you can go for the more heavy-duty backpacks such as the hydration packs that you can use to store some water and keep yourself replenished on the go.

Some travelers love the convenience that comes with the wheeled backpack options. If you are going some for some less strenuous studio sessions, you can use the totes or yoga bags.

Boaters and kayakers can choose the dry bags. These are ideal pieces of backpacks for such outdoor activities as they allow you to keep all your prized essentials moisture-free as you embark on a very water-filled outing.

There are lots of top-quality sports bags that are designed for kids.

Here is a look at some of the key consideration to keep in mind when you are shopping for the best sports backpack: 

What to Look For In a Sports Backpack

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What Will You Use It For?

There is such a diverse array of backpacks to pick from that you are likely to struggle finding one that suits your needs. Whether you a soccer mom shopping for your child’s backpack or a sports fanatic looking for a grown-up backpack, there are certain basic things that you need to consider when choosing a backpack.

Consider the intended purpose of the backpack. As we have already seen, there are backpacks suited for various activities. You will find one that will work best with light morning runs or workouts, extended outings, hiking, swimming, boating and so forth. When shopping for a backpack, it is also important to weigh the ergonomics of the gear versus its aesthetics.

While some backpacks will be suited for specific uses, you can also purchase multitaskers that you can put to different uses ranging from the regular commutes and work to gym and evening runs. The multitaskers also need to have certain functional elements like a breathable mesh back panel that protects your shirts from those embarrassing poplin sweat parches. The backpack also needs to have adjustable padded straps for cushioning the load you are carrying.

The Straps

Look at the straps. For the sports backpacks, go for ones that are stiff enough to provide support for all the weight of the gear that you will carry without sagging. Sagging backpacks make one feel uncomfortable while on the go. Some of the best backpack straps are the contoured and S-curve straps as they offer users a smooth, comfortable and ergonomic fit.

Look for the foam on the shoulder of the backpacks as well as on the hip belts to offer you some added cushion when you are carrying heavy sports gear. Lined mesh straps are also great for sports applications as they help in keeping the sports backpack breathable on the shoulders.

For the best support during your high-adrenaline activities, go for the backpacks with compression-molded straps.

Sizes and Fit

Topmost in your considerations when shopping for the best sports backpack should be its volume. How much can it carry? That will depend on the type and scope of your sporting or outdoor activities.

The volume of the backpack is its capacity in liters. It also refers to the frame size of the pack with regards to the build. There is no one size fits all when shopping for a sports backpack. If you are soccer mom shopping for your child’s sports backpack, you will undoubtedly have to go for a smaller-sized one with an excellent fit.

If you are shopping for technical sports backpacks, you can find these in different sizes based on the length of your torso. Every manufacturer has their unique way of calculating the length of the torso. If you are unsure about the right size to go for, talk to the customer support to help you find your perfect fit. You can also talk to the store to determine how to adjust the backpack for the most comfortable fit.

When looking for the right fit, you should also consider the gender. Some backpacks have been specifically designed for women. Others are built for specific sports so if you are shopping for one, ensure that it is compatible with the sporting activity that you are engaging in.

However, most backpacks will be adjustable and adaptable. They come with the capability to adjust the sizes by either tightening or loosening their hipbelt and shoulder straps to get the right fit.

For a backpack that you can use for a day of hiking, you can go for a pack with a volume ranging from 10 to 25 liters. This allows you to fit in your water bottle, sunscreen, jacket and other small items.

If you are shopping for a sport backpack for more extended usage such as more than a day of hiking, you can choose one with volume ranging from 20 to 35 liters. Multi-day hikes will invariably require that you pack in more gear and equipment to stay safe and that requires a larger volume backpack.

For an even more extended outdoor adventure lasting more than 3 days, go for a backpack with a minimum carrying capacity of 35 liters. This allows you to pack not only the hiking essentials and equipment but also extras such as cooking equipment. The longer your hike is, the higher the probability that you will encounter many unpredictable events and you ought to be prepared. With a bigger and heavier backpack, you can pack in all the equipment that you need to enjoy a complete peace of mind.

It is not just the size and design that determines the comfort of the backpack. How you load it will also have a bearing on how comfortable it wears. If you distribute the weight on the sports backpack more evenly, you can make the pack more comfortable and ensure everything packed in there is almost intuitively accessible.

Features, Pockets and Attachments

Check if the backpack has the exterior features that will comfortably support your outdoor activities. For example, does it feature rain cover? Is it an all-weather backpack? Does it provide you with an easy access to its reservoir pocket? You will need to quickly access your water when you are in the midst of energy-sapping outdoorsy activities. If you will be using the backpack for your hikes, it should have a hiking pole attachment loop.

Apart from these, you can also look out for extra features such like attachment points where you can pack in extra items like a daisy chain and an ice axe if you are going on a hike. It should also feature several external gear loops where you can attach gear like helmets, crampons and sleeping bags.

If you will be packing in lots of stuff, choose backpacks with load lifter straps to offer you the extra comfort. Backpacks with adjustable suspensions will easily adjust to fit to your torso. If you are shopping for a women’s backpack, then it should have specific adjustments to suit different types of body builds.

For the interior, the backpack should have such as features as multiple compartments to pack in multiple small items. It should also have a bladder sleeve for your hydrati0on as well as a key clip or valuables pocket where you can store your valuables.

Cost, Quality and Durability

Cost is undoubtedly an important factor when shopping for the best sports backpack. Ultimately, you will only purchase the backpack that you can afford.

The costliest sports backpack isn’t necessarily the most ideal. The cost is, however, generally correlated to factors such as the quality of materials that it has been made from along with the range of features that it offers. The amount that you are willing to spend on a backpack will be dependent on your budget as well as your current and future needs.

If you need the backpack for some short runs and light sports activities, you don’t have to spend a fortune on the premium and technical packs. However, if the backpack will be put through some exerting uses, then you will need to invest in a bigger and premium quality backpack that will last. A sports backpack that has been crafted from a hard-wearing nylon material will generally be costlier than one made from a polyester material even though it is not necessarily more durable. 


For a style freak, styling will certainly be top on the list when shopping for a sports backpack. If you will also be using it for work and pairing it with some casual clothing such as sneakers and sweaters, you can shop for one as a sharp fashion accessory. Don’t be too focused on the style that you forget the utilitarian aspect.

If you are going for multitaskers, choose backpacks that are made from nylon. There are also sports backpacks made from sleek leather that are perfect for a more relaxed dress code. You can choose the woven or canvas styles which are cheap and look cool.

One of the best sports backpacks is the Picante Pack gym backpack. It is a versatile backpack and offers a perfect way of organizing all your sports gear when going on various kinds of outdoor activities. It is a must-have fitness accessory for swimmers, OCR, athletes, cyclists, triathletes, runners and crossfitters among others.

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The Picante Pack can be used both as a gym backpack as well as a race bag that can be used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It perfectly separates your items so if you want to separate your dirty and sweaty gear from the crisp clean ones, this sports backpack will do the job.

The Picante Pack is lightweight and includes plenty of uber-functional features such as a shoe compartment, plenty of compartments and pockets where you can put your gear as well as a removable and waterproof wet-dry pocket.

Below is a summary of its features: 

  • A shoe compartment with a zipper
  • The outer shell is water-resistant
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • It features a detachable wet/dry pocket that is zippered and also waterproof
  • Has multiple inner pockets where you can store your wallet, keys and phone among others.
  • Made from stain-resistant materials
  • Features two outer pockets where you can place your nutrition bars and water bottles.

The adjustable straps on the Picante Pack give you a good fit around the shoulders. They also have a hanging hook that you can use to hang them in a locker room during an outdoor fitness or door post event. The outer shell of the backpack is water-resistant to protect your outdoor or fitness gear and equipment from light rain or splashes of water. The backpack also features an inner waterproof pocket where you can store your wet bathing suits and items such as toiletries.

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