In this post we’ll answer a common question we get here at Basecamp - “What size bag do I need?”. There are a whole bunch of factors that can influence what size of pack you might require, but hopefully this guide will help!
What will I use it for?
If you’re doing fast-paced activities, something smaller and more close-fitting might be better for you. Climbers might need a narrow profile to avoid snagging on rocks. Frequent flyers might need something that makes the most of their hand-luggage allowance.
What will I pack?
Whether it’s a pair of trainers for the gym or a week's worth of clothes, try and work out what you’ll normally pack in the bag. Try laying it out on the floor, or stacking it together to give yourself an idea of how bulky it is. Work out what the largest item you’ll carry is. Maybe you’ve got a big laptop? Check the width and height against the dimensions of the bag to make sure it will fit.
How tall am I?
Different bags have different back lengths. Choosing a bag that matches the length of your back will be more comfortable. Aside from that, it’s down to personal preference. Some taller people think they look funny with a tiny bag on their back, while some shorter folk really rock that ‘oversized’ backpack look. Aesthetically, it’s up to you!
Will the bag be used for one specific purpose?
If you’re choosing a bag for a specific task, you can find a size that suits you perfectly. However, if you’re going to use it for all sorts of different things – from commuting to camping – you might want something more versatile. Consider the scalability of the bag. Can you get a bigger bag that will still work (and look good) with next to nothing inside? And will the same pack work when it’s full to the brim?
Talking of which…
Am I prone to overpacking?
You know who you are. Some people travel light, some people fill their bag, no matter how big it is. If you’re on a mission to lighten your load, you might consider buying a slightly smaller pack than normal to force you to be more selective about what you pack. If you’re a hopeless overpacker, don’t worry about it! Find the biggest bag you can carry, and make sure there’s room to lash even more stuff onto the outside!
Once you’ve answered each of these questions, think...
Which Bag Style is Right For Me?
These bags are great for the bare essentials – your valuables, a kindle, maybe a packable waterproof too. For festivals, the Banana is the best choice, but if you’re using it every day, go for the Bairn. It’s a great all-rounder.
Great for: Days Out, Festivals, Sports, Everyday Essentials.
These bags all fit a laptop, and are great for everyday use. You wouldn’t want to go camping with one, but they’ll stow a spare pair of shoes or a change of clothes, no problem!. The Assynt 17 is our bestseller, but we love how minimal the Fingal daypack is!
Great for: Commuting, Urban Exploring, Hiking Daytrips, Everyday Carry.
If you’re a bit of an overpacker, work away a lot, or spend the odd night bivvying on the hill, these bags could be ideal. They’re big enough for your gym kit, a couple of changes of clothes or even your bivy kit. The Assynt 28 is our expedition pack of choice, due to it’s modular design. When it’s empty, the lid pulls right down so it doesn’t look massive, but when we run out of space, we just lash on a Laggan for a bit more room!
Great for: Overnight trips, Hiking, Frequent Flyers.
For frequent flyers, long weekends or long-haul lightweights, these packs are ideal. Most gents could get a weeks worth of clothes in all of these, and a decent 2 man backpacking tent will fit too (or at least could be lashed on outside). We never pack luggage in the hold (no matter how long the trip) so the Storr is our pack of choice here!
Great for: Long Weekends, Week Long Holidays, Camping Trips.