What Size Backpack Do I Need? Here's How to Pick the Right Pack for Your Back

... Credit :
Jane Taylor in Fashion

Last updated: 09 January 2020, 10:50 GMT

A backpack is an incredibly simple item, and yet it is one of the best inventions ever. It allows you to take a variety of different items and supplies and transport them effortlessly and easily from one place to another.

If you are planning a trip and need to take a backpack, you might be asking what size backpack do I need?

What Size Backpack Do I Need?

To find the answer to this question, there are several things that you need to consider. These include the activity you will be doing, the weather conditions, and how long you are going to be gone. After you know this information, you can then find the backpack that will work for you.

How Is Backpack Size Measured?

In general, backpacks are measured two ways: by volume and by specific dimensions. The volume measurement will tell you exactly how much the backpack can hold, and this is often given in liters or cubic inches. The dimensions are often given in height, width, length, and depth.


There is no standard when it comes to whether or not a backpack's volume is given in liters or cubic inches. This is decided by the manufacturer. Some will choose to include both measurements. The number is determined by calculating exactly how much every compartment on the backpack can store. If there are several compartments or pockets, these will be combined with the main storage area to give the volume.


For these measurements, the height, width, length, and depth are measured and reported. You may need to know these to determine where the backpack will hit you when you place it on your body and if it fits into size parameters for traveling. It may or may not help you determine how much stuff you can fit inside.

Why Size Is Important

Having a larger backpack isn't necessarily more advantageous than having a smaller one. You will be able to fit more items, but this could also make the backpack heavier and awkward to carry. When you are asking what size backpack do I need, you need to find the one that will work for your body size and your abilities.

If you get the wrong-sized backpack, this could lead to back pain. You probably don't want to deal with this, so taking the time to find the one that will hold all you need it to hold, keep you balanced, and keep you comfortable is important. This may require doing some research and taking measurements before buying a backpack.

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How to Choose the Right Backpack

If you are asking what size backpack do I need, then you probably have a specific task in mind that you will be using it for. Whether you are hiking in a local area or venturing to exotic locals around the world, there are certain things you need to consider when looking for a backpack.

To find the right one, you'll need to keep these things in mind:

Body Type

Everyone's body type is different, so you'll have to find a backpack that isn't too large or too small for your frame. Again, if the backpack falls into one of these extremes, it could cause a lot of discomforts. Thus, you'll want to find a backpack that fits your torso. To do this, you'll need to take measurements.

Using a flexible measuring tape, you'll need to measure from the base of your neck (right near your shoulders) to the top of your hipbones. You may need assistance with this process, so have a friend or family member help you. Make sure your back is straight when you take this measurement, and it will give you the length of your torso.

You may also want to measure the width of your hips, as this is where most of the weight will settle on your body. To do this, you will wrap the flexible tape measure around the upper part of your hips, usually right above the beltline.

Ideally, you want a backpack that doesn't ride too high above your shoulders or too far below your hips. If it goes above your head, this may make you bend your neck forward to avoid hitting the backpack. This could cause strain and pain in your neck and head.

Should the backpack fall below your hips, this can impede your ability to walk and maneuver. It's recommended that you find a backpack that sits in the spot between your neck and your hips for the perfect fit.

Weight Capacity

In addition to finding the measurements of your torso, you'll also need to consider how much weight you and the backpack can carry. Larger backpacks are often rated to carry more weight. However, this could make it impossible for you to carry. There are also some smaller items, such as cooking implements, that can also add a lot of weight to your backpack but don't need a larger backpack to carry.

When considering the weight capacity of you and your backpack, you'll need to think about the items you are bringing with you. You'll have to decide if they are all necessary and the best way to transport them. Heavy backpacks can take a toll on your body, including your shoulders and your back, but the weight can also tear the material or straps.

Weather Conditions

It's also important to know what type of weather conditions you might be exposed to while on your trip. During the summer you'll need more space for water to stay hydrated. During the fall, you will need room for extra layers of clothes. If you are taking an excursion in the winter, then you will need room for snowshoes and multiple layers of clothes.

If you plan on being exposed to rainy weather, you'll need the space for clothes to keep you dry, but you'll also want a backpack that can withstand water. If the items in your backpack get soaked, this could have a serious impact on your comfort and warmth! You may need a cover for your backpack, but then you'll also need the space to carry it.

How You Pack

Not only should you be asking what size backpack do I need, but you should also be considering how you pack it. This could have an impact on the size you get. There are many different ways to pack a bag, including folding or rolling your clothes or placing items inside based on their weight.

This process is based on personal preference, but it determines the size of the backpack you need. You may consider experimenting with different ways to pack to ensure that you can fit all of the supplies into your backpack. Remember, you don't want a pack that is too large or too small.

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Different Sizes of Backpacks

In general, there are three different size categories of backpacks, and each of them can be used for different trips. Below is a quick rundown of the different sizes and what they are ideally used for.

35 liters and Less

These bags are on the smaller size, so they are more ideal for day hiking trips or travel. They can fit 35 liters or less of clothes and/or equipment. How much that equates to depends on how you pack your bag.


Between 35 and 50 Liters

With the ability to hold a bit more gear, these backpacks can be ideal for overnight hikes, hiking in temperate climates, or for traveling.


50 Liters and Larger

These bags are great for hikes that might last several days or long-term travel. They have the capacity to carry a variety of different gear, but you'll want to ensure that it doesn't get too heavy that it throws off your balance or you can't lift it.

Other Things to Consider

It may be tempting to buy one large backpack and using it for all of your needs. While you can certainly do this, it's a better idea to invest in a few different sizes. Again, you don't want a backpack that is too big or too small for your adventure, as this can be burdensome or cause pain. If you have different options to choose from, when you ask what size backpack do I need, you can pick the one that will carry the stuff it needs to carry and is comfortable.


Backpacks are amazing tools, and they can carry a lot of items from one place to another. They can be found in many places, including retail and outdoor supply stores and online. You may have thought that backpacks were all created equal, but that's not the case. When you ask what size backpack do I need, you'll need to consider where you are going, what you need to take, and your abilities.

Finding the backpack that fits your body size will reduce the pain and discomfort you experience, but also ensures you have the supplies you need. Take the time to take measurements and try on different backpacks. This item is an investment in your survival, so it's not something you should take lightly or decide in a hurry.

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