What Size Hiking Pack Do I Need?

What Size Hiking Pack Do I Need?

When venturing into the hiking world, having the right gear is essential. The hiking pack is a crucial piece of equipment that can significantly impact your outdoor experience. Choosing the appropriate size hiking pack is essential for ensuring comfort, convenience, and the ability to carry all your necessities. This article will describe how to determine your ideal hiking pack size based on your individual needs and offer helpful advice for making that determination.

Understanding the Importance of Choosing the Right Hiking Pack

A well-fitted hiking pack can make a world of difference during your outdoor adventures. It provides storage for your gear and helps distribute the weight evenly, reducing strain on your body. The right pack size ensures that you can comfortably carry all your essentials, allowing you to focus on enjoying the journey rather than dealing with discomfort or fatigue.

How to Choose the Right Size Backpack for Your Hike

Assessing Your Needs and Preferences

Before selecting a hiking pack size, consider the specific requirements of your hiking trips. Are you a minimalist hiker who prefers travelling light, or do you enjoy longer excursions requiring additional gear and supplies? Understanding your needs and preferences will guide you in choosing the appropriate pack size.

Determining the Duration of Your Hikes

The duration of your hikes plays a crucial role in selecting the right hiking pack size. Short-day hikes only require a smaller pack with a capacity of 20-30 litres, while multi-day treks necessitate a larger pack of 50-70 litres or more.

Evaluating the Volume and Capacity of a Hiking Pack

Hiking packs come in various volumes, typically measured in litres. Consider the volume required to accommodate your essentials, such as clothing, food, water, sleeping gear, and any additional equipment specific to your activities.

Evaluating the Size for Hiking Pack

Ensure the pack’s capacity aligns with the volume you anticipate needing.

Considering the Type of Hiking Activities

Different hiking activities may require different pack sizes, and a smaller pack will suffice if you primarily engage in day hikes or fastpacking. However, a larger pack with sufficient storage capacity is essential if you’re planning longer backpacking trips or mountaineering expeditions.

Choosing the Right Size Based on Torso Length

When selecting a hiking pack, it’s essential to consider your torso length. The torso length is a person’s height from the nape of the neck to the crease of the hips. Hiking packs are often available in different sizes to accommodate various torso lengths. Choosing the right size based on your torso length ensures a comfortable fit and proper weight distribution. Here’s how to determine the appropriate size:

Measure Your Torso Length:

The C7 vertebra, the bony projection at the base of your neck when you lean your head forward, is the starting point for measuring your torso length. Put your hands on your hips, thumbs facing your spine, and feel for the tops of your hip bones.

Right size of hiking pack based on torso length

Take a vertical measurement from your C7 vertebra to the top of your hips with a flexible measuring tape.

Consult the Size Chart:

Hiking pack manufacturers usually provide size charts that correlate torso length with the appropriate pack size. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended size range for your torso length.

Try On Different Sizes:

  • Visit an outdoor retailer or gear shop that offers a variety of hiking packs.
  • Try on packs within the size range recommended for your torso length.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps, hip belts, and load lifters according to your measurements.

Check for Proper Fit:

With the pack on, assess the fit. The shoulder straps should rest comfortably on your shoulders without digging into your skin. The hip belt should be worn low on the hips (as opposed to high on the waist) and fastened securely enough to shift the pack’s load to the hips. Make sure the pack doesn’t sag or pull you back too much.

Test the Range of Motion:

  • While wearing the pack, move around and simulate hiking motions.
  • Check if you have a full range of motion in your arms and if the pack remains stable and balanced on your back.
  • If the pack feels uncomfortable or restricts your movement, try a different size or adjust the straps further.

Remember, torso length is just one aspect of finding the right pack size. Consider other factors like volume, capacity, and the type of hiking activities you engage in. A properly fitted hiking pack will provide the necessary support, distribute weight evenly, and allow you to enjoy your hiking adventures comfortably and easily.

Taking Into Account the Weight Distribution

Proper weight distribution is vital for comfort and stability while hiking. Opt for a hiking pack that allows you to adjust and distribute the weight evenly across your hips and shoulders. This prevents strain on your back and ensures a more enjoyable hiking experience.

Considering Additional Features and Accessories

Hiking packs offer various features and accessories that can enhance your outdoor experience. Consider features like multiple compartments, hydration compatibility, compression straps, and external attachment points for gear such as trekking poles or ice axes. These additional features can affect the overall size and functionality of the pack, so factor them into your decision-making process.

Tips for Properly Fitting a Hiking Pack

Finding a hiking pack that fits you well is crucial for comfort and preventing discomfort or injury. To help you get the right fit, consider these suggestions:

Measure Your Torso Length: Most hiking packs are available in different sizes based on torso length. The length of your body from your neck’s nape to the top of your hips is a rough indicator of your height.

Adjust the Shoulder Straps: Once your pack is on, adjust the shoulder straps to ensure a snug but not overly tight fit. The straps mustn’t dig into your shoulders or cause discomfort.

Secure the Hip Belt: The hip belt should sit on your hips, not on your waist. Adjust the tension to shift the burden from your shoulders and back to your hips, where it belongs.

Check for Proper Load Lifters: Shoulder straps’ higher ends are attached to the pack’s top via load lifters. The pack will be more stable, and your weight will be evenly distributed if you tilt them slightly.

Finding the Right Size Through Trial and Error

Selecting the perfect hiking pack size may require some trial and error. Visit a reputable outdoor retailer and try on different packs, considering your measurements, needs, and preferences. Load the pack with weight to simulate a real hiking experience and walk around the store to assess its comfort and fit.

Understanding the Importance of Adjustability

Flexibility and adjustability are essential for a hiking pack. Look for packs with adjustable shoulder straps, hip belts, and load lifters. These features allow you to fine-tune the fit to your specific body shape and size, ensuring optimal comfort and load distribution.

Exploring Different Pack Sizes for Specific Hiking Trips

It’s worth considering owning multiple hiking packs of varying sizes to cater to different types of hiking trips. A smaller pack is ideal for day hikes or overnight adventures, while a larger pack becomes necessary for longer backpacking trips or expeditions that require carrying more gear and supplies.


Choosing the right size hiking pack is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience. Consider your needs, the duration of your hikes, volume requirements, and your activities. Pay attention to proper fit, weight distribution, and adjustability. Creating a custom hiking pack that fits you well and gives you the confidence to take on the trails is a worthwhile endeavour, but it may take some time and effort.


Can I use a larger size hiking pack for shorter hikes?

Absolutely! While it may seem excessive, using a larger pack allows for more flexibility and potential expansion in the future. Just pack it appropriately and adjust the straps for a proper fit.

Can I use a hiking pack for other activities like travelling or commuting?

Hiking packs can be versatile and used for various purposes, including travelling or commuting. However, consider features like laptop compartments or airport-friendly designs if you plan to use them for non-hiking activities.

How do I clean and maintain my hiking pack?

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your pack. Generally, spot cleaning with mild soap and water and air drying is recommended. Regular maintenance includes inspecting for any wear or damage and ensuring all straps and buckles are in good working condition.

Can I rent hiking packs instead of purchasing one?

Yes, renting hiking packs is a viable option, especially if you’re starting or have infrequent hiking needs. It allows you to test different pack sizes and models before purchasing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *