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3 Tips for choosing a backpack

3 Tips for choosing a backpack

Are you currently shopping for a backpack or just wondering what to look for when choosing a backpack? We compressed all of our knowledge into 3 crucial tips for choosing a backpack. With the help of these tips we try to make your life a bit easier. Expected reading time: 7 minutes.

3 Tips for choosing a backpack

Are you currently shopping for a backpack or just wondering what to look for when choosing a backpack? We compressed all of our knowledge into 3 crucial tips for choosing a backpack. With the help of these tips we try to make your life a bit easier. When you are done, do not forget to check our Kelty Europe backpacks. Expected reading time: 7 minutes.

If you lack the time to read the full article, maybe you can read the summary:

  1. Choose the right size; Smaller size backpacks(10-30 liters) for daytrips, medium size backpacks(30-50 liter) for weekend trips and bigger size backpacks(50+ liters) for multi-day hikes or expeditions.
  2. Measure your torso length; Getting the right fit is vital when you want to comfortably wear your backpack for an extended amount of time. The torso length is usually a given specification and the range should correspond with the length of your own torso. Use the other adjustment straps to further increase the wearing comfort.
  3. Choose which features matter to you; Ventilation features can reduce the discomfort due to a sweaty back when you are hiking. The ease of access and the layout of the compartments help you grab your equipment. External attachment points are used to store extra gear on the outside of your backpack.
  4. Accessories; There are two exceptionally useful accessories. A rain cover helps you to keep your equipment dry and a hydration pack can be used for storing water and drinking while you are hiking.


#1 Choose the right capacity

When you are orientating yourself for buying a backpack, you should keep in mind how many nights you are going to spend outside.

Day pack (10-30 liters)

Ideally, for day-to-day travel or just for visiting an event, you will not be needing more than 30 liters. If you are carrying items for your partner or for your kids, look for a backpack that is around 30 liters. If you are only carrying your own items you might want to look for a backpack that is between 10 and 20 liters. Backpacks with a lower capacity are usually used for running or cycling a longer distance.

Check out our daypacks.


Weekend pack (30-50 liters)

If you are planning to go to a festival for the weekend or on a short hiking trip in the mountains from 1 to 3 nights, we would advise a backpack with a capacity between 30 to 50 liters. Keep in mind that for a hiking trip you have to use lightweight materials if you want them to fit in these ‘smaller’ backpacks, which also requires structured packing skills. Luckily the development of lightweight gear never stops. Every year manufacturers seem to be able to make their products lighter than the year before.

Check out our Kelty weekend packs.


Multiday pack (50-80 liters)

There is a wide range of backpacks available for those who want to take hiking trips longer than 3 days. The capacity of backpacks that can provide you with everything you need for up to a 5 days is usually between 50 and 80 liters. These backpacks have an extensive amount of extra’s and extra thick padding for comfort. Other activities you could do with this type of backpack include: Backpacking trips through foreign countries, Backcountry skiing trips and shorter hiking trips if lightweight materials are above your budget.

Check out our Kelty muldiday packs.


Expedition pack (Larger than 70 liters)

When you are going on an expedition (in our definition here, that means more than 5 nights outside), we recommend having a backpack that is at least 70 liters or larger. It will still require you to have structured packing skill and in most cases also the use of lightweight gear. Check where you are going, which kind of weather you can expect and what your activities will be. In the winter you will need room in your backpack for extra warm clothing, a 4-season tent and a sleeping bag that holds you warm in freezing temperatures. Carrying the outside is because of the moist usually not the best idea.

Another reason for choosing an expedition backpack might be because you are travelling with a baby. Child-carriers lack the space for a lot of gear so the one who is not carrying the child will have to carry more.

Baby carrier pack

Baby carrier packs are separated from the other type of backpacks because they offer the unique feature to carry your baby in your backpack. Because the baby is sitting directly behind you, he or she is easy to carry and the load is transferred perfectly to your legs. Unfortunately this costs a lot of room where your otherwise would pack your gear. As written under the heading ‘Expedition pack’ this could mean your partner will have to carry a bigger backpack. Some features Baby Carrier packs usually have are a sunscreen and a rainscreen. Optionally you can remove some parts of the backpack for cleaning.


#2 Measure your torso length

It is easier to measure your torso length if you have someone to help you. The length you need to measure stretches from the bottom neck vertebrae (which sticks out when you move your head forward), to the top of your hips (called the iliac crest). Make sure you stand-up straight again before measuring.

The right size is vital for comfort

This cannot be expressed enough. Especially if you are planning on hiking some longer trips. It is one of the most vital parts of using your backpack comfortably during those hiking trips. With backpacks this is usually a given specification. If you cannot find it, ask for help. We are happy to provide you with personalized advise.

Normally you will wear most of the weight of the backpack on your hips, choosing the wrong torso length can cause you to have almost all the weight on your shoulder. You might not immediately notice this in the store or at home when the backpack is not filled with weight, but when it is full it can be very uncomfortable. Having a torso length which is too long can cause imbalance and difficulties adjusting the backpack to your body.

Adjustment options

After you find a backpack with the right torso length, you can start adjusting it to your body. In some backpacks you can start with adjusting the torso length to fit your back closely. After that, follow these steps:

  1. Put some weight in the backpack (around 5kg should be enough)
  2. Loosen all the straps slightly
  3. Put the backpack on and move the hip belt until it is at the top of your hip bones
  4. Close and tighten the straps of the hip belt and readjust it to fit snuggly around the top of your hip bones
  5. Tighten the shoulder straps so that the whole backpack embraces your back. If the length of the torso is correct, you should notice that the shoulder straps are not bearing much weight
  6. Tighten the load lifters. The shoulder straps should now also embrace your shoulders.
  7. The shoulder strap anchor points should be about 3 cm below the top of your shoulder and the connecting load lifters should be at an angle of 45 degrees.
  8. If you notice there is room between your shoulders and the shoulder straps it might be possible that the torso length is too long. If you can adjust the torso you should shorten it by a bit.
  9. If the angle of the load lifters is less than 45 degrees this usually means that the torso length is too long, try shortening it.
  10. At the front of the shoulder straps you will find the sternum strap. Adjust these in height so that they are positioned just below your collarbones.
  11. Tighten the sternum strap to set the shoulder straps. The sternum strap should be tight enough so that you can move your arms freely. If you tighten them too much it can restrict your breathing.
  12. After 10 kilometers you can readjust all the straps. Usually you keep adjusting your backpack as you go. Perfect adjustment changes continuously.


#3 Choose which features matter to you

There are a lot of special features you can find on backpacks. Each designed for specific activities and increasing the ease of use.


There are some packs which have ventilation build into their frame. These backpacks have a mesh backpanel and between that and the actual backpack some room for air to move freely. In the beginning this was reserved for only the smaller backpacks, but nowadays you can find it in almost every backpack. Ventilation can help by decreasing the amount you sweat, which in turn improves comfort while walking.

Easy access

The bigger the backpack, the more value you are likely to attach to easy access in your backpack. Some backpack have top-loading openings and some have a zippered front panel. Top-loading openings require you to really consider the way you are packing your backpack (somehow you always end up digging through your backpack because the item you need is right at the bottom). The zippered front panel makes this easier for you because you can always reach every item easily. There are also backpacks with a zippered side panel.


The most commonly used layout of backpacks consists of a large main compartment and a smaller bottom compartment for a sleeping bag. The top lid of backpacks in some cases can be used as a separate hip belt pack if you want to go on a daytrip without carrying your whole backpack. With bigger backpack you sometimes also can find side-compartments, helmet carrying compartment, crampon compartment and compartment on your hip belt. See which compartments suit your need.

External attachment points

With external attachment points you can stow away hiking poles, climbing equipment or other gear on the outside of your backpack. If you are on longer hikes you can also attach some clothing after washing for drying on the go.

Check out the complete collection of Kelty Europe Backpacks.



There are two accessories for a backpack I would like to highlight because they are really useful. Check if these are included in your backpack. If not, you can purchase them separately.

Rain cover; A rain cover helps keeping the items in your backpack dry. A backpack is usually treated to be water repellent, but water can seep through zipper or seams. A rain cover prevents this. We also recommend using waterproof dry sacks when you expect to be walking in downpours for an extended amount of time. Check out the Kelty Europe Rain Cover.

Hydration pack; Hydration packs integrated in your backpack greatly increase the ease of carrying water and drinking. Most backpacks nowadays have a separate compartment specifically for a hydration pack, which you can buy separately.

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Ordered before 16.00, shipped today
Gratis verzending & retour binnen Nederland en België
Easy and safe payment options
Wide range of outdoor products