Are you planning to purchase a new pack for the outdoors, or your next climb? If so, there are three major factors you need to consider if you want to make an informed purchase. You will particularly need to pay attention to the capacity of the backpack, the features of the backpack, and the fit of the backpack.

The size pack you will require is associated and interconnected to the duration of your trip and how much weight you want to carry. When focusing on the fit of the backpack, you should pay attention to the torso length, not your height.

Anyway, let’s stop scratching on the surface. Without further ado, here’s a detailed guide that will help you choose the perfect-sized hiking backpack for your needs and requirements.

The capacity of the backpack

  • Weekend trips (1-3 nights)

For a weekend hiking trip of about 1-3 nights, you should particularly opt for a backpack with a capacity of 30-50 liters. You don´t really need bulky gear to get through a weekend hiking trip. However, you should understand that packing light requires proper planning and self-discipline.

  • Multiday (3-5 nights)

Multiday backpacks usually have a capacity of 50-80 liters and are considered the ideal choice for warm-weather multiday hiking trips of around 3-5 nights. Many people even use 50-80 liter backpacks for day trips, backcountry skiing, overnighters and sometimes 2-night trips. If you can carry the load and not struggle one bit while doing so, you have our blessing to use these types of backpacks.

  • Extended trips (5+ nights)

If you are planning to go on a hiking trip of 5 days or more, we would strongly advise you to opt for backpacks of 70 liters or larger. These types of backpacks are usually used for winter treks as they have the capacity to comfortably accommodate a sleeping bag, an extra layer of clothing, and even a season tent! Adults who take their children out backpacking usually also carry backpacks of 70 liters or larger. They commonly do that to carry their kids´ gear to make the experience enjoyable for their young ones.

So, What size hiking backpack do I need?

We can’t stress enough on the importance of identifying a backpack that fits you appropriately. In a nutshell, the ideal fit is the one that is suitable for your torso length, not your overall height, and the one that offers a comfortable grip on your hips.

Most of the backpacks on the market are available in numerous sizes, from extra small to large, which fit a range of torso lengths. However, there may be packs that boast an adjustable suspension too. An adjustable suspension typically allows you to modify the backpack to fit your torso. However, you should be aware that an adjustable harness adds extra weight to the pack.

It is also of paramount importance for you to focus on the waist size of the backpack. Why is it necessary to do so? Well, it is necessary for you to do so because the majority of a backpack’s weight, over 80 percent, should be supported by your hips.

If the backpack you choose doesn’t accommodate your hip size properly, you will end up carrying the weight with your back and other areas of the body. And, doing so can be disastrous and lead to injuries.

If you aren’t of large stature and are having difficulty finding the right fit, you should also know that there are women-specific backpacks specifically constructed for people of smaller frame sizes.

The torso dimensions in the women-specific backpacks are generally shorter and narrower than men´s packs. There are also youth-specific backpacks that feature adjustable suspension to accommodate a child´s growth.

We believe that it is in your best interest to pay attention to the load lifter straps that are stitched on the top of the shoulder straps as well. The load lifter straps connect to the top of the pack frame and are responsible for preventing the upper portion of the pack from pulling away from the body.

In addition to that, you should also focus on the mid-chest strap, sternum strap. This strap enables you to connect your shoulder straps, boosting stability, and proving to be particularly useful when traveling or hiking on uneven terrain.

Let’s discuss the various backpack features

The backpacks that are sold today are commonly of three different frame types: internal-frame backpacks, external-frame backpacks, and frameless backpacks.

Body-hugging internal-frame backpacks provide optimum stability on uneven terrain and have several technologies that help transfer the majority of the load to the hips.

Meanwhile, external-frame backpacks are mainly used for carrying heavy, irregular load. On the other hand, frameless backpacks are the ideal choice for backpackers that hike fast and prefer to travel light.

When selecting a mountaineering backpack, you should aim to choose one that has padded shoulder straps and hip belt, sternum straps and a load lifter too.

These features ensure that your hike is comfortable and enjoyable. In addition to that, it is also essential for you to ensure that the backpack is lined with a lightweight mesh that complies to the shape of the body, has a cushion for your back, and is pleasantly aerated to promote airflow. This helps keep you cheerfully dry throughout the hike, ensuring that sweating is kept on the low.

The backpack should also boast an ample dispensation of dividers, elasticized side pockets, hip belt pockets, shovel pockets and waterproof pockets that can store electronic devices.

It also helps if the backpack features a stow-on-the-go attachment for trekking poles and a sleeping bag compartment near the bottom that can not only hold your sleeping bag but also other gear that you´d like to reach easily.

Some of the prime examples of the best mountaineering backpacks are the Osprey Mutant 38, Black Diamond Speed 50, Black Diamond Mission 75, and Gregory Denali 100 etc.