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What Size Bag for Backpacking?

Camping Equipment
Image by wetwebwork via Flickr

If your thinking about backpacking for a while e.g. over 2 months your decision about a backpack is a big one. Too small backpack and you have to carry another bag or throw away gear. Too big and you’ve wasted space and you’ll carry extra items you may not need. A great way to decide on what type of bag you need and what size is to do a sample pack.

A sample pack is basically packing your gear into an existing bag, friends bag or even down at your local store. This then gives you a benchmark before your buy your bag, or reaffirms you can use your current backpack.

Get a list of items you’ll be taking and pack them into your current bag. If you pack into 40 litre backpack and you fill it with still more gear to pack you’ll need a bigger bag. Alternatively if you finish packing and you have lots of room to spare you might want consider a smaller bag.

Remember, you want to have a little space for items you pick on your way and any food you need to carry. Often keeping to a small bag is a good if you have no packing discipline, e.g. you want to take everything including the kitchen sink. Having a small bag ensures you keep to the minimal items.

If you don’t have a sample bag to pack into then head down to your local camping / outdoors store with your gear and start packing! Best ask the staff before but that’s what the display models on the hangers are there for. In Manchester’s camping shops along Deansgate most of the staff are more than happy to help!