How To Choose The Right Backpack For A Trek

Buying a backpack that suits you is almost as important as buying a shoe that suits you. Your backpack is like a companion throughout your trek. It’s either going to make your trek a pleasurable one or is going to be a burden to you. To make sure you buy the right kind of backpack, here are some tips.

brahmatal - how to buy a backpack - indiahikes
Having the right backpack on a trek is as important as having the right shoe. Picture by Raghavendra SN

What capacity of the backpack should you go for?

The first thing to do is consider the total weight you are going to carry. This will depend upon the duration of the trek. Are you going for a day trek without overnight camping? Or are you camping for multiple days? Are you planning to take your backpack for summit climbs and difficult terrains that require carrying more gear?

One-day treks can be done with day packs. They are light weight, sturdy enough to carry 5 kg of load. Always look for one with a hip belt to distribute the weight evenly. They come in 20 to 30 L (litre) sizes.

Longer treks require backpacks with greater capacity, like 40, 50 and 60 L. These bags can carry gear ranging from 8 to 13 kg. They come with wider straps and hip belts to help you distribute weight evenly and minimize discomfort. A 40-50 L backpack may suffice for a weekend trek. A trek up that’s around five days long can be done with a 60 L backpack.

Expedition treks that are more than a week long will require you to carry more load. Hence, they require more durable backpacks that can carry extra heavy loads. Expedition Backpacks come in various sizes of 70, 80, 90 L and can carry loads from 15 to 30 kg. They have a durable internal frame made of aluminium or stainless steel. This also adds to the weight. The trade off over weight and durability is based on the use of the backpack. Go for light frame backpacks for short and easy treks. For long and difficult treks, go for durable backpacks.

Brahmatal - how to choose the right backpack - Indiahikes
It is important to choose a backpack according to your height. Here’s Trek Leader Vishal with his backpack on the Brahmatal trek. Picture by Vishwajeet Chauhan

How do you choose the right backpack for your height?

Once you have decided which type of backpack to buy, get your torso measured. Backpacks these days come with specifically designed sizes, based on different body sizes. Take a measuring tape and start measuring from the back of your neck, right where you feel a prominent vertebra protruding out, and where your shoulders meet your neck. Put your hands on your hips and feel the top of the hip bone. Spread your thumbs out towards your spine. Have someone measure this imaginary line between your thumbs. This will give you your torso length. The following chart will help you in selecting the right size.

backpack size

Tips to choose the right backpack

1. Try your backpack and inspect its straps by loosening them. Start with the hip belt. The top of your hips should be anywhere from the middle to the top of the waist belt. Ensure you have at least one inch of adjustment to either tighten or loosen the belt.  Now, test the lower shoulder belts by pulling them up. Look for a good consistent curve of this strap around your shoulder front to back. Inspect how wide the shoulder straps are across the chest. Now load the straps on top of your shoulder straps. You can adjust the angle of these straps as they come off the shoulder straps. An ideal angle would be 45 degree. Keep the angle in between 25 to 60 degree at all times. You can always adjust these straps while trekking uphill or downhill to help you be more comfortable with your backpack.

2. Toss in some weight in your backpack when testing it.

3. Inspect the features of the backpack and align it with your needs. Do you need a backpack with lightweight material, compartment for hydration pack, better ventilation system, more compartments for keeping essential gears.

If you have any questions, just drop in a comment below. We’ll help you out with further tips!

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Vaibhav Chauhan

Vaibhav Chauhan

Vaibhav was associated with Indiahikes as a Writer & Chief Explorer. He is an avid traveler with a passion for trekking in Indian Himalayas. With his roots in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh, the love for the mountains is in his blood. When not travelling he likes to spend time interacting with like-minded trek enthusiasts and read books on travel and mountaineering.

61 thoughts on “How To Choose The Right Backpack For A Trek

    1. Hi Swati you could go to Wildcraft stores and take a look at their collection. If not that go to Decathlon and have a look.

  1. Hi,

    How do i come to a conclusion saying which bag or in term of liters 40 to 60 liters will be suitable for treks for 4 to 6 , 6 to 11 Days?

    1. Hi Dheeraj, if you pick something like a 50-55 litre backpack, it won’t be too big for the 6 day trek and it won’t be too small for an 11 day trek. While you can carry enough for 6 days in a 40 L backpack, it won’t suffice for a 11 day trek. Also, 70-80L will be too big for a shorter trek. So go for something in between, which would be 50-55 L.

    1. You’ll find it only on online stores. It is cheapest if you can ask someone from the USA to bring it along with them. But you’ll find it even on amazon.in.

  2. Hi Indiahikes,
    I am going to Rupin pass, I am worried about the bag size as to which bag size should i prefer for this trek, I get confused every time I visit the website to buy a bag.

    Please help me out as soon as possible.

    1. Hi Kartikey, I would suggest you pick up a 55-60L backpack. This would be the ideal sized backpack for any 6-10 day trek.

  3. Heya!
    I’m going to Valley Of Flowers for 8 days. I’m confused about the bag size as to which bag size should I buy? 60 ltrs or 70 ltrs?

    1. Hi Aditi, a 50-60 litre backpack should be enough. 70L would be a bit too much. Usually, the more space you have in your backpack, the more unwanted things you tend to fill in it. So it is best to take a backpack of smaller capacity.

  4. Hi !

    I am going for my first Himalayan trek in September. I have registered for the Har ki Dun trek. I was wondering what would be the ideal backpack for this trek and for the many more to come (hopefully) ? 🙂

    Thanks
    Vishal

    1. Hi Vishal the ideal size of your backpack would be around 55-60 litres. It will suit this trek and longer treks as well. Deuter, Teton, Wildcraft – they all have study and nicely engineered backpacks. 🙂

        1. Hi Surjayan

          If you are trekking for more than 5 days then I suggest you buy the 60L backpack. Or go in for a 55L if you find one. Else, the 60L backpack should be ideal for both weekend treks and multiple day treks.

    1. Hi Dev
      If if you are planning to go on longer treks I would suggest you buy a 55L backpack. If not, this will definitely serve the purpose for a 3 day trek.

    1. Hi Aman it’s hard to say how much lesser it’s going to be. If you’re ordering it on a website in the USA and having it delivered here, then it will cost about the same as in India. But if you are asking someone you know to bring the backpack and saving on the delivery costs, then the cost comes down considerably – it is usually in thousands. It depends a lot on the brand, the model and how old or new it is. Look on both Indian and USA websites and then take a call.

  5. I have a seemingly silly question….I am 47 years old female and trekking for the first time…I am looking out for a good small day backpack which is comfortable. I bought Arpenaz 20L but it is hurting my lower back. Wanted to know if Wildcraft Annapurna 15 lt would be more comfortable. I am 5ft 1′ .
    I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi Rani, this is not a silly question at all. Maybe try using the hip belt on the backpack while carrying a heavy load. Also adjust the straps to make the backpack fit snugly on you. If you make it droop it is likely to hurt you. Else, you could go in for the Wildcraft one.

  6. Hi,
    I am going for Gaumukh-Tapovan trek in early October this year. I want to buy a rucksack for that. I am 6 feet tall guy. This is going to be my first actual trek. What are my options to choose a perfect rucksack?

    1. Hello Mayukh
      The Deuter backpacks are good. Even the Teton backpacks come with adjustable straps. So you can adjust them to the length of your torso.

  7. Hello Indiahikes,

    I want a 60-70L rucksack. Which one to buy quechua or Wildcraft. Which one will be more durable and comfortable for a 10 day trek. Can’t afford teton or deuter. And thanks for providing such a important info on your site. Really appreciable.

  8. Hi I am going for Hampta Pass . I assume I need 60L backpack.But,I assume I may want to go for longer duration trek in future. Since I want to buy only one for all. Can I go for 70L ones.

    1. Hi Vasanth
      You could go for 70L backpack too. Depends on how much you want to spend buying one. I would suggest you a buy a good quality one of 60L than a 70L that isn’t high on quality. If you feel you might be trekking for longer days then sure, go ahead and buy one! But I still recommend to go for just the 60L backpack.

  9. Hello Indiahikes, I will be coming for bungyal trek in october but I am confused….wildcraft or quechua for backpack ? I’ll be buying 60L
    You guys are awesome…Addressing all our queries with such regard! thanks india hikes…

  10. Hi Swathi, have you heard of Olive Gecko bags. How are they quality wise? and which one would you suggest for a weekend trek and 6 -8 days trek.

    1. Hi Rohit
      We haven’t used this particular brand so can’t say anything about it. I would suggest you carry a 50-55L backpack for a 6-8 day trek.

    1. Hello Rohan
      Yes it will be fine for the Dayara Bugyal trek. You just have to make sure you pack all your essentials properly. If you’re planning to buy a bigger backpack just for Dayara Bugyal I’d advice you against it. But if you plan on going for treks that are longer than 6 days then you might want to buy a 55-70 litre backpack.

  11. Hi!
    I’m doing the Chopta Trek in end of September.
    I’m confused about the size of the backpack.
    It’s a 5 day trek. And I have already purchased a 18ltr back and a duffel bag. I was thinking of carrying both. And leaving the duffel bag at the campsite and carry the backpack with the essentials for the day trek. Please recommend.
    Thank you.

  12. Hi
    I have registered for the 7days dzongri top trek in October. I already have a wildcraft 40L backpack with me. Would this be enough for a 7days long trek or should i arrange a bigger one?

    1. Hello Dhanush
      Nylon is durable and light but it is also quite expensive. You can always go for a polyester backpack which works just as well especially if you aren’t trekking regularly.

  13. Team,

    I am going to trek to the Himalayas for the first time, may be a 7 day trek. I have previously trekked in Western Ghats mountain range, but have never trekked in the Himalayas. I am a solo traveler usually, and I carry my own tent (3.8 KGs), sleeping bags etc. I already have this one –

    https://www.decathlon.in/p/8383137_escape-mens-lockable-hiking-backpack-70-litre-grey.html#/6303-132-70l
    But this is a bit heavier when it’s packed with all the gears. Could you please tell me if this should be okay for a solo Himalayan trek or should I go for a lighter one? If you think that I should go for a lighter one, then kindly suggest a make and model.

    1. Hey Somanth
      This should work for a 7 day trek. Don’t worry about the weight, you can manage it well with wearing your hip belt and adjusting your straps properly so it fits you well.

  14. Hi,
    do you thin 40 liter backpacks like forclaz air 40 from decathlon or similar sized backpacks would be enough for a 4-5 days trek ?

    1. Hello Subhradip
      A 40L backpack will suffice for a 4-5 day trek. Infact, you will be able to pack more efficiently if you have a smaller backpack. But it may not be enough for any long treks like a 8-9 day trek if you have planned any for the future.

  15. Hey
    I am 5ft 9in boy and i am not that much healthy(50kg)
    I look thin
    Now with my friend i am visiting shimla for 8 day tour so which rucksack should i purchase 45lt or 55 lit..
    I am bit confuse that if 55 lit would look big on me thats the reason and 45 lit wildcraft bag does not provide that much compartments to keep my shoes and stuff.
    So plz help me to take bag which lit will suit me..
    It will be a lot more helpfull

    1. Hey Hardik
      Both will be just fine for you. Buy a 55 litre one if you want to go on a long trek someday. Infact, you’re right. A 55 litre backpack will work better for you as it will definitely have more space to keep more things. I am not sure about the compartments you are talking about. The idea is to take essentials and no unnecessary things while travelling. If it is an 8 day tour then 55 litres is a better deal.

  16. Hi,
    I am Aniruddha. I am looking for a backpack around 50 Lt -55Lt capacity. My budget is low as Rs/- 2000. I have seen Forclaz 50 backpack at Decathlon store. But I realised that it’s fabric quality and Padding is not good as long duration or long time trek. Is there any another Comfortable, Good quality backpack within Rs/- 2000. I can increase my budget to Rs/- 2500. Please inform me.

    Thanks…
    Aniruddha Pathak

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