How to Choose the Right Backpack for Backpacking Trips


When preparing for a backpacking trip, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right backpack. Your backpack will be your home away from home, carrying all of your gear and supplies as you hike through the wilderness. Choosing the wrong backpack can lead to discomfort, injury, and a less enjoyable trip overall. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the factors to consider when choosing a backpack for backpacking trips, so you can make an informed decision and enjoy your trip to the fullest.


One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a backpack is capacity. Backpack capacity refers to the volume of the main compartment, usually measured in liters. The right capacity for you will depend on a number of factors, including the duration of your trip and the gear you’ll need to bring with you.

For shorter trips, a backpack with a capacity of 40-60 liters may be sufficient. For longer trips, or trips that require bulkier gear such as winter camping, a larger backpack with a capacity of 60-80 liters may be necessary. It’s important to choose a backpack that is the right size for your needs, as an overly large or small backpack can lead to discomfort and make it difficult to carry your gear.


In addition to capacity, fit is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a backpack. A well-fitted backpack is essential for both comfort and safety. A poorly fitting backpack can lead to chafing, soreness, and even injury, as well as making it more difficult to balance and move.

To measure your torso length for a backpack, stand up straight and measure from the base of your neck to the top of your hip bones. This measurement will help you determine the appropriate size backpack for your body. Most backpacks come in a range of sizes, so it’s important to choose the right size for your body type.

In addition to torso length, you’ll also want to consider your hip size. A backpack with a well-padded hip belt will help distribute the weight of the pack more evenly, reducing strain on your shoulders and back.

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Backpacks come with a wide range of features, from pockets and compartments to ventilation systems and hydration compatibility. It’s important to consider which features are important for your needs and preferences, as well as which features will add unnecessary weight to your pack.

Some common backpack features include:

  • Pockets and compartments for organization
  • Compression straps to reduce pack volume and stabilize the load
  • Padded shoulder straps and hip belts for comfort
  • Ventilation systems to reduce sweat and heat buildup
  • Hydration compatibility, allowing you to carry a water bladder and drink hands-free

Consider which features are most important to you, and look for backpacks that offer those features without adding unnecessary weight or complexity to your pack.

Material and Durability

Backpack durability is essential for the demands of backpacking trips. Your backpack will be exposed to a range of weather conditions and terrains, and will need to withstand the wear and tear of regular use.

Backpacks are typically made from a range of materials, including nylon, polyester, and Dyneema. Each material has its own pros and cons, and it’s important to consider which material will provide the appropriate level of durability for your needs.

Nylon is a popular choice for backpacks, as it is lightweight and durable. However, it may not be as resistant to abrasion as other materials. Polyester is also a common choice, as it is abrasion-resistant and durable. Dyneema is an ultra-strong material that is extremely durable but also more expensive than other materials.


When it comes to backpacking trips, the weight of your backpack can make a significant difference in your overall experience. A backpack that is too heavy can cause discomfort, fatigue, and even injury, while a backpack that is too light may not be able to hold all of your necessary gear. Therefore, it’s important to find a balance between weight and capacity when choosing a backpack.

There are several factors that can affect the weight of a backpack, including the material it’s made of, the size of the backpack, and the number of features it has. For example, backpacks made of lightweight materials like nylon or polyester tend to be lighter than those made of heavier materials like canvas or leather. Similarly, larger backpacks with more features like pockets and straps will generally be heavier than smaller, simpler backpacks.

To balance weight and capacity, it’s important to consider your specific needs for the trip. Determine how much gear you need to bring and what kind of activities you’ll be doing, as this can help you choose a backpack with the appropriate capacity. Keep in mind that it’s always better to have a slightly larger backpack than one that’s too small, as you don’t want to be left without essential gear.

Another way to balance weight and capacity is to look for backpacks with features that help distribute weight evenly. For example, backpacks with padded straps and back panels can help reduce pressure on your shoulders and back, while waist belts can transfer some of the weight to your hips. Additionally, some backpacks are designed with frames that help distribute weight evenly across your back.

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Choosing the right backpack is crucial for a successful and enjoyable backpacking trip. Before making your purchase, consider the length of your trip, the amount of gear you need to bring, your body type and comfort preferences, and the type of terrain you will be traveling on. Look for a backpack with adjustable straps and a comfortable hip belt, as well as durable materials and water-resistant features. Try on several different backpacks and adjust them to your body before making your final decision. Remember, investing in a quality backpack that fits well and meets your needs can make all the difference in your backpacking experience.

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