Here we review the best backpack choices for anyone suffering from back pain. According to NHS England, back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK population.
According to the British Pain Society, approximately 8 million adults in the UK report chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling, and overall it costs £10 billion for the UK economy.
There are many causes for back pain and include sport's injuries and poor posture to name just a couple. When it comes to carrying backpacks, there are three main reasons why they can cause back pain:
- Carrying an overloaded backpack
- Carrying the backpack over one shoulder
- Having too much of the backpack carried below the waistline
We don't pretend to be experts on back pain and would certainly never be placed to offer any diagnosis, but we do know backpacks. That's why we are happy to offer advice on the important issues such as ergonomically friendly backpacks, and important features such as back support, good balance, padding and the right shoulder straps.
The North Face Borealis Backpack
96% buyer satisfaction based on 1,600+ online buyer reviews
The North Face's suspension system features a flexible yoke built from custom injection-molded shoulder straps
There is great support from the padded back panel and a highly breathable lumbar panel thats approved by the chiroprators association
You get all you would expect in the way of pockets, zippers and compartments but really its biggest benefit is how easy it is on your back
Definitely the number one choice if your back is weak
Osprey Farpoint 40 Outdoor & Trekking Rucksack
94% buyer satisfaction based on 2,600+ online buyer reviews
The shoulder and back padding on this model provide a comfortable, breathable contact surface with a load supporting core large panel
It also has a very handy luggage strap that allows you to carry it over your shoulder when you back gets tired
I found this backpack spread the weight very evenly on my back. It has several compartments for weight distribution which make it easier to balance the contents
Also the two internal compression straps hold contents securely and stop them moving around
Nomatic 40L Travel Bag
92% buyer satisfaction based on 300+ online buyer reviews
I loved this backpack though it's a bit expensive for me!
The balance and weight distribution is superb, making it easy to carry even when its full
At 21" x 14"x 9"(53cm x 36cm x 23cm) and weighing (2KGS) its quite large but I found it very comfortable to carry
It can take a massive 40L so you need to make sure you don't overload it or make it too heavy
Comes with many features like, water bottle pocket, valuables pocket, RFID protected pocket, shoe compartment, cord organizer, laptop pocket, tablet pocket, and notebook pocket
Also it's fully waterproof
Thule Subterra Backpack
96% buyer satisfaction based on 100+ online buyer reviews
Again this is quite a large bag at 21" x 14"x 9"(53cm x 36cm x 23cm) and weighing 2KGS
It also has a capacity of 40L though its a bit less bulky and is a more reasonable price than the previous backpack.The shoulder pads and back support are excellent. Letting you carry a heavy load easily and for a long period
You get all the standard features such as water bottle pocket, valuables pocket, RFID protected pocket, shoe compartment, cord organizer, laptop pocket, tablet pocket, and notebook pocket
Berghaus Unisex Twnty4Seven Plus Backpack 25 Litre
94% buyer satisfaction based on 2,000+ online buyer reviews
This is one of the biggest sellers and basically its down to the price
I liked this model and it was very good over short periods of time
The shoulder pads are good, breatheable and the back support wasnt bad either, though I found my back still sweated a bit
I would recommend it for short trips when youe haven't too far to carry it
Definitely a cheaper option that will do a good job
Backpack for Pain Buying Guide
There are lots of backpacks available on the UK market. There are of course many important features that someone suffer from back pain should consider. The obvious ones are the quality of the padding, the comfort of the straps and how well the weight is balanced across the shoulders and back.
Buying Tips to Avoid Back Pain
Bad design can be really hard and bad on the neck, shoulders and back. Finding the right size of backpack and a good ergonomic design will really help alleviate many of those problems.
Ideally you want a pack that has S-curve padded shoulder straps, padded back panels and compression straps. If you are going to use the backpack for camping or hiking, then look for internal frames, hip and sternum belts, compression straps and anti-gravity suspension.
Generally speaking, backpacks are used mainly for backpacking, hiking or when camping. However that is simply no longer the case. These days they are used for a whole variety of purposes. These include:
- Hiking & Camping
- Traveling - day trips, weekend trips, longer trips
- Hand luggage - this includes at airports and also as carry on luggage, TSA friendly, and anti-theft backpacks
- For business and especially for carrying laptops of different sizes (14-14.9", 15-15.9", 16-16.9" and 17"+) and daily commuting
- For college and school
- For sports of all types including going to the gym
- For cyclists
- For fishing
- As a fashion accessory including designer backpacks
As you can see from the list above, backpacks are so much more than just for the traditional uses of hiking and camping.
General Backpack Buying Questions?
- Which type of backpack do you need?
- How will the backpack fit?
- What size or capacity is the backpack?
- What features do you want in your backpack?
- What fabric the backpack is made from?
- Do you have a preferred look or appearance for your backpack?
- Do you have a preferred brand?
Backpack Capacity Comparison Guide
- 18 litre backpacks measure 18 x 9 x 7" and are ideal for cycling, running or light hiking
- 20 litres is a very small backpack
- 23 litre capacity measure about 19 x 13 x 5" and will hold books, notebooks, writing instruments and a laptop
- 33 litre capacity measure about 19 x 14 x 8.5" are good for daily business use and will have various compartments, padded straps and a laptop
- 33-35 litres measure about 19 x 11 x 6" and they are good for carry on luggage (On average about 10 Kg when packed) or a hiking daypack
- 39 litres measure about 21 x 13 x 9" and is good for a universal backpack and most of these are expandable
- 50 litres measure about 23 x 15 x 8.5 and are ideal for hiking and camping
It is never simple to be 100% accurate about the size or capacity of a backpack. That is because the many makers of these use different rules to measure the actual capacity.
The best definition, and the one that most manufacturers use, is to measure the volume of their backpacks by adding up the total volume of the closed storage on their packs. That includes the main compartment, and the various pockets on the pack.
Some smaller manufacturers will include open pockets like side water bottle pockets or rear mesh pockets in addition to the closed storage. It isn't always easy to directly compare like for like.
Backpack capacity is measured in liters, and in all honesty, that type of measurement doesn't really help most people. which is why we have helped explain what it really means in the above table.
Safety is of course one of the important ones. Any bag can be broken into is the thief has enough time. However what these types of bag do is make it very difficult to break into.
The types of pickpocket you see in airports, ports, train and bus stations take advantage of travellers being distracted.
That allows them to get easy access to pockets and bags. If you make these tough for them to get into, then they will more than likely leave you alone.
Typically these bags have seams covering the main zipper area. Most of them use the material on the straps to do that. In addition to that, they will also be rip resistant, and some of them will be anti-slash.
A favourite trick of thieves is to use a sharp knife to slash the bottom of the bag, and then quickly remove items inside. An anti-slash bag will stop that.
Locks and Zippers
A big weakness in most luggage is the quality of the zippers. Not only do these come off, but they can often stick and jam. Always look for good quality metal zippers, ideally dual zippers, that can be pulled together, and then a lock attached to the ends of the zippers.
Many of these, but not all, will have hidden compartments. These can be useful especially for important documentation.
This does need quite a lot of thought. Over the years backpacks have become much better designed and manufacturers have added many features. We have listed the main ones below:
- Size of the main compartment - this is one of the most important features and is often overlooked.
- Padded straps - these provide comfort when carrying the backpack. They should be wide and comfortable to stop them digging into your shoulders.
- Water bottle pocket - some people prefer to have a water bottle or drink's holder. This is available on some backpacks, and on some models there are a couple of these, usually on the side of the pack
- USB charging - today a lot of backpacks come with a charging point using a USB to charge up phones etc.