Mare a Mare Nord FEAT

How to choose the right backpack size

“Quickly shop a backpack”, you probably thought when you got in the car this morning and left to the outdoor store. But once arrived there, you are blown away by the extensive offer. Not only do these backpacks appear in various brands and colors. Apparently there is also a distinction made in size. But how do you make the right choice which size fits your planned trip? Well, that’s actually very simple …

Does size really matter? 

Well, that’s a very good question. You can of course choose to just buy one backpack and take it with you on all your trips. But at some point it will either be too big or too small.
 
A too large backpack will ensure that you can not pack your luggage in the best possible way, so that the stability of your body during hiking could be compromised. In addition, it can also be ergonomically less favorable, which in the long term can cause nasty injuries.
 
A too small backpack, on the other hand, will oblige you to attach all kinds of things to the outside of your pack. But that too has its limits, of course. The best thing to do in this case is to attach everything as firmly and as tightly as possible to your backpack. Swaying gear brings you out of balance and can cause accidents. If you want to choose an optimal balance and good ergonomics, you have to adjust your backpack size to the specific journey you have in mind. The size of a backpack is always expressed in volume, and therefore in liters. The ideal volume of your backpack depends on how many nights you want to go out hiking. But also other variables, such as the weather conditions play a major role in this choice.
 

Picture taken during our adventure on the Mare a Mare Nord, Corsica
 

Length of your trip

a. Weekend trip (1 to 3 nights)

The shorter the trip, the smaller the backpack. For a weekend trip of one to three nights a backpack with a volume of 30 to 50 or 60 liters should suffice. To be able to stay within this packing volume, you will have to make the necessary sacrifices and, for example, have to leave that extra set of clean clothes at home.

Our adviced products: 

 

b. Multiple day trips (3 to 5 nights)

If you stay in the great outdoors for up to five nights, we recommend a backpack volume between 50 and 70 liters. Because these packs concern the middle part of the whole backpack range, they are also the type of backpack that are sold the most.

Our adviced products: 

 

c. Expedition (over 5 nights)

Backpacks with a volume above 70 liters are the ideal choice for hiking trips over five nights. Besides extra clothing, you will probably also need to carry more food in your backpack. In addition, you have to take into account a longer trip with various weather conditions, so you will have to drag along more adapted material.

Another reason to opt for an extra large backpack of 70 liters or more may be that your children are going on a hike with you, and you might want to carry (a part of) their luggage yourself.

Our adviced products: 

Picture taken during our Pyrenean Traverse

 

Type of your trip

a. Type of accommodation

If you hike from hut to hut, or you have booked a cozy B&B every night, a 50-liter backpack can be big enough. It is only when you have to bring a sleeping pad, a sleeping bag and a tent, that you will have to look at the larger volumes. Certainly if you also plan to cook your own meal on your stove in the evening, you will have to shop in the 70 liter range, or larger.

 

b. Weather conditions

When you plan a hike in warm and pleasant weather conditions, you can go a long way with a backpack of 50 to 70 liters. You can leave your thermal underwear and down jacket at home. But also that warmer sleeping bag and even your rain gear do not have to be packed. However, if you expose yourself to wet and cold weather for several days, you may need a larger backpack where all those nice warm clothes can be stored neatly.

 

c. Resupply possibilities

On trips where you regularly pass a village or a cabin where you can do some basic grocery shopping, you will have to bring less food. In that case a backpack capacity of up to 60 liters is usually sufficient.

 

Picture taken during our Pyrenean Traverse

 

Conclusion

“One size does not fit all” when it comes to backpack volume. It is best to think about the specific conditions in which you will be hiking, prior to each trip. Once that is clear, you can easily determine the required size of your backpack.

And with the flow chart below, the choice of your ideal backpack volume is really child’s play.

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