What Size Backpack Do You Need?

We borrowed a lot of gear for our backpacking trips last year. After deciding it was something we wanted to stick with, it was time to start shopping for our own gear. Picking out a backpack was one of the most difficult decisions with all the choices available. Not only does each pack feel different when you put it on, there are a wide range of capacities available. I didn’t want to go too big, and carry around more pack than I needed, but was afraid to go too small and not have enough room.

This info-graphic from REI pretty much echos much of what I read in books and on the internet. Those looking to travel fast and light may want to go with a smaller capacity pack. Since I find myself in the role as the family Sherpa, I went with a pack in the upper capacity range. I want to have enough room to take on a bit extra should I need to; for example, I found that taking a few things from my son’s pack noticeably gave him a boost in stamina and morale.

Backpacks Infographic: How to Find the Right Backpack for You

Check out REI’s backpacks next time you head outdoors!

In addition to the capacity of the pack, you’ll want to get the right size pack to fit your torso length. I recommend going to a place like REI that can help you get fitted, and also has a large inventory of packs. I was surprised at how different the packs from the various manufacturers fit. Some felt like they wanted to get away from my body, while others felt like a custom fit. Go try them on!


4 thoughts on “What Size Backpack Do You Need?

    1. I bought an Osprey Aether 70 this winter. I haven’t even got to try it yet though. Hopefully SOON. My wife has the woman’s version, the Ariel 65, and she loved it on our last trip. It seemed to be the only pack that really felt comfortable on her when loaded up.

      I also recently picked up an Osprey Kestrel 38 which I’ll be using next week for a week of day hikes with the family in southern Utah. It’s on the large size for day hiking, but looks like it will be good for a lightweight over-nighter too.

      Looking forward to reviewing both packs after I get some miles with them!

      1. Nice! I’m jealous of your southern Utah trip. I’ll look forward to reading your reviews. I currently use a Mountainsmith Lariat 65 (my wife has their Jumiper 50), and we’re taking a 3-night trip in Michigan’s U.P. this weekend.

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