Best Back Support Backpack UK | A Spiney’s Guide 
Why a back support backpack? Whether you’re a ‘spiney’ like me or not (two back surgeries plus countless injections, MRIs, painkillers, physio and the rest), you really do need to look after what holds you upright! Which is precisely why you need the best ergonomic backpack your hard-earned cash can buy.
It’s only after I had spinal surgery that I truly realised how much you use your back – as it’s pretty much out of action for weeks afterwards. Half an hour it took me, to stand up the morning after my first one, and that was with total concentration on the task and a not very empathetic nurse nagging me. (She changed her tune later when she realised how hard I was actually working and how major spinal surgery is.)
Despite that and the fact that the surgeries didn’t ‘cure’ my back pain, I very recently hiked across London from Waterloo to Euston while carrying a 35 litre backpack. With no additional back pain at all; in fact I struggled with sitting still later that day far more than I had with the walk.
I’d pick The North Face Borealis any day of the week because it’s built to last, has FlexVent suspension, is approved by the US Chiropractic Association, and is also the ideal size for many uses.
So I do know what to look for when buying the best backpack for back support. It also helps that I used to work in an outdoor shop – and have also done a lot of backpacking. In fact I still use backpacks to this day as my go-to bag of choice when packing for holidays, and own lots of day packs as well as my 35 and 65 litre ones.
Whether you need to find the best laptop backpack for back support, the best hiking backpacks for bad backs or want to see a range of backpacks with good back support for holidays, stay right here. This guide contains only backpacks that support your back, working with it rather than against it.
A good rucksack with back support will actually feel virtually weightless – even when you have a heavy load to carry. If you find carrying a backpack less comfortable than wheeling a suitcase, then you’ve not yet found the best backpack for back pain in the UK. Let’s change all that by getting started!
To make matters simple, products are listed in capacity order throughout this guide, from smallest to biggest.
Best back support backpack contents
- Best backpack with support comparison table
- Most supportive backpacks – top options
- Best back support rucksack – what to look for
- Best ergonomic backpack – recommendations
- Best rucksack with back support – FAQs
Best backpack with back support comparison chart
|Other key features
|Weightless feel, chest & waist straps, ultra lightweight
|Recycled fabric, 9 colours, mega seller
|Anatomical shoulder straps, V-shape, detachable belt
|Stretch pockets, easy pull zips, 5 colours
|Ventilated back, shock-absorbing straps, ergonomic handle
|3 year warranty, fits 17″ laptop, protective design
|North Face Borealis
|FlexVent suspension, Chiropractic Association endorsed
|Bungee cord, padded tablet sleeve, lined pocket
|High Sierra Loop
|Wide shoulder straps, suspension system, lightweight
|5 colours, lots of pockets, tablet sleeve
|Padded waist belt, adjustable straps, effective suspension
|Leading brand, sleek looks, good capacity
|AirSpeed system, tensioned back panel, female-specific
|Hip belt pockets, rain cover, hydration compatible
|Granite Gear Blaze
|Load lifter straps, ultra lightweight, padded hip belt
|Convertible chest pack, award winning design
|Male-specific, tensioned harness, AirSpeed suspension
|Rain cover, hydration compatible, hip belt pockets
|Teton Explorer 4000
|Adjustable size, internal frame, lumbar support pad
|Great value price, lots of storage, lifetime warranty
Best backpacks with back support – Top options
- Osprey Daylite 13L – Best for lighter loads
- Deuter Speedlite 20L – Best for freedom of movement
- Wenger Pegasus 25L – Best for carrying a computer
- The North Face Borealis 28L – Best all-round option
- High Sierra Loop 33L – Best for style & substance
- Osprey Farpoint 40L – Best for overnight adventures
- Osprey Renn 50L – Best for female-specific fit
- Granite Gear Blaze 60L – Best for detachable pack
- Osprey Rook 65L – Best for male-specific fit
- Teton Explorer 65L – Best for bagging a bargain
Best ergonomic backpack – What to look for
Any backpack will have shoulder straps, so what better place to start? You want to find wide straps to avoid digging in, and with a heavier load padding is also a plus. In the case of the biggest rucksacks in particular, adjustable straps are also a requirement to ensure a snug, comfortable fit.
Many larger packs will have a chest strap. This isn’t strictly necessary, I find (as I lost the one on my 35 litre pack years ago) but can help to ensure an even load distribution when you have a lot to carry. Some are detachable, giving you both options.
Waist or hip belt
This is much more important than a sternum strap. A decent padded hip belt made all the difference when I carried a backpack recently for some time, and I even secured it into place for ten-minute waits at the train station. It really does help you achieve a good fit and a weightless feel.
Even smaller packs may have integral suspension systems – if you know where to look (like in this guide). These are critical when you’re carrying a big load, unless you want it to feel like you’re being dragged down from behind.
The weight of the pack itself will of course contribute to the overall mass of your load. Some are made from ultra lightweight fabrics. The downside is that these may not be so tough or have as many pockets or features, so it can be a question of priorities.
A male or female version may help you achieve the best possible fit. It can be something to look for on packs with a larger capacity, though if they are fully adjustable it may not be necessary.
Other useful features
What about the other features you might want in a backpack – such as the capacity, storage including specific compartments for a laptop or table, or a rain cover? Do you like the design and colour enough for it to last?
Best ergonomic backpacks – Reviews & recommendations
Osprey Daylite 13L
Best for lighter loads
The uber-popular and ultra comfortable Osprey Daylite range knows no bounds, and this is one of the most popular sizes.
The Osprey Daylite is one of the biggest selling backpacks in the world. They do a kids’ version, male and female versions, a sling type, ‘Plus’ version… the list goes on.
These ultra lightweight backpacks with back support come in a range of colours and even though they’re small, have chest and waist straps to help spread the weight evenly. They’re also made from recycled fabric.
Somehow when wearing it you can barely feel it’s there, and there’s sufficient space and storage pockets for all your daily essentials.
- Mega popular
- Weightless feel
- Chest & waist straps
- Smallest option
Deuter Speedlite 20L
Best for freedom of movement
Even the zip-pulls on this are glove-friendly, but it’s mainly prized for its ergonomic and supremely comfortable fit.
If the best backpacks with back support for you are relatively small day-sized ones, then the Deuter Speedlite surely must be a contender. It comes in 4 colours, feels almost weightless and also allows for great freedom of movement.
The zippers have been designed for ease of use when wearing gloves, so it’s ideal for winter in the city or cold weather hiking. A detachable waist belt means carrying less when that isn’t necessary.
Anatomically shaped shoulder straps, stretch outer pockets, a chest strap and loops help to ensure the practicality of this pack from Deuter.
- Sporty V-shape
- Removable waist belt
- Anatomical shoulder straps
- Limited capacity
Wenger Pegasus laptop backpack 25L
Best for carrying a computer
This laptop backpack has a generous capacity and the sleeve has an anti-scratch lining. A 3 year guarantee is supplied.
If you want the best laptop backpack for back support then this is it – and it can accommodate a 17 inch laptop too. Good news for spineys, who need a larger laptop they don’t have to hunch over so much (yep, I’ve learned this from experience, though a desktop is ideal and what I use most of the time).
If you have a smaller laptop, there’s a 15 inch version too. The compartment is triple protected and even has an anti-scratch lining to protect your computer. A three year guarantee also helps sweeten the deal.
Even the grab handle on this is ergonomically designed, as are the shock-absorbing shoulder straps and the padded, well-ventilated back panel.
- 25 litre capacity
- Great ergonomics
- Ultra protective laptop compartment
- Less familiar brand
The North Face Borealis 28L
Best all-round option
Even though it’s only a relatively small rucksack, this North Face one has a FlexVent suspension system for no-drag carrying.
It’s somewhat unusual to find a suspension system on a smaller backpack. This is what really makes the Borealis from The North Face stand out as one of the best backpacks for back support. While it’s pretty expensive, trust me, it’s totally worth it to minimise back pain.
The Borealis is also endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, and the Flexvent suspension makes it ultra comfortable to carry. A front bungee strap also lets you carry items centrally, rather than dangling to one side, which also helps with even weight distribution.
There’s a padded tablet sleeve in the front compartment for your iPad and also a smaller fleece lined pocket for small gadgets. Two water bottle pockets to the sides are also useful for items you need to keep handy.
- American Chiropractic Association endorsed
- FlexVent suspension system
- Padded tablet sleeve
- It’s not cheap
High Sierra Loop 33L
Best for style and substance
The High Sierra Loop is an ultra lightweight backpack in 5 colours with suspension, lots of sections and a tablet sleeve.
Like the North Face one listed above, this is one of the best hiking backpacks for bad backs because it has a suspension system built into the design. Available in 5 colours, it also has lots of useful compartments.
A backpack with back support like this is ideal for everyday use or adventuring, whether that’s a city break or a camping trip to the countryside. It also has a specially designed tablet sleeve to protect your tech.
One happy customer even commented that he puts it through the washing machine to come up looking as good as new, so it’s clearly pretty robust.
- 5 colours
- Protective tablet sleeve
- Integral suspension system
- Not as rugged as some
Osprey Farpoint 40L
Best for overnight adventurers
The long weekend sized Osprey Farpoint offers a supportive carry, a streamlined look and an effective suspension system.
I love the neat design of an Osprey – and it’s not because I’m a bit of a twitcher, nor that my daughter’s class name is Ospreys this year. They just look so tidy – how could you be disorganised when carrying one of these?
There’s a supportive, padded hip belt – something I find essential when carrying a pack for any distance – and the shoulder straps are nicely cushioned too. These are of course adjustable to achieve a perfect fit, and again this is crucial. The suspension system is also very effective, making the load feel weightless.
Available in charcoal grey or cherry red, the Farpoint 40 from Osprey is ideally sized for a long weekend or even a week away (as long as you pack fairly light). Do Osprey make backpacks with the best back support? They’re a very strong contender for top of the list.
- Detachable day pack
- Cushioned hip belt for support
- Adjustable shoulder straps for a perfect fit
- No daisy chain
Osprey Renn 50L for women (or 65L)
Best for a female-specific fit
Another great backpack from Osprey, with a female-specific fit. There’s a rain cover and hydration sleeve built in.
The Osprey Renn has a female-specific fit, and in many cases these are the best supportive backpacks for women to buy. It comes in purple or grey, and has a tensioned back panel to lighten the load.
The Renn also comes with hip belt pockets, water bottle compartments and a built-in detachable rain cover. There is a sleeve inside for a hydration pack too. At the back, the AirSpeed system adjusts to your torso as you move.
This most supportive backpack also comes in a 65 litre size and a male-specific version (the Rook, as detailed below).
- Female specific fit
- Twin hip belt pockets
- Removable rain cover
- Not ideal for men
Granite Gear Blaze 60L
Best for detachable pack
Care has been taken to minimise weight with this adjustable fit Granite Gear backpack. It has a detachable chest pack too.
Admittedly this isn’t the sharpest-looking backpack – well not to me, anyway. But – as good backpacks for back support go, this has a lot in its favour. The straps on the shoulder harness, for starters, have a load lifting design to minimise strain when picking it up.
The weight has also been kept to a minimum here, with Granite Gear taking the view that every gram counts. A removable top compartment can even be converted to a chest pack for more even load bearing.
An Air Current frame also lets you adjust the pack to fit your exact torso measurements, while the padded back panel and hip belt add extra support.
- Ultra lightweight
- Load lifter shoulder straps
- Convertible top pocket/chest pack
- Uninspiring design
Osprey Rook 65L for men (or 50L)
Best for male-specific fit
This is a male-specific fit backpack from Osprey in a 50L or 65L size. The tensioned harness makes it feel weightless.
The Osprey Rook for men is the male equivalent of the Renn for women, and as well as this 65 litre size it also comes in a 50 litre size like the female one.
Osprey make some of the best backpacks for your back and the men’s Rook is a classic example. It has an adjustable, tensioned harness to ensure a comfortable carry and a weightless feel, and is also compatible with a water reservoir.
A detachable rain cover, two hip belt pockets, mesh water bottle sleeves and a choice of green or black complete the picture.
- Male specific fit
- Water pack compatible
- Tensioned support harness
- Not designed for women
Teton Sports Explorer 4000 65L
Best for bagging a bargain
This backpack offers great value for money. It has a foam back pad to cushion your lumbar region plus an adjustable frame.
Teton Sports are known for their internal frame backpacks, so if you want a backpack with support frame to travel with this could be the one. The product description says it’s ideal for 2 to 5 day trips, which made me laugh. I went around Australia for an entire year with a 65 litre rucksack! I guess it depends on what you’re carrying…
To save your back, there’s a foam lumbar pad with open cell construction, an adjustable hip belt and best of all is the fact that the frame can be adjusted to suit your exact size. There are lots of storage compartments too, plus daisy chains and loops.
This pack is hydration ready, has a lifetime warranty and offers great value for money.
- Lifetime warranty
- Fully adjustable support frame
- Daisy chains, loops & lots of pockets
- Budget looks
Best rucksack with back support – FAQs
What backpacks are best for back pain?
The top backpacks for back pain offer good support, decent padding and above all can hlep to make your load feel weightless. Features to look for include adjustable shoulder straps, a cushioned back panel, chest and waist belts and good suspension. They may also be very lightweight, or have a gender-specific fit.
Are backpacks good for back pain?
Carrying a backpack rather than a handbag, tote bag or suitcase is one of the best things you can do for your back. This is because it distributes the load evenly, has padding to protect the back and is designed to be kind to your spine.
Which bag is best for posture?
A good backpack should help you to achieve good posture. It can help you stand straight and upright, inseatd of being weighed down by a bag that’s worn to one side. The comfort provided will also help you to stand tall and proud.
What is an ergonomic backpack?
The principle of ergonomics is about fitting the product or equipment to each user. It means that items are designed to protect the back, joints and muscles, avoiding unnecessary strain, discomfort and injury.
Which is the best back support backpack for you?
Backpacks are so good for your bag – apart from the occasional cross body bag, I personally use little else, even on a daily basis! It’s a great investment even for those without spinal issues, as prevention is so much better than cure. Take it from one who’s had major spinal surgery. Twice!
You might also like to read my articles on:
- Best orthopedic shoes for women
- Top camp beds for bad backs
- Great rolling duffel bags
- Comfy reclining camp chairs
- Gifts for hikers
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