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Pack Size Help


I am just getting into backpacking and have been borrowing my friend’s giant 75 L pack for overnight and weekend trips. I am ready to invest in my own pack but am having trouble deciding on a size. I am on a budget and looking for something versatile. While most of my trips will be 1-3 night trips in cool-hot weather (not extreme cold), I am hoping to take some longer trips in the future (7 days+). It seems that a 55-65 L pack is the sweet spot for versatility. And I have been looking at the REI traverse. However, I know most-if not all-of my tips in the near future will be weekenders at the longest. Is it overkill to buy a 65L pack when it will be used most frequently for overnighters? My biggest items to pack are my big Agnes frying pan 3 tent and a bulky sleeping bag. Otherwise I pack pretty light and am able to control myself with the amount I load up with. I hate to buy something way too big, but also don’t want to skimp on space now and regret it if I am able to take longer trips in the future. Also, I feel like because I have been carrying such a big pack, I am unable to compare it to a more appropriate capacity for the length of my trips. 

Thanks in advance!


3 Replies


One pack rarely does it all. You've got some good ideas, and i appreciate that you're trying to find a single solution, but differing lengths of trips call for different backpacks.  Too big and your stuff sloshes around, which is annoying at best. Too small and you won't be able to fit that extra warmth layer when the temperature drops. 

I generally get by with a 50-55L bag -- for me, that's the sweet spot. But it's too small for when really cold weather comes.

@Abi , friendly reminder, from our User Guidelines, that "only posts from a user with the “REI Employee” rank should be regarded as employee-generated content."

With that said, you've got great advice from both @Sweet-Tater and @REI-EthanS!


@Abi Welcome to the awesome world of backpacking!  Finding the right pack (size and fit) for yourself can be exciting and can be essential to enjoying your adventures.  Do you happen to live near an REI where an expert can help you find the right pack?  REI offers personalized outfitting services where you could bring along some of your gear you mentioned, and see how each pack works with the gear you already have and love. 

You can sign up for an outfitting appointment here, REI Outfitting

REI also offers workshops.  In workshops, people can gain all kinds of helpful knowledge to get the most out of their adventure and gear.  Some workshops I would recommend are, "How to Pack a Pack" and "Lightweight Backpacking."

You can find all the workshops in your area here, REI Workshops

The lineup of Workshops will vary by location.

Happy trails!!!



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