How are Backpacks Measured

How are Backpacks Measured

Backpacking and hiking can be long trips, so comfort is always essential. This comfort can be achieved by getting a backpack that fits you right and has the proper adjustments made.

Prior to buying a pack, you should measure your body and determine a size that is appropriate for you. How are backpacks measured? This article will further discuss all the essentials you need to know about correct backpack sizing.

Measuring torso length for a backpack

In order to do this, you have to get a measuring tape and assistance from another individual. Ask the other person to measure you, starting from the most noticeable bump on your neck to a spot between the hip bones. To determine this point, place your palms on the hips with the index fingers placed across the hip bones’ crests.

Let the thumbs stay horizontal and pointed straight through the hips toward the spine. The other person can then measure down to that spot between the thumbs. The measurement from this is the overall length of your torso which you need for the perfect size pack.

Find the right carrying capacity

All backpack manufacturers assign pack sizes by way of cubic inches, inches or both. The perfect pack size differs with every individual since this will go by means of their packing habits. Hikers and backpackers who often travel light are capable of fitting a number of days’ worth of equipment and items into what would be a bigger daypack.

Casual hikers may not have that much of an idea or the budget for smaller, lightweight and costly gear. This typically means a bigger backpack in order to fully contain all gear from the small to more sizable items.

If you have doubts, you can place your standard hiking and backpacking items in a few stuff sacks or bags to make things more manageable. Go to your nearest gear shop and test some models.

The different backpack volumes: How are Backpacks Measured?

There are different sizes of backpacks, each designed to cater to a specific trip. Here are some of the most commonly used packs for backpacking and trekking and their respective volumes.


A majority of day packs span sizes from 20-35 liters. Smaller backpacks are good enough for a half-day hike, however if you are planning on a hike that will last an entire day, you need to bring along a bigger pack so you can take extra food, water, clothing and other essentials. This category also comprises hydration packs, however make sure you have enough volume to take along additional gear.

If you usually hike during colder seasons, you can opt for a pack that has a size ranging from 40 to 45 liters so it can carry larger gear from snow shoes, micro spikes and cumbersome insulated apparel.

Weekend backpack

Weekend backpacks are good for hikes and backpacking trips that will last from a single day or up to 3 days. For trips that will last for a few days, you will need to include certain items like a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, extra clothing, a tent, cooking equipment and utensils and extra food.

Because you have more items to carry, the backpack should have sufficient space even if you usually take a lighter approach to packing. Recommended volumes for a trip of this duration range from 40-50 liters.

Multi-day backpack

Multi-day backpacks are great for trips that will last 3 to 5 nights. Then again, you will be obligated to bring more gear and food with you based on the activities or climate that you will be traveling in. For a trip with this duration, it is suggested that hikers should opt for a backpack that has 50-70 liters of volume.

However, if you pack light or usually bring compressible equipment that will not take much space, you can opt for a backpack volume that is less than these mentioned.

Expedition backpack

Expedition backpacks are the largest among backpacks and they range from 80-110 liters, or even more. They are made to contain a huge quantity of gear and food. It is recommended for resourcefully guided mountaineering journeys.

If you plan on doing this, you can inquire with your guide about what type of backpack fits the situation the best. Keep in mind that expedition packs can be very expensive.

How are backpacks measured in terms of volume?

A majority of major manufacturers of backpacks measure volume by adding the total volume of the closed pack. This means including pockets and chief compartments, down to the hip belt pockets. There are also smaller companies who have a different approach and include open pockets into the volume like rear mesh pockets and side water bottle pockets.

However, this can make the whole weight-to-volume assessments a bit confusing once you start comparing models from a variety of brands. If you have doubts about the volume, you can get in touch with the company and inquire which method they use.

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