Choosing the Best Travel Backpack

Backpacker looking at mountains with full pack

How to Fit a Backpack


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Your backpack is the most important bit of kit that you’ll take with you on your trip; it’ll be your home for however long you’re on the road, so choosing the right one is pretty crucial.

Below you’ll find a guide for how to choose the best travel backpack for you; this article will cover:

  • The importance of choosing the right size
  • Backpacking size guide
  • Backpack fitting guide
  • Pricing

The Importance of Size

an orange travel backpack

This is one of the most important aspects to consider – you need to think about how much weight you can comfortably carry. If you’re not confident carrying a lot of weight then do make it a priority to choose a smaller sized backpack; with a smaller backpack you won’t even be giving yourself the option of a heavy load as you won’t have the space to pack very much – always a good option for those who are prone to over-packing!

The type of trip you are going on and how long you are going for will also play a factor in what backpack will be best for you.

If your trip is going to require taking a lot of specialist equipment (i.e., camping, hiking, snowboarding for example) then you will need to opt for a larger sized backpack to compensate for the gear that you will need to take with you.

Travel Backpack Size Guide

Backpacks are measured in either litres or cubic inches; getting familiar with these sizes will help you when it comes to choosing your backpack. This below size guide will help you when choosing the best backpack for the type of trip you are planning to embark on:

Travel Backpack Size Best for?
25 – 35 Litres
1,500 – 2,000 Cubic Inches
Short (one or two-day) excursions.
35 – 45 Litres
2,000 – 2,700 Cubic Inches
A trip of approximately one week (providing your trip is not extremely equipment-heavy).
45 – 55 Litres
2,000 – 3,500 Cubic Inches
A two-week backpacking excursion. This size will also be suitable for a weekend backpacking trip to a destination with a cool climate where you’ll need thicker clothing.
55 – 65 Litres
3,500 – 4,000 Cubic Inches
This is the most common size and is the best backpack to choose for medium to long backpacking trips. I.e., backpacking around the world or a three-month trip would both benefit from backpacks within this range.
65 – 80+ Litres
4,000 – 5,000 Cubic Inches
The top end of the scale is more suited for those who are heading off on a trip that requires a lot of specialised equipment, of if you are going to a particularly cold climate.


Backpack Fitting Guide

Once you have selected the best size backpack for your trip, the next priority is to make sure it fits you well! An ill-fitted backpack will potentially cause you a lot of back trouble.

Hip Belts

Hip belts help to evenly distribute weight and take the pressure off your back. Below is a guide which will help you to decide what size hip belt to select:

Your Hip Size Belt size
22 – 27 Inch Hips Small Belt
28 – 34 Inch Hips Medium Belt
35 – 39 Inch Hips Large Belt

Adjusting Your Hip Belt

Once you’ve selected the right size belt, make sure it is fastened properly for maximum comfort:

  • Pull the padded straps around your waist.
  • Fasten the buckle and tighten the straps until the hip belt fits securely — but comfortably, around your hips.
  • When you have a good-fitting hip belt that is fastened correctly you should feel that the weight of the bag is eased from your shoulders.


Select a backpack with the correct frame size for your torso measurements. First, you will need to measure your torso (from the base of your neck to the top of your hips). Below is a guide as to what size frame is suitable for torso’s ranging from 40cm – 51cm:

Your torso size Frame Size
Your torso is between 40 – 45cm Small Frame
Your torso is between 46 – 50cm Medium Frame
Your torso is 51cm+ Large Frame

Adjusting the Shoulder Straps

Adjust your backpack’s shoulder straps so that they fit closely to your back – they should not be hanging loose as the weight of the backpack will be pulled downwards and will drag on your bag.

How Much for a Good Backpack?

Be sensible and realistic about the amount you spend on a travel backpack. Don’t go for the cheapest option available (you won’t thank yourself later), but do be vigilant about what offers are available and make sure you check out ways of getting your hands on cheap backpacking gear as well as discount backpacking equipment for ideas to keep costs down that you hadn’t even thought of…!

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