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5 Signs it's Time to Replace Your Rucksack

Is your pack still performing as it should? By Cotswold Outdoor
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It’s easy to get attached to a good rucksack. Maybe it’s travelled the world with you, or has accompanied you on some incredible adventures around your local hills, carrying your kit and providing essential support along the way. But once your rucksack is reaching the end of its life, it can become more and more of a burden. Don’t let your rucksack hamper your progress and spoil your adventures. Look out for these tell-tale signs to spot when it’s time to retire your trusty rucksack…

1. It Doesn't Fit You Properly

Perhaps you bought your pack years ago before a growth spurt, you’ve put on or lost some weight, or your pack’s just lost its shape over the years. Whatever the reason, if your rucksack doesn’t fit your back span or the hip belt doesn’t hug your hips like it should do, it may be time to move on.

A well-fitting rucksack will keep you comfortable, and avoid stress on your back which could lead to long-term damage. Take a look at our Rucksack Fitting Guide, or pop into one of our stores for a free rucksack fitting consultation to make sure your next pack fits like a glove.

2. It Weighs More than the Kit You're Carrying

The technologies used to craft rucksacks have come a long way in the last few years. Gone are the days of heavy external framed backpacks, with manufacturers now creating packs that are astonishingly light. If your trusty old pack feels heavier than the kit you’re putting inside it, it may be time to think about getting a new one. Get yourself to any Cotswold Outdoor store and spend some time trying on the latest packs. If you’re surprised by how light they are in comparison to yours, it’s probably a sign it’s time to upgrade!

3. You're Getting Aches and Pains Where You Weren't Before

An achy back after a long walk could mean your pack isn’t providing the support it should. A bag with a hip belt will shift 70-80% of the load you’re carrying onto your hips, meaning your shoulders shouldn’t be the only area supporting the weight. If you’re getting new aches in your shoulders or back after a long walk, consider opting for a more supportive pack. Back systems have improved a lot since the heavy metal frames of the previous century, providing much better support and weighing much less, so treat yourself to an upgraded model for the sake of your back.

two people wearing rucksacks in a forest

4. Your Bag's Tearing at the Seam or has a Broken Zip

Splitting seams or zips broken beyond repair are the most obvious sign that your pack is giving up the ghost. While small tears in the body fabric can be repaired, if you’re seeing major tears in the seam of your bag, or if one of the main zips has given up, it’s probably worth investing in a new one before your kit ends up all over the trail.

Before splashing out on a new bag, check your manufacturer’s warranty. Some brands like Osprey and Millican offer lifetime guarantees against manufacturer issues, so it’s well worth getting in touch before you purchase a new one.

5. It's Too Big, or Too Small, for Your Needs

Lugging around a 60 litre pack on short day hikes when you don’t need much kit can be a real pain. Equally, if you’re heading out for a few days at a time and your bag doesn’t have space for all the kit you need, you may want to re-invest in a larger one. Check out our Rucksack Buying Guide to find out the ideal pack size for your next adventure.


There are a few steps you can take to extend the life of your favourite rucksack:

Give it a wash – dirt, sweat and other nasties that build up on your rucksack can cause the fabric to deteriorate over time. Give your pack a wash using warm water and a gear cleaner a couple of times a year to keep it in tip-top condition.

Pack it properly – repeatedly stuffing your bag without care will cause unnecessary stress on the fabric. Find out about the right way to pack a rucksack to make every trip more comfortable, and to help look after your bag. Try not to overstuff your pack, as doing so can put additional strain on the bag.

Use all the straps – try to avoid slinging your pack over one shoulder too much, as this can damage the strap, and isn’t good for your back either. If your bag comes with chest straps and a hip belt, use them.

Time to Replace

If it’s time to let go and replace your rucksack we are here to help! Whatever your passion in the outdoors, there’s a rucksack with features and functions to match, and armed with the right information, you’ll be able to find the perfect pack to accompany your activity.

Why not pop into one of our stores for a free rucksack fitting from our expert staff, or have a browse online at our huge range of rucksacks?

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