How to Choose a Backpack for Camping

Backpacking is an exhilarating outdoor activity that allows you to connect with nature, explore new trails, and camp in breathtaking locations. Choosing the right backpack is one of the most crucial aspects of preparing for a camping trip. Your backpack will be your trusty companion, carrying all your essential gear and supplies throughout your adventure. 

Investing time and effort into selecting a backpack that meets your specific needs, fits comfortably on your body, and withstands the demands of the wilderness is essential. This article will discuss the key factors to consider when choosing a backpack for camping.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Backpack for Camping

1. Capacity and Size

The capacity of a backpack refers to the amount of gear it can hold, typically measured in liters. The appropriate backpack capacity for your camping trip depends on the duration of your trip and the gear requirements. For shorter trips, a backpack with a smaller capacity of around 30-50 liters may be sufficient, while longer trips may require a larger backpack with a capacity of 50 liters or more.

It’s also important to consider the size of the backpack in relation to your body. Backpacks come in different sizes, and choosing a size that fits well on your body is crucial to ensure comfort and stability while hiking. Most backpacks are available in different sizes based on torso length, which is the distance between your hips and shoulders. 

To determine your torso length, measure the distance from the base of your neck to the top of your hips. This measurement will help you choose a backpack with the appropriate torso length to ensure a proper fit.

2. Weight and Material

The weight of your backpack itself can significantly impact your comfort and mobility while hiking. It’s important to consider the weight of the backpack, especially if you’ll be carrying it for long distances or over challenging terrain. Look for backpacks made from lightweight materials such as nylon or polyester, and avoid backpacks with unnecessary features or heavy frames that can add unnecessary weight.

The material of the backpack is also crucial in terms of durability and weather resistance. Backpacks are often exposed to various weather conditions, including rain, snow, and harsh sunlight, and it’s essential to choose a backpack made from durable and weather-resistant materials. Look for backpacks with reinforced stitching, water-resistant coatings, and sturdy zippers to ensure your gear stays safe and dry during your camping trip.

3. Comfort and Fit

Comfort and fit are paramount when it comes to choosing a backpack for camping. A poorly fitting backpack can cause discomfort, pain, and even injuries, while a well-fitted backpack can provide stability and support, allowing you to hike comfortably for extended periods. It’s crucial to try on different backpacks and assess their comfort and fit before making a decision.

Look for backpacks with adjustable shoulder straps, hip belts, and sternum straps that allow you to customize the fit to your body. The shoulder straps should be wide and padded, distributing the weight evenly across your shoulders, while the hip belt should rest comfortably on your hips to transfer the weight from your shoulders to your hips. The sternum strap helps to stabilize the backpack and prevent it from shifting while hiking.

Additionally, look for backpacks with ventilation features such as mesh panels or channels that allow air to circulate between your back and the backpack, reducing sweating and discomfort. Proper ventilation can greatly enhance your comfort during hot or strenuous hikes.

It’s also important to consider the padding and cushioning in the backpack. Look for backpacks with adequate padding in the shoulder straps, hip belts, and back panels to provide cushioning and reduce pressure points. However, keep in mind that too much padding can add unnecessary weight to the backpack, so find a balance between comfort and weight.

4. Features and Organization

The organization of a backpack can greatly impact your camping experience. Look for backpacks with multiple pockets, compartments, and attachment points to help you stay organized and easily access your gear. Pockets and compartments can be used to store items such as water bottles, snacks, a map, or a first aid kit, while attachment points can be used to secure items such as trekking poles or a sleeping pad.

Consider if additional features are necessary for your camping trip. For example, if you plan to camp in rainy or wet conditions, a backpack with a built-in rain cover can be a valuable feature to keep your gear dry. If you need to carry a hydration system, look for a backpack with a dedicated hydration bladder compartment and hose ports for easy access to water on the go. Some backpacks also come with a separate compartment for a sleeping bag, which can help keep your gear organized and easily accessible.

5. Brand and Price

The brand and price of a backpack are important factors to consider when selecting a backpack. Research reputable backpack brands known for their quality and reliability. Look for customer reviews and ratings to get an idea of performance and durability. Choosing a backpack from a reputable brand can give you peace of mind knowing you are investing in a reliable product that will likely last multiple camping trips.

While it’s important to consider your budget, keep in mind that a backpack is an investment in your comfort and safety during your camping trips. Cheaper backpacks may need more durability, comfort, and features of higher-priced backpacks, which can affect your overall camping experience. Find a balance between your budget and the need for a durable and functional backpack that meets your camping requirements.

6. Personal Preference and Testing

Personal preference plays a role in choosing a backpack as well. Consider factors such as style, color, and a design that aligns with your personal preferences. After all, you’ll be using the backpack for your camping adventures, and it’s important to choose one that you find visually appealing and reflects your personal style.

It’s also crucial to test the backpack before making a final decision. Load the backpack with the weight you expect to carry during your camping trip and try it on. Walk around, hike, and test the backpack’s comfort, fit, and stability. Adjust straps to ensure a proper fit and assess if the backpack feels comfortable.

ALSO READ: How to Choose a Messenger Bag for Travel


Choosing the right backpack for camping is essential for a successful and comfortable camping trip. Consider factors such as capacity and size, weight and material, comfort and fit, features and organization, brand and price, and personal preference and testing.

Thorough research, trying on different backpacks, and testing them with weight can help you find the perfect backpack that meets your camping needs. Invest in a high-quality backpack with durability, comfort, and functionality to ensure an enjoyable and memorable camping experience.