How to Size a Hiking Backpack: Some Essential Tips

Hiking is always fun and adventurous, but one thing that bothers almost every hiker is to comprehend how to size a hiking backpack. It is nothing short of frustrating experience to decide what size will do best for your intended trip. Of course, a wrong calculation of your bag size for your journey can ruin your adventure.

Backpacks are usually sized according to their volumes and lengths. They consist of numerous sections and storage compartments; all of which have separate volumes to offer. Majority of backpack manufacturers calculate their backpack volumes by adding the maximum capacity of the major and closed compartments, which they often term as the total internal volume.

On the other hand, some companies include the open pockets in the calculation. This difference can make a slight impact on your decision, especially when comparing volumes of several brands. Either way, every company mentions the capacity of their packs in terms of cubic inches or liters. With that said, in general, the carrying capacity of hiking backpacks can range anywhere between 10 liters and 110 liters.

How to Size a Hiking Backpack: Based on Several Factors

Sizing a hiking backpack entirely depends on several factors. Nonetheless, here are a number of things that you need to consider when finding the appropriate backpack for you.

The Hiker

Since every person differs from others in terms of requirements, no specific size can satisfy everyone. With that in regard, here are a few helpful tips on how to choose a backpack based on your personal needs as a hiker.

  • Physique

A lot of people do not pay heed to it, but your physique has a lot to do with the appropriate size of a hiking backpack. That is because it would be absurd to go for a pack that is bigger than your own size. Not only would it be uncomfortable, but it will also end up exhausting you before you even reach the finish line of your trekking trip.

To avoid meeting such a horrific fate, you need to pick a size according to your own body. For that, you will need to find out the measurements of your torso. You can do so by placing a tape measure from the bottom of your neck to the highest point of your pelvic bones. The distance between these two points is the ideal length as per your body. Make sure that the pack you get is of the same or lesser length to have a comfortable fit.

  • General Packing Habits

Some people have a natural talent for stuffing a lot of items in a limited space, so we truly believe that packing is no less than an art. If you are a frequent hiker, you must have acquired some of these skills by now. If not, you can always keep working on that, but for the meantime, you can opt for a big backpack.

Efficient packers always have the advantage of going small and light, unless some bigger items cannot be squished or folded. If your major packing material comprises of clothes and other foldable stuff, you can almost always pull off using a small pack.

  • Gear Needed

The amount and size of gear you take along with you also play a primary role in selecting the correct size of a backpack. The majority of dedicated hikers prefer to go as light as possible. Conversely, some people do not leave without packing a huge amount of stuff that they deem necessary.

Normally, an average hiker does not have enough knowledge or experience to figure out what they should or should not take along with them. For the same reason, they usually go for packs with bigger capacities, just in case. If you are also one of those, you should first finalize the gear that you are going to fit into your pack and then pick one accordingly.

The Length of Your Hiking Trip

A hiking trip may last for one day or several days. It is all contingent upon your personal preference. For obvious reasons, the lengthier the trip, the more the gear, which means a bigger backpack. In contrast, if your plan entails only a single day of trekking, you will need the smallest pack possible. Ideally, you should have different sizes of backpacks if your trekking trips keep on varying in lengths every now and then.

Here are some important recommendations based on the length of your hiking trip.

  • Day Trip

For one-day hiking trips, you only need a pack that can carry your essentials for the day. A backpack with a volume between 10 and 30 liters would have enough capacity to fulfill your needs. However, if you like to take a hike during winters, you should go for a slightly bigger size like 40 liters to fit extra equipment.

  • Overnight or Weekend Trip

As compared to a day trip, overnight or weekend hikes require extra food and few more items such as a sleeping bag and extra pairs of clothes. A backpack that has a capacity of 40 to 50 liters is more than enough to accommodate all of these things without a problem.

  • Multi-Night Trip

If you plan to hike and camp for a maximum of five nights, you can add several more essentials for a sane and safe survival. For example, a cooking tool, shelter, and additional clothing. Hence, a pack having 80 liters volume capacity is ideal.

  • Expedition Trip

If you are planning a long trip that entails more than five nights, you can choose any size between 80 and 110 liters, depending on your food consumption and other requirements.

Final Words

So, it turns out that sizing a backpack is not that complex after all. Just keep in mind all the easy tips mentioned above, and you will know exactly how to size a hiking backpack based on your needs in no time. Also, you should keep in mind that when it comes to sizing a backpack, it involves both the length and the weight capacity of the item.  In addition, the best way to have the perfect backpack is to pick one that has a slightly bigger size and higher capacity than your actual need.

Happy hiking!

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