Choosing the correct backpack size is important as carrying weight incorrectly on your back can cause pain on your spine and shoulders. A study done at Stanford reports that carrying a heavy backpack “can cause severe deterioration of the lumbar on your spine” (Hossain & Tonima).
A study done at Stanford reports that carrying a heavy backpack “can cause severe deterioration of the lumbar on your spine” (Hossain & Tonima). Not to mention the mental stress of constantly fiddling with unnecessary zippers and attempting to find chapstick in a Mary Poppins size bag.
The right backpack size is one that fits along your torso and ends right on your hip. Typically measurements for your torso length and hip size are used, but we can also find the right fit by looking at your height and the types of items you'll be carrying in your backpack.
To find your perfect bag size, take our 5 question Bag Fit Finder, which you'll be able to complete in under 60 seconds:
How Backpack Volume is Measured
Volume calculations for bags are done by measuring how much a bag can hold as opposed to dimensions that identify what you can put in it. Volume calculations show how many liters of space available, whereas dimensions show the length and width of items that would fit. Both aspects are equally important.
The volume of a bag is calculated by measuring the available capacity including all pockets and sections of the bag. In other words, imagine filling a bag and all of its compartments with water and then measuring how much water (in liters) is poured back out.
However, if only dimensions are given, then multiplication of the dimensions will give you cubic inches, which can then be converted into liters. For example, a bag that is 24” by 16” by 9” would be 3456 cubic inches, which is 56.63 liters The intended use of the backpack determines the number of liters needed.
Best Work Backpack Size
A good work backpack is around twenty to thirty-five liters, allowing for enough space to carry essential items like a laptop, books, office supplies, lunch tupperware, etc. This usually has two large main compartments, a laptop sleeve, and cup holders. This is the right capacity for someone who uses a coworking space and essentially carries an office in their backpack.
Best Travel Backpack Size
Backpacks for traveling are around thirty-five to forty-five liters. There is usually one main compartment with a laptop sleeve and at least one front pocket for easy retrieval of tickets and ID cards. This backpack needs to be large enough to fit all the essentials for traveling, while also avoiding unpleasant issues with the airlines and their policies. After all, your backpack should stay in a seat with you, not to be at the mercy of airline crews.