What Size Backpack for Travelling to Choose: Insider’s Guide

What size backpack for travelling should you snag for your next big adventure?

It’s like Goldilocks, but with bags – some are too big, some too small, and we’re hunting for just right.

I’ve been on countless trips and made a few packing blunders along the way.

So, let’s chat about how to find that sweet spot between comfort and capacity.

Together, we’ll make sure your next adventure starts on the right foot – or, better said, with the right pack.

Understanding Backpack Sizes

Let’s clear up one thing right away: backpack sizes can be quite confusing. They’re usually measured in liters, which is not exactly the most intuitive measurement for most of us, right? But don’t worry, we’re here to make sense of it all.

Understanding Travel Backpack Sizes

Backpack Size Chart Explained

First, let’s break down the common backpack sizes. Generally, backpacks range from 15 liters up to 85 liters.

  • A 15-30 liter backpack is considered small. These backpacks are perfect for day trips or commuting, where you only need to carry a few essentials like a water bottle, lunch box, and a spare change of clothes.
  • Medium-sized backpacks typically range from 30 to 50 liters. These are great for weekend trips or short multi-day hikes where you’ll be packing light but need more than just the bare essentials.
  • Large backpacks are anywhere from 50 to 70 liters. These are designed for longer trips, ranging from a week to several weeks, where you need to pack in everything from clothing to cooking equipment.
  • Finally, anything above 70 liters is considered extra-large. These are usually used for long-term travel, extensive hiking trips, or expeditions where you’ll be carrying a lot of gear.

Remember, these are general guidelines. What’s most important is finding what works best for your specific needs and travel style. Here’s a simple backpack size chart that corresponds to different types of travel:

Type of TravelIdeal Backpack Size (in Liters)
Day Trip or Commute15 – 30 L
Weekend Getaway30 – 40 L
Week-long Vacation40 – 50 L
Multi-week or Long-term Travel50 – 70 L
Extended Backpacking or Expeditions70+ L

Please note that these are rough estimates and actual backpack size needs may vary depending on specific factors such as individual packing habits, destination climate, and type of activities planned. Also, it’s always best to err on the side of a slightly larger backpack to ensure you have enough room for all your essentials.

To know more: What Material is a Backpack Made Of

Importance of Backpack Size in Travel

Selecting the right backpack size is not just about comfort – it can significantly affect your overall travel experience. Imagine embarking on a week-long hiking trip with a small daypack. Not only will you struggle to fit all your gear, but you’ll also constantly worry about leaving behind crucial items.

On the flip side, an excessively large backpack might initially seem like a good idea (who doesn’t like extra space, right?), but it can become a hindrance. It can weigh you down, make you off-balanced, or cause back pain, all of which can dampen the joy of travelling.

That’s why understanding backpack sizes and choosing the right one for your travel is so important. It’s not just about carrying your stuff; it’s about ensuring your travel experience is as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible. After all, travel is about exploring, discovering, and creating memories, not wrestling with an ill-fitting backpack.

Read more: How Much Should a Backpack Weigh

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Backpack Size

So, now you understand the basics of backpack sizes. However, picking the right one isn’t as simple as selecting a size from a chart. There are several key factors that can influence your decision. Let’s explore them one by one.

Asians traveler with a backpack

Duration of Your Trip

It’s pretty intuitive: the longer your trip, the larger backpack you’ll need. For example, if you’re off for a weekend city break, a 30-liter backpack might be perfect. But if you’re going on a month-long expedition through the Himalayas, you’ll need something significantly bigger, say a 70-liter backpack or more.

But keep in mind, duration isn’t the sole determinant. You may be able to pack a week’s worth of essentials into a 40-liter bag if you’re a minimalist packer, or you may need a 60-liter bag for a long weekend if you like to be prepared for every possible scenario.

Type of Travel

What you’re planning to do on your trip makes a world of difference in your backpack choice. If you’re backpacking across Europe, a larger backpack (50-70 liters) might be ideal to hold your gear, clothing, toiletries, and maybe a souvenir or two.

On the other hand, if you’re on a business trip and need to carry a laptop, documents, and a couple of formal outfits, a smaller, more structured backpack (20-30 liters) might be more suitable. For family vacations, you might consider a medium-sized backpack (30-50 liters), enough to carry your travel essentials and some extras for the kids.

For outdoor activities like hiking, a medium to large backpack (30-70 liters) is typically appropriate. However, it’s crucial to consider weight distribution and comfort, especially if you’ll be on the move most of the time.

Personal Packing Habits

We all have our packing styles. Some of us are minimalists, packing just the essentials. Others lean towards maximalism, ensuring we’re prepared for every possible situation. Your packing habits significantly impact the size of the backpack you need.

For instance, if you can get by with just a couple of changes of clothes and minimum toiletries, a smaller backpack might work. But if you like to have a variety of outfits, or if you have special requirements like photography equipment or camping gear, you’ll likely need a larger backpack.

Travel Destination’s Climate

Finally, the climate of your destination can influence your backpack choice. If you’re headed to a tropical locale, lightweight and thin clothing might be all you need, fitting easily into a smaller backpack. But if you’re off to a colder climate, bulky winter clothing and extra layers will demand more space, nudging you towards a larger backpack.

Also, remember that certain climates require specific gear. For example, if you’re going to a rainy destination, you might need to pack a raincoat, waterproof boots, and maybe even some quick-dry clothing. If you’re headed somewhere sunny and beachy, don’t forget to save some space for your beach gear!

See also: Backpack for Skiing, Backpack for Moms with Toddlers, Travel Backpack That Fits Under Airplane Seat

Now that we’ve outlined the factors that affect your choice of backpack size, let’s delve into some specific travel scenarios. Here, we’ll recommend ideal backpack sizes for different types of travel and discuss what they can typically hold. Remember, these are just recommendations – your individual needs and packing habits might require you to size up or down.

Backpack Sizes for Different Types of Travel

Weekend Getaways

A weekend getaway typically means you’ll be packing for 2-3 days. You won’t need a massive array of clothing or gear, so a smaller backpack should suffice. A backpack between 20-30 liters is usually ideal for these types of trips.

A 20-30 liter backpack can comfortably accommodate a couple of outfits, a toiletry bag, and some spare shoes. There’s usually room for a book or an e-reader, a compact camera, and your travel documents as well. If you’re tech-savvy, most backpacks of this size will have a dedicated compartment for a small laptop or tablet.

Week-Long Trips

For week-long trips, you’ll need a bit more space. A backpack between 35-50 liters should be sufficient for this duration. It’s an excellent middle ground that provides room for your necessities without tempting you to overpack.

In a 35-50 liter backpack, you can pack enough clothes for a week, assuming you’re planning to wear some outfits more than once. It should also have enough space for a larger toiletry bag, additional pairs of shoes, and possibly some extra clothing options. You can also squeeze in some entertainment options, like a larger book, a drone, or even a small hammock.

Backpack Size for Long-Term Traveling

When it comes to long-term travel or backpacking, you need a backpack that can accommodate a wide range of items and endure various weather conditions. In this case, a larger backpack between 50-70 liters (or even more, depending on your needs) is the way to go.

A 50-70 liter backpack can hold a lot. Apart from the clothing, toiletries, and travel documents, there’s typically room for a sleeping bag, a small tent, cooking equipment, and multiple pairs of shoes. Some of these backpacks also come with dedicated pockets for laptops and other electronics, as well as external straps for attaching things like sleeping pads or trekking poles.

Choosing the right size backpack for your travel can significantly enhance your overall experience. From convenience during transit to comfort during your journey, a suitable backpack is one less thing you need to worry about.

Here’s a simple recommended backpack sizes chart that corresponds to different types of travel:

Type of TravelRecommended Backpack Size (in Liters)
Weekend Getaways30 – 40 L
Week-long Trips40 – 50 L
Long-Term Travel or Backpacking50 – 70+ L

In short, the size of your travel backpack should ideally be between 30-70 liters, with 30-40 liters for weekend getaways, 40-50 liters for week-long trips, and 50-70+ liters for long-term travel or backpacking.

Additional Tips for Choosing and Packing a Travel Backpack

Beyond just considering the size of your backpack, there are a few other factors and tips that can really elevate your travel experience. Let’s discuss these in more detail.

Try Before You Buy

The perfect backpack size won’t be of much use if the backpack itself is uncomfortable to wear. That’s why it’s essential to try on different backpacks before purchasing. The best backpack for you should feel comfortable on your back, distribute weight evenly, and fit well with your body’s proportions.

If you’re buying in a physical store, pack the backpack with some weight and wear it around the store for a while. Adjust the straps, use the zippers, and check how accessible the pockets are. If you’re buying online, check the return policy to ensure you can return or exchange the backpack if it’s not the perfect fit.

Packing Efficiently

Even the most spacious backpack can run out of room if you don’t pack efficiently. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your backpack’s capacity:

  1. Roll, don’t fold: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can save a surprising amount of space.
  2. Use packing cubes: These little organizers not only keep your items sorted but also help to compress your clothes, making more room in your bag.
  3. Pack heaviest items closest to your back: This helps distribute weight effectively and improves comfort.
  4. Utilize all compartments: Make good use of the pockets and compartments in your backpack. They are great for keeping smaller items organized and easy to find.

Know more: How To Pack A Backpack For Air Travel

FAQs about Backpack Size for Travelling

What is the standard size for travel backpack?

The standard size for a travel backpack typically ranges between 30 to 50 liters. However, the right size for you depends on the duration of your trip, the kind of travel you’re undertaking, your personal packing habits, and the climate of your destination.

What is a Good Size Backpack for Travelling?

A good size backpack for travelling typically ranges from 40 to 50 liters, sufficient for a week's necessities and compact enough for carry-on regulations.

What size bag is best for travelling?

The best size bag for travelling varies with personal preferences and travel needs. For weekend trips, 15-30 liters is ideal; for week-long journeys, aim for 30-50 liters; and for long-term travel or backpacking, 50-70 liters is more suitable.

Can you take a 40L backpack as a carry-on?

Yes, you can generally take a 40L backpack as a carry-on. However, it depends on the airline’s restrictions and the actual dimensions of the backpack. Always check with your specific airline beforehand to ensure compliance with their guidelines.

Is a 50L backpack big enough for travelling?

Yes, a 50L backpack is usually big enough for travelling, capable of fitting a week's worth of clothing, a small laptop, toiletries, and other essential items.

Also learn: How to Pack a Backpack for Hiking in Comfort

Last Words about What Size Backpack for Travelling

Travelling should be a source of joy and inspiration, not discomfort and inconvenience. Choosing the right size backpack is crucial in this regard. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway, a week-long vacation, or a long-term backpacking adventure, there’s a perfect backpack size out there for you.

We’ve walked through understanding backpack sizes, factors to consider when choosing a backpack, and recommendations for various types of travel. Plus, a few extra tips to ensure you find the perfect fit and pack efficiently. Now, with these insights, you’re well equipped to make an informed choice. Safe travels and happy packing!

Read more: How to Secure Backpack When Travelling

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Hey there, fellow explorers! This is Ovi Tanchangya, passionate blogger and avid outdoorsman. I want to share my thoughts about my past outdoor experiences, and of course, I will continue to do so. The past is very practical and can't be forgotten. I don't know which is unique about camping, but I can't forget the campfire smoke and the smell of the camp foods. When I am in mechanical society, I try to recall my memories by watching various camp videos and listening to the sound of the forest raining. And this is me.

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