What Size Backpack for Backpacking You Need in 2023

Choosing the right backpack size is essential when embarking on a backpacking adventure. A well-fitted backpack can make your journey comfortable and convenient, while an ill-fitting one can lead to discomfort and strain. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the perfect backpack size for your backpacking needs in 2023. So, let’s delve into the world of backpack sizes and find out which one suits you best.


Backpacking is an exhilarating experience that allows you to explore new places, embrace adventure, and reconnect with nature. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a long-term expedition, having the right backpack size is crucial for a successful trip. In this article, we will provide you with valuable insights and expert recommendations to help you determine the ideal backpack size for your specific needs.

What Size Backpack for Backpacking You Need in 2023

Understanding the Importance of Choosing the Right Backpack Size

The size of your backpack can significantly impact your overall backpacking experience. A backpack that is too small may not accommodate all your essential gear, leaving you unprepared and frustrated. On the other hand, an oversized backpack can lead to excessive weight and discomfort, hindering your mobility and causing strain on your body. Therefore, it is vital to understand the significance of selecting the right backpack size to optimize your comfort, convenience, and enjoyment during your backpacking journey.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Backpack Size

Several factors come into play when determining the appropriate backpack size for your needs. Consider the following aspects to make an informed decision:

Trip Duration and Destination

The duration and destination of your backpacking trip play a significant role in determining the size of your backpack. A weekend getaway may require a smaller pack, while a multi-day or long-term expedition demands a larger capacity to accommodate all your gear and supplies.

Personal Gear and Clothing

Evaluate the amount and type of gear you will be carrying. If you’re an ultralight backpacker with minimal gear, a smaller backpack might suffice. However, if you plan to bring specialized equipment or bulky items, a larger backpack with extra space is essential.

Body Type and Comfort

Consider your body type and comfort requirements. Individuals with broader shoulders or longer torsos may need backpacks specifically designed to accommodate their proportions. Additionally, adjustable suspension systems can provide a customized fit for enhanced comfort.

Weight Distribution and Load Capacity

The weight distribution and load capacity of a backpack are critical for maintaining balance and reducing strain on your body. A well-designed backpack will distribute weight evenly and offer a comfortable load-carrying experience, preventing excessive strain on your shoulders, back, and hips.

Determining the Ideal Backpack Capacity

Backpack sizes are often measured in liters, indicating the volume of space the pack can hold. The appropriate backpack capacity depends on your specific needs. Let’s explore the different sizes available:

Daypacks and Small Backpacks

Daypacks and small backpacks typically range from 15 to 30 liters in capacity. These compact options are ideal for day trips, short hikes, or city explorations when you only need to carry essentials such as water, snacks, a camera, and a light jacket.

Medium-Sized Backpacks

Medium-sized backpacks, ranging from 30 to 50 liters, are suitable for weekend getaways or shorter backpacking trips. They provide enough space to accommodate clothing, camping gear, and personal items, making them versatile and convenient for a range of adventures.

Large Backpacks and Expedition Packs

For longer expeditions or trips lasting a week or more, larger backpacks with capacities of 50 liters or more are recommended. These packs offer ample space for gear, clothing, food, and other essentials required for extended periods in the wilderness.

Tips for Properly Fitting and Adjusting Your Backpack

Once you’ve determined the appropriate backpack size, it’s crucial to ensure a proper fit and adjust it accordingly. Follow these tips for a comfortable and secure backpacking experience:

  1. Measure Your Torso Length: To find a backpack that fits your torso length, measure from the base of your neck to the top of your hip bones. Refer to manufacturer sizing charts to select the right backpack size for your torso length.
  2. Adjust the Shoulder Straps: The shoulder straps should be snug but not too tight. They should distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders and allow for natural movement.
  3. Tighten the Hip Belt: The hip belt should sit on your hip bones, not your waist. It should be tightened to bear the majority of the pack’s weight, relieving strain from your shoulders.
  4. Stabilize the Load: Properly adjust the load-lifter straps, sternum straps, and hip belt stabilizers to stabilize the backpack and prevent excessive movement while walking.

Additional Features and Considerations

In addition to size, several other factors and features should be considered when choosing a backpack for backpacking:

Backpack Suspension Systems

Backpacks come with various suspension systems that affect comfort and weight distribution. Look for adjustable shoulder straps, load-lifter straps, and hip belts that can be customized to your body shape and size.

Access and Organization

Consider the accessibility and organization of compartments and pockets in the backpack. Easy access to frequently used items and efficient organization can enhance your overall backpacking experience.

Material and Durability

The material and construction of the backpack impact its durability and weather resistance. Look for backpacks made from durable, lightweight, and water-resistant materials to ensure the longevity and protection of your belongings.

Weight and Portability

The weight of the backpack itself is a crucial consideration, especially if you aim to minimize the overall weight you carry. Opt for lightweight materials and streamlined designs without compromising on durability and functionality.

What Size Backpack for Backpacking You Need: Expert Recommendations 

While individual preferences may vary, experts generally suggest the following backpack sizes based on trip duration:

  • Day trips and short hikes: 15-30 liters
  • Weekend getaways: 30-50 liters
  • Multi-day expeditions: 50+ liters

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Choosing a Backpack Size

When selecting a backpack size, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can lead to discomfort or inconvenience during your backpacking adventure. Here are some pitfalls to steer clear of:

  1. Choosing a Backpack Too Small: Underestimating the amount of gear and supplies you need can result in a cramped and disorganized backpack. Ensure your backpack has enough space to comfortably accommodate all your essentials.
  2. Opting for a Backpack Too Large: While it’s essential to have enough room for your gear, an excessively large backpack can tempt you to overpack and carry unnecessary items. Stick to a size that suits your needs without going overboard.
  3. Ignoring Fit and Comfort: A well-fitted backpack is crucial for comfort and proper weight distribution. Don’t overlook the importance of adjustable suspension systems and straps that can be customized to your body shape.
  4. Neglecting Weight Distribution: Improper weight distribution can strain your body and cause discomfort. Ensure that the majority of the load is supported by your hips through a well-fitted hip belt, relieving pressure from your shoulders.
  5. Not Considering Accessibility and Organization: Easy access to essential items and efficient organization within the backpack can save you valuable time and frustration. Look for backpacks with well-designed compartments and pockets to keep your gear easily accessible.


Choosing the right backpack size is a crucial step in preparing for your backpacking adventure. By considering factors such as trip duration, personal gear, body type, and comfort, you can determine the ideal backpack capacity for your specific needs. Remember to prioritize fit, weight distribution, and additional features when making your selection. With the perfect backpack size, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your backpacking journey with comfort, convenience, and confidence.

FAQs – What Size Backpack for Backpacking You Need in 2023

1. What if I’m unsure about the backpack size I need?

If you’re uncertain about the backpack size you need, it’s recommended to visit a local outdoor gear store. The knowledgeable staff can assist you in measuring your torso length and guide you in selecting the appropriate backpack size based on your needs.

2. Can I use a larger backpack for a shorter trip?

Using a larger backpack for a shorter trip is possible, but it may result in carrying unnecessary weight. It’s generally more comfortable and convenient to choose a backpack that closely matches the size needed for your specific trip to optimize your packing and overall experience.

3. Are there any specific backpack sizes for women?

Many backpack manufacturers offer women-specific backpacks designed to fit the female anatomy more comfortably. These backpacks often feature narrower shoulder straps, shorter torso lengths, and contoured hip belts to better accommodate women’s bodies.

4. How can I accurately measure my torso length for a backpack?

To measure your torso length, start by finding the bony bump at the base of your neck. Then, using a flexible tape measure, measure down your spine to the top of your hip bones. This measurement will help you select a backpack with an appropriate torso length for a better fit.

5. Is it possible to adjust the size of a backpack if needed?

Most backpacks offer some level of adjustability, allowing you to fine-tune the fit. However, it’s important to select a backpack that matches your torso length as closely as possible from the beginning. Adjustments can help optimize the fit, but they have limitations and may not compensate for significantly incorrect sizes.

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