People often don’t attach importance to the choice of travel backpack, or simply choose by “design”, “color” or “brand”, which will bring “problems” later. Choosing the backpack that suits your height, weight, and physical build will prevent you from damaging your spine and shoulders, and it will be easier and more comfortable to carry throughout your trip.

Despite the fact that in recent years the technology applied to backpacks has improved a lot, many people do not use it and buy without being informed beforehand. Since the sellers have little knowledge about backpacks, you should know how to choose your ideal backpack.

how to choose the best travel backpack

So… what aspects should you take into account when choosing a backpack?

  • Backpack size and design
  • Belt + lumbar support
  • Compression, adjustment, and pectoral stabilizer straps
  • Frame
  • Back
  • Shoulder pads

How to choose the travel backpack?

There are many things that you must take into account when choosing a travel backpack, so take good note and choose the one that best suits you.

Size and Design of the Backpack

When choosing a backpack, remember that backpacks are measured in volume capacity, that is, how much space the backpack has and not how much weight it supports (that is why the measurements are in LITERS and not in kilos!). Even so, remember that the bigger a backpack is, generally the more space it has and therefore the heavier it weighs.

Therefore we have to be aware of how much weight our body supports so as not to suffer injuries. Normally, the weight of a backpack that a person should carry should never exceed 25% of their own weight and the ideal would be between 15% and 20%. For example, a person who weighs around 60kg should not carry loads greater than 15kg.

The size of the backpack has to fit your torso, and the design must be ergonomic (allowing to regulate the distance between the shoulder pads and the belt).

The size of the backpack is not always proportional to your height. For example, 180cm does not necessarily mean that you should buy a “large” backpack. The size of your torso, and not your height, determines the size of the right backpack for you.

How to measure your torso?

You will need the help of a family member or friend. They must measure the distance between the 7th vertebra (it is the bone that sticks out a little at the back of the neck. Bend your head until your chin touches your chest to make it easier for you to locate it) and the iliac crest (if you place your hands on your hips, with your thumbs on your back and create an imaginary line between your two fingers, the point where they meet is the other point of the measurement). The length of your torso will be the measurement to choose the size of the back of your backpack.

measure your torso

However, since many backpacks do not have “sizes”, the ideal is to buy a backpack with an “adjustable back” system, which will allow you to adapt it to your torso.

An example, for your reference:


Height Torso Approximate height

150 to 165 cm 40-45cm S

160 to 175 cm 45-55cm M

180 to 195 cm 55-62cm L (Unisex)


Height Torso Approximate height

160 to 175 cm 42-50cm S

175 to 190 cm 50-57cm M

180 to 195 cm 55-62cm L (Unisex)

Regarding backpacks and their sizes:

Small backpack: Those that have a capacity between 15 and 30 liters are considered small. In general, these backpacks do not have differentiated sizes.

Medium backpacks: Those with a capacity between 30 and 50 liters are considered medium. Many manufacturers already make them in 3 different sizes: S, M and L and, in some cases, they also differentiate between special backpacks for “men” and “women”. Also, as a plus, many also include a system that regulates the height of the shoulder pads, for a better fit.

Large backpacks: Those that have a capacity of more than 60 liters are considered large. In this case, they also usually come in sizes (S, M and L) and, like the medium ones, they include a system that regulates the height of the shoulder pads.

BELT + LUMBAR SUPPORT of your travel backpack

The belt is the most important part of a backpack since with it we could transmit most of the weight to the waist and legs. In this way you will avoid overloading the back, spine, and neck.

In order for the belt to fulfill its purpose efficiently, it has to hug the sides of your hip correctly and in the back, the lumbar support must be padded and well-located.

Women have a different morphology than men. With this in mind, many manufacturers offer belts adapted to our body, and have created backpacks with designs for shorter torsos, belts adapted to the shape of the female hip, and straps strategically placed so that they do not interfere with the breasts.

Women should wear the belt in a higher position than men. While in men the belt hugs the hips, in women it goes higher and takes advantage of the shape of the waist to support it. Ideally, the belt has to allows us to adjust its size and be designed so that it does not let the backpack slide down.

LUMBAR SUPPORT of your travel backpack


Compression straps: these straps allow you to compact the backpack and bring it closer to the chest, therefore to your center of gravity, preventing it from moving.

Adjustment straps: When going up or down slopes or steep paths, our torso leans forwards or backwards with respect to our axis. Adjustment straps are essential in backpacks with frames. Ideally, these form an angle of 45º in the normal position (on flat ground).

Chest stabilizer: this prevents the straps from going under the arms and allows transferring the “backpack pull” (tendency of the backpack to fall backwards) to the chest area, relieving the shoulders.

Changing the adjustment of the chest stabilizer throughout the day or even releasing it a few times greatly alleviates the discomfort of the upper trunk. Women must pay special attention to this strap and make sure it is not just at the height of the breasts , but above them.


The frame (some bars that can be made of different materials) must be rigid enough to support and transmit the load to the belt.


Large backpacks usually have adjustable back systems that adapt to the length of our torso, but if you choose a backpack with a fixed length, make sure it fits your torso correctly.

Ideally, the back should be padded for comfort and with a good ventilation design. It is not necessary for padding to be too thick or a back to be too separated from our body for ventilation since the load will be kept away from our axis.

How to adjust the height of the back of the backpack? Set the adjustment to the appropriate height and then adjust the backpack. With the belt at the waist, the straps should hug the front of the shoulders and the load straps should be at an angle of approximately 45º.


What should we consider as to the shoulder pads of the travel backpack? We must consider their width, the possibility of regulating them and that they are padded so as not to damage our shoulders.

The shoulder pads are used for stabilizing the load and distributing the weight. The wider the shoulder pads, the less pressure will be on the shoulders and chest, and the more comfortable it will be for us.

Women, due to our morphological characteristics, need different carrying systems, and shoulder pads are no exception. Shoulder pads have to be designed so as not to cause discomfort in the chest and the chest strap must be able to be positioned in a higher area so as not to crush the chest.


Before going out to explore the planet, put on the travel backpack with everything inside and see if you can hold the weight, and adjust the straps. To do this, loosen all the straps (suspenders, belts, load straps).

Put on the backpack: position the belt correctly, tighten the shoulder straps, and adjust the load straps. Now: move, walk, jump, and turn your torso from one side to the other. If the backpack moves, it is not yet well attached to your body.

choose a travel backpack

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