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Backpack Size Chart

Camping, hiking, fishing and hunting backpack sizes and capacities illustration

Whether you’re exploring the outdoors a few hours or several days, every ounce you carry with you makes a difference. That’s why you need a backpack that is large enough for your gear and essentials, but not so large that you end up carrying around unnecessary weight from the pack itself.

If you know how much gear you need to carry, it can be helpful to lay it all out and see visually how much space you will need to carry it. But even as you are still assembling your gear, there are solid rules of thumb for backpack sizes for different activities. The following charts will help you determine the best backpack size for your next camping, hiking, hunting, or fishing trip.

Camping Backpack Sizes

If you are car camping, a small (10-20 L) backpack for essentials will improve your day hikes. If you are planning to carry all of your gear and essentials in your pack, the pack sizes are largely determined by the amount of time you’ll be traveling (and thus the amount of food you need to bring), and range from 20-90 L. Camping expeditions requiring specialty gear will require the largest packs (90+ L).

Camping backpack size illustration
Backpack Size (liters) Use Contents
10-20 Day hike essentials Essentials such as hydration, snacks, maps, and a first-aid kit
20-40 Overnight essentials Sleeping bag, a tent, stove, cookware, and food
50-65 Weekend essentials Additional clothing, more food, and other camping gear
70-90 Extended trips Additional food, gear for varying weather conditions, and additional safety supplies like a radio
90+ Expedition use Expedition use may require equipment like specialized climbing gear, ropes, and tools

Hiking Backpack Sizes

When you’re hiking, you always need to bring essentials like water, food, first aid, and navigation. A 10-20 L day pack will cover these essentials. The longer you’re hiking, and especially if you’ll be hiking overnight or for multiple nights, the larger you will need your pack to be. Overnight trips require 20-40 L, while multiday and extended trips will need 40-60+ L backpacking packs.

hiking backpack sizes
Backpack Size (liters) Use Contents
10-20 Day hike essentials Essentials like water, snacks, maps, rain gear, and a first-aid kit
20-40 Overnight essentials Include extra clothing, a sleeping bag, maybe a small tent, camp stove, and adequate water capacity
40-60 Multi-day trips Additional clothing, more food and water, a backpacking tent, sleeping pad, and possibly a filtration system
60+ Extended expeditions Extended expeditions may require more specialized gear like crampons, ice axes, and sturdy backpacks with adequate suspension systems

Hunting Backpacks

Hunters need all the same essentials as hiking (such as food, water, and navigation), plus crucial gear for the hunt itself, like ammunition and optics. This is why packs for day hunts will be significantly larger than those for day hikes, with a recommended 30-50 L hunting pack. If you’ll be sleeping outdoors over multiple days, or going on expeditions that require specialty gear, your pack will need to be larger still. Consider 50-90 L for multi-day hunts and even larger for expedition hunts.

Hunting backpack sizes illustration
Backpack Size (liters) Use Contents
30-50 Day hunts Ammunition, extra layers of clothing, hunting gloves, binoculars, or a small optics kit
50-90 Multi-day hunts Additional food, clothing, hunting items—for example, a larger hunting knife, and camping essentials such as tents, sleeping bags, and fire starters
90+ Expedition hunts Expedition hunts require carrying all necessary hunting equipment, specialized camping gear, and a full load of food and water

Fishing Backpack Sizes

If you’re just popping out for a quick trip to the water, a 10-20 L fishing pack can carry your essentials and a small tackle box. A 20-30 L pack will help you carry more gear for a full-day trip. Overnight and multi-day trips will need more space for your shelter, with 30-40+ L recommended.

fishing backpack sizes illustration
Backpack Size (liters) Use Contents
10-20 Short day trips Small tackle box, water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent
20-30 Day trips Medium tackle box, extra clothing, lunch, water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, first aid kit
30-40 Overnight trips Large tackle box, sleeping bag, extra clothing, food, water, stove, cooking gear, tent
40+ Multi-day trips Multiple tackle boxes, fishing rod, camping gear, food, water, cooking gear, tent, sleeping bag, extra clothing

Note: Backpack size should also be determined by your body size/frame, strength, endurance and overall health. You never want to purchase a backpack that is going to create undue stress.