The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Size Travel Backpack- Don’t Miss Out on These Essential Tips.

You’re planning your next great adventure and wondering, “what size travel backpack should I get?” Whether planning a weekend getaway, a month-long vacation, or a backpacking trip worldwide, you must know how to choose the right travel backpack.

The perfect travel backpack is essential for a successful trip. If you choose a backpack that’s too big, you’ll find yourself packing unnecessary items and carrying too much weight. If you choose a backpack that’s too small, you’ll have to leave some of your favourite things behind.

To avoid these common travel mistakes, you must know how to choose the right travel backpack for your next trip.

Introduction to Travel Backpacks
two person walking towards mountain covered with snow

Travel backpacks are the best way to pack for any trip. They’re durable, versatile, and easy to carry, making them the perfect luggage option for everyone, from budget backpackers to business travellers.

But with so many sizes, styles, and features, how do you find the perfect travel backpack for your trip?

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing the right size travel backpack. From the best travel backpacks for carry-on to the best travel backpacks for long trips, we’ve got you covered!

Importance of Choosing the Right Size
grey and black hiking backpack and cyan tumbler on grey rock during sunset

The right size travel backpack can make or break your trip. If you have a backpack that’s too big, you’ll be carrying around a bunch of stuff you don’t need and could end up paying extra to check your bag. On the other hand, if you have a backpack that’s too small, you’ll be lugging around a heavy, overstuffed bag, and you won’t have room for souvenirs or anything you pick up along the way.

A properly sized travel backpack will make it easy to pack everything you need and keep your load light and manageable.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Travel Backpack Size

There are a few key factors to consider when deciding what size travel backpack to get. Let’s start by considering the most important factors before deciding.

Length of Travel: Weekend Trip vs. Multi-month Journey

The length of your trip is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the size of your travel backpack.

If you’re going on a weekend trip, you can likely get away with a 20-30L travel backpack.

But if you’re going on a multi-month journey, you’ll need a larger backpack, like a 40-60L travel backpack.

Remember that if you’ll be travelling for a long time, you’ll probably be doing laundry along the way, so you won’t need to pack as many clothes as you would for a shorter trip.

Type of Travel: Backpacking
man in blue jacket

Backpacking is a little different than travelling in the traditional sense. Backpacking means that you will be travelling to multiple destinations, often in different countries, and you will be spending a lot of time on the road.

You will most likely be using public transportation, like buses and trains, and you will be staying in hostels, guesthouses, and possibly camping along the way.

When you are backpacking, you must pack a little more than you would if travelling for a week or two. But not so much that you need a giant backpack.


Camping is another activity that will require a larger travel backpack. Look for a bag that is around 50-60 litres. If you are camping in the winter, you may need a larger bag for bulkier clothing and a sleeping bag.

Just like when hiking, you must carry a sleeping bag, food, and other camping gear, so that you will need a larger bag.

or City Exploration

If you’re planning to visit a city or two on your trip, you’ll need a travel backpack that’s big enough to fit your day-to-day essentials. This will include your camera, a water bottle, a light jacket, and some snacks.

You’ll also want to ensure your travel backpack has good organization, as you’ll likely be carrying many small items with you. This will help you stay organized and make it easier to find what you need quickly.

Look for a travel backpack that’s around 20-30L in size. This will be big enough to fit all your day-to-day essentials but not so big that it will be cumbersome.

Climate and Weather Considerations
two person walking towards mountain covered with snow

The weather will play a big part in determining what kind of clothing you’ll need to pack and, therefore, how much space you’ll need in your backpack.

If you’re traveling to a place with unpredictable weather, you may need to pack a variety of clothing options, which means you’ll need a larger backpack.

If you’re traveling to a place with a consistent climate, you may be able to get away with a smaller backpack.

Personal Packing Style and Needs

Everyone has different packing needs and styles, which is why there are so many different types of travel backpacks available. Consider how you like to pack when deciding what size travel backpack to get.

Do you need a lot of space for bulky items? Are you a minimalist packer? Do you plan to pack a lot of electronics? These are just a few things to consider when deciding what size travel backpack to get based on your packing style and needs.

Size Options: Daypacks

Daypacks are the smallest travel backpacks available. They’re designed for short trips or as a smaller bag to carry with you on longer trips. They also make great everyday bags when you’re not travelling.

Daypacks are typically 20-30L. They’re big enough to carry the essentials for sightseeing or a short hike. Most daypacks also have a hydration bladder pocket, making them a great outdoor activity choice.

Daypacks are also a great option for everyday use. They’re big enough to carry your laptop and other essentials but not so big that they feel bulky. And they’re much more stylish than a traditional laptop bag!


Carry-ons are the most popular type of backpack for flights, and it’s easy to see why.

Carry-on backpacks are the perfect size for a weekend trip, and they can save you a lot of time and hassle at the airport.

A carry-on backpack is the way to go if you don’t want to check a bag.

Most airlines allow you to bring a carry-on backpack on the plane, so you can avoid the baggage claim and get on with your trip.

and Larger Backpacks
man riding bike near body of water

If you’re planning a longer trip, a larger travel backpack is the way to go. These are generally 50L+ and are designed to hold everything you need for a long trip or to hold a little extra gear if you’re not sure what you’ll need.

These backpacks are perfect for digital nomads, long-term travellers, and anyone who needs to pack a little extra. If you’re planning on travelling with a larger backpack, make sure to check the airline’s size restrictions to see if you can bring it on the plane as a carry-on.

Capacity Measurements: Liters vs. Cubic Inches

When shopping for a travel backpack, you’ll notice that they come in different capacity measurements. The most common measurements are litres and cubic inches.

If you’re used to litres, you’ll probably want to stick with that. But if you’re used to cubic inches, you’ll want to convert that to litres to compare sizes.

To convert cubic inches to litres, divide the cubic inches by 61.023. To convert litres to cubic inches, multiply the litres by 61.023.

For example, if you have a 40L backpack and want to know how many cubic inches that is, you would multiply 40 by 61.023, which equals 2,440 cubic inches.

Understanding the Internal and External Features of Backpacks

When choosing the right size travel backpack, it’s important to understand the features and how they can benefit you.

Some of the most important features to consider are the internal and external ones.

Internal features include the harness system, frame, and load lifters.

External features include the hip belt, sternum strap, and compression straps.

These features work together to help you carry a heavy load comfortably and efficiently.

The Importance of Weight Distribution and Comfort
woman sitting on cliff during daytime

When it comes to carrying your life on your back, comfort is key. It’s important to find a backpack that is comfortable to carry, especially if you’re traveling for an extended period of time.

An uncomfortable backpack can lead to back and neck pain; no one wants that. A backpack with a sound weight distribution system is the most important thing to look for in comfort.

This is usually done by having a padded hip belt that helps to distribute the backpack’s weight onto your hips instead of your shoulders and back.

You’ll also want to look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps and a chest strap. The shoulder straps should be adjustable, and the chest strap should be able to move up and down to fit your body.

If you carry a lot of weight in your backpack, you may want to look for a backpack with an internal frame. An internal frame helps keep the backpack’s weight close to your body, making it easier to carry.

Adjustability and Customization for Different Body Types

If you’re tall, you know how difficult it can be to find backpacks that fit your frame. This is especially true if you’re shopping for a travel backpack online and can’t try it on in person.

Look for travel backpacks that are adjustable or come in different sizes. Some backpacks even have a customizable harness that can be adjusted to fit your specific torso length.

If you’re shopping for a travel backpack in person, try it on and adjust all the straps to see how it feels on your body. A properly fitted backpack should sit comfortably on your hips and not put too much strain on your shoulders.

Additional Compartments and Features to Consider
man in brown and black backpack standing on sidewalk during daytime

When choosing a travel backpack, you’ll want to think about what other features you’ll need. If you’re traveling with a laptop, you’ll want to ensure your backpack has a padded laptop compartment.

If traveling with a camera, you’ll want to look for a backpack with a padded camera compartment.

If you’re going to be traveling in a hot climate, you’ll want to look for a backpack with a built-in hydration system.

If you’re going to be traveling in a cold climate, you’ll want to look for a backpack with a built-in rain cover.

If you’re going to be traveling where you’ll need to carry a lot of water, you’ll want to look for a backpack with a built-in water bottle pocket.

Balancing Size with Versatility and Functionality

The larger the backpack, the more features and compartments it will have. But, the larger the backpack, the more you will be tempted to fill it with stuff you don’t need.

Ensure your backpack has enough compartments to keep your stuff organized, but don’t go overboard. If you have too many compartments, it can be hard to remember where you put things, and you might waste time looking for them.

Also, think about what you will be doing with your backpack. If you do a lot of hiking or walking, you will want a lighter, more streamlined pack. If you use it mostly for travel, you can get away with a larger, heavier pack.

Budget Constraints and Quality Considerations

The quality of the materials and construction of your backpack is just as important as the size. You don’t want to be stuck with a cheaply made backpack that won’t last your trip.

This is where your budget comes in. If you have a tight budget, you can still find a decent quality small travel backpack that will last a while.

However, with a larger budget, you can invest in a high-quality backpack that will last you for many future trips.

Tips for Packing Efficiently and Maximizing Space
woman with brown backpack beside road

• Roll your clothes: Rolling your clothes takes up less space than folding them, and it helps prevent wrinkles. I like to roll similar items together and then place them in packing cubes to keep my backpack organized.

• Use packing cubes: Packing cubes are a great way to separate your clothes and organise your backpack. I like to use different coloured cubes to separate dirty clothes, clean clothes, underwear, and socks. This way, I can easily find my needs without digging through my backpack.

• Make use of the external pockets: Many travel backpacks come with external pockets perfect for storing things like water bottles, umbrellas, and shoes. This helps free up space inside your backpack and keeps things organized.

• Use the compression straps: Compression straps are a great way to keep your backpack compact and prevent it from bulging. I like to use the compression straps on my backpack to make it as small as possible, especially when I’m travelling on a budget airline and need to fit it in the overhead bin.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Travel Backpack

Choosing a travel backpack is an investment; you don’t want to mess it up like any investment. If you make a mistake, you’ll have to return the backpack or sell it and buy a new one. Plus, if you’re travelling, you won’t have time to wait for a new backpack to arrive.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when choosing a travel backpack.

Personal Testimonials and Reviews from Travelers

Lastly, after researching and narrowing your search to a few backpacks, check out the reviews.

It’s always best to get a real opinion from someone who has used the backpack. You can find reviews on the backpacks’ websites, but I also like to look for reviews on Amazon and REI.

Final Decision: Choosing the Right Size for Your Needs

The last step in this guide is to decide what size travel backpack is right for you. This decision depends on your needs and the type of travelling you plan.

If you need extra help, we’ve created a quick summary of each size to help you decide what’s best.

Daypacks are perfect for short trips, business travellers, and digital nomads who need a place to hold their laptops and a few essentials. They also make great personal items for long-term travellers, but you may want to go up in size if you need to carry a lot of gear.

20-30L backpacks are perfect for weekend trips, city travellers, and anyone who plans to use them as a personal item. This site is also great for long-term travellers who want a smaller backpack for day trips.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts: The Perfect Travel Backpack Size for You.
woman standing beside seashore

In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know to choose the perfect size travel backpack for your trip. From how to measure your torso to how to choose the right backpack size for your trip.

We’ve also looked at the best-size backpacks for different types of travel, including carry-on-size backpacks, daypacks, and more.

Now it’s time to choose the perfect size travel backpack for your next adventure! If you’re unsure where to start, I recommend looking at the Osprey Farpoint 40, my all-time favourite travel backpack.

This 40L backpack is the perfect size for most trips and comes with a handy zip-off daypack that makes it easy to explore your destination without lugging around your main pack.


We hope you enjoyed this article and found it to be helpful. Choosing the right size travel backpack is a big and overwhelming decision. We hope our ultimate guide has helped you!

We encourage you to check our product line for a new travel backpack. The BirkSun Atlas is the perfect size travel backpack and can be used for everyday use, work, travel, and more. It’s a versatile and stylish backpack with a built-in solar charger to keep your devices powered up on the go.

For more information about the BirkSun Atlas or to browse our other backpacks, visit our website.

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