Difference Between Rucksack Backpack and Knapsack

Rucksack Backpack vs Knapsack

Many different words are used for a bag that is carried by people over their shoulders in the form of a sack. The most common term for such a sack that is made of canvas or any other sturdy material is backpack. There are other terms such as rucksack and knapsack also used for such a bag that is secured over the bag with the help of straps going across one’s shoulders. Many people remain confused between a backpack, a rucksack, and a knapsack. This article attempts to find out the differences between these three sacks that are all carried over one’s shoulder and meant to carry different items.

As the name implies, backpack is a sack that is carried on one’s back, to help in carrying various items inside it. Carrying items on one’s back is considered easier than carrying them in a handbag. One can carry larger weights over his back for a longer time than carrying them on one shoulder or in front of his body. It was in the early part of the 20th century that the word backpack was introduced in US. Rucksack is a word that originated in Germany. It is a combination of ruck that means back in German and sack that is a bag or sac in German. The word knapsack comes from the German knappen (to bite) and sack.


The three words rucksack, knapsack, and backpack all refer to the same bag carried over one’s back secured over the shoulder with the help of two straps. Rucksack originated in Germany while backpack was coined for the bag carried over one’s bag in early 20th century. Knapsack also comes from a German word knappen that means to bite and sack that means a bag.