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

One-day treks can be done with day packs. They are lightweight, 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. You can use such a backpack on short weekend treks or day treks in the Western Ghats!

Longer treks

These 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. These backpacks are ideal for treks which are longer than a day or two and up to a week. For example, you can buy such backpacks for treks like – Hampta Pass, Valley of Flowers, Kashmir Great Lakes and Tarsar Marsar Trek

Read: Why Treks in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir are so different

Expedition treks

Trek that are more than a week-long such as the Rupin Pass Trek, Har Ki Dun Trek and Goechala Trek 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 Chart
Handy Size Chart for choosing backpacks

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 degrees. 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 when testing it – 

It’s always a good idea to test the backpack with some weight before buying it. You won’t be trekking with an empty backpack, therefore test the backpack with weight and see if you’re comfortable with the way the backpack distributes the weight.

3. Inspect the features and align them with your needs – 

Do you need a backpack with lightweight material, a compartment for a hydration pack, better ventilation system, more compartments for keeping essential gear.

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

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123 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. Hi Ramesh, in terms of the specs, it looks good. Going by the reviews as well, it looks ok. But I haven’t heard of the brand or seen anyone actually using it. Also, you don’t really need a 75L backpack. You could go for something around 55-60 litres. They are more compact, and more efficient for most Himalayan treks (if you’re not trekking on your own with tents / sleeping bags, etc).

        If you’re trekking with Indiahikes, I would more strongly recommend renting a backpack, because you get a much higher quality backpack at a lower price. You can rent it out here –

    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

  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) ? 🙂


    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. Hello,
        I hav enrolled under India hikes for the kedarkantha trek coming jan..
        Can you plz guide me wht kind of backpacks are recommended n from where to buy thm…. decath bags r too way high!

        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 Nithin,
            Which trek are you going on? Are you a frequent trekker? Do you already have a 50 ltd backpack?

    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 –
    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.

    Aniruddha Pathak

  17. Hi,
    I’m a passionate hiker. I would love to go for hiking that lasts for 7-10 days. My height is 5′ 10”. I thought of buying a rucksack from Quechua 60 ltr or 70 ltr.. Which one do you think it suits for my purpose. Like I think buying that 60+10(additional) would give a little bit of space for packing things comfortably. What do you suggest?

    1. Hi Ashikh,
      A 55-60 ltr backpack will suffice for a 7-10 days trek. The bigger the backpack, the more things you’ll tend to carry. This will make the bag heavy, shapeless and difficult to carry. The more compact your bag is, the better.

  18. hi i usually trek either solo or in a group of two or three and i never book thru trekking companies. I am having a decathlon 60 ltr backpack. I intend to carry cooking utensils and cooking stove in future with me. Is 60 ltr sufficient for me to carry for such treks which may end for 10 days or should i go for 70 ltrs.

    1. Hi Ashish,
      We suggest a 70 litre backpack for any solo trek longer than 7 days. Stove, utensils, tent, sleeping bag, cold layers will all take considerable space. You might also have to carry rations for 25 meals if it’s a 10+ days trek.
      Another option can be backpacks with extendable hood, like Wildcraft Gangotri 65 ltrs.

    1. Hi Arjun,
      IF you are not trekking to Kedarkantha in winter, this backpack will suffice since you have fewer warm layers to carry.

  19. Hi,
    Am going for a 6 days Dayara Bugyal trek in the month of May. I am 5’2″ tall and lean. Could you please suggest me the right capacity? Will 45L suffice or should I take more than that?

    1. Hi Jasmine,
      45ltrs bag will suffice on this trek in May since you do not need to carry as many warm layers as a winter trek. However, I would suggest a 55-60 ltr bag if you intend to go on longer treks in the future.

    1. Hi Neeraja,
      Buy the 55L backpack. The 30L will not be sufficient, considering you will also have to carry warm clothes – these occupy more space than regular clothes.

  20. Hi there. What size bag would you recommend for the Gamuk Tapovan Trek? I have a 35L ski touring backpack and would be very well suited but it won’t be big enough I dont think, I do have a larger size (osprey backpack 70L ) which I’ve used over the years but i feel that’s going to be too big . What would you suggest? Many thanks

    1. Hi Rose,
      If you have to choose between the two backpacks you have, I recommend the 70l. You’ll need to carry multiple warm layers which occupy a lot of space to you are right, the 35 l won’t suffice. If the backpack is big, we tend to pack more things than required so just stay alert about that while packing.

  21. Hi I am going for a 8 day leisure trek to Himachal. Can you please suggest a good quality rucksack to purchase. I plan on going for more treks in future.

    1. Hi Aanosh,
      Wildcraft Manasalu is a good, sturdy backpack that you can consider. We have used it on many treks and found it to be long lasting.

  22. Hello
    i am going for the trek for 7 days in uttarakhand. Can you please suggest me the rucksack size and what all things to be carried ?

    1. Hi Biju,
      We haven’t reviewed these shoes. But they have good ankle support and a good sole. They also seem to be partially waterproof, so they’ll be suitable for a trek.

    1. Hi Sai,
      This rucksack is more than enough for even a 10-12 day trek. You don’t need to buy a new one. You can use this from Roopkund and Brahmatal. Make sure you don’t overpack since this rucksack can fit a lot more than what you require for these treks.

  23. Hey,
    I am going to 10 day chadar trek in jan 2019
    and i am confused between the below 2 rucksacks could you please advise which brand should i prefer
    Wild-craft OR quechua. Considering the long time durability and back support (As i will be carrying my own bag)

    1. Hi Tejas, the Wildcraft backpack would be a better option. We have used Wildcraft backpacks on our treks and tested them. They do know how to make their backpacks. So go for that.

  24. Are metal frames required for a 6 day Brahmatal trek? I have a 50l bag right now but it does not have those metal frames. Just needed to know your thoughts.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Chetan, most backpacks come with internal frames. If you have used your backpack before on a long trek and found it comfortable, then go ahead and use it. If not, you could rent a backpack from us.

  25. Hi Swathi,

    I will be doing the Nag Tibba trek at the end of the month. The trek page suggests a 20-30L backpack, but I want to buy something that I can also use for longer treks I may do in the future (e.g. 5-6 day treaks like Kedarkantha). Can you suggest something that hits the sweet spot, i.e. not too big to carry for the Nag Tibba treak but can also be used for slightly longer treks?

    1. I would suggest a 55 litre backpack. If you’re going on a Himalayan trek on a weekend, especially in winter, you’ll still need the same number of warm layers as on a 4-5 day trek! So a 55 litre backpack will serve the purpose for any of these treks.

    1. By the description, the backpack works. But we’re not sure of the brand. You could test it and probably drop in your comments here. 🙂

  26. Hi I am going for a 8 day trek to Rupin pass . I plan on going for more treks in future(10 to 15 days).
    Actually i am looking for osprey backpack(60l) .
    Is it ok for my height 5.5″ (5 fit 5 inch) ?

    1. Hi Soumendra. the backpack should ideally suit you. Most backpacks these days come with the flexibility to adjust them to your torso. You’ll be able to do that with this backpack too.

  27. Hey,
    I wanted to ask one very silly question , Are Mount track (55lit.) bags are good enough or should I invest some more money and go for quechua forclaz 50 lit. Rucksack.
    Hope You clear my doubt.

  28. Hi,

    I am heading to Goecha La Trek , and was looking out for a backpack/rucksack
    I considered 2 options : Decathlon Forclaz 60L / Wildcraft Gangotri Plus 65L

    Please suggest which one would be a better buy in terms of durability and comfort.
    Thanks in advance.

  29. For kedarkantha trekk this December, what shoukd be ideal size of bagpack? Is 60L too much? Also do I need a metal support in bagpack?

    1. A 60 litre backpack would be too big. Choose a 50-55 litre backpack. It will be enough for all your future treks as well. 🙂

  30. Hi,
    I was looking for some information to create an infographic on Backpacking and came across your site.
    Very informative and thanks for taking the effort. After completing the infographics., I would like to share it.

    1. Hi Ben, we have seen lots of trekkers use this bag and have a comfortable trek. I think you can go ahead and pick it up!

      1. Hi swati is it durable, please suggest any rucksack with good shoulder strap. If you will provide the link it will be highly appreciated

        1. Hi Tejas, the Wildcraft backpack would be a better option. We have used Wildcraft backpacks on our treks and tested them. They do know how to make their backpacks. So go for that.