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Is Backpack Sizing Important for Travel?

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Should I worry about the manufacturer’s sizing recommendations when purchasing a backpack for travel?

Unless you are planning on going on long hikes, multi-day treks, or generally wearing the backpack regularly for hours and hours on end, I wouldn’t worry too much about the bags exact sizing. I would recommend trying the backpack on to see how it feels before buying, and take your own analysis of its comfort as being worth more than the manufacturer’s sizing specs. There are some hiking geeks that go nuts about this kind of stuff, but I’ve never worried about it too much and have been fine with my Kelty backpack.

In point, a backpack for travel has different requirements than a backpack for hiking. If you were planning on taking multiple month+ long treks and going on long hikes then I may suggest honoring the manufacturer’s sizing chart and getting a backpack that fits within the range of your body, but for travel — where you are generally just wearing the bag in between public transport and your accommodation — a perfect fit is not necessary. Again, I suggest going into a shop, trying on the backpacks, and if one that you like seems comfortable enough then I would say get it without bothering wasting mental bandwidth on the manufacturer’s sizing specs.

You are correct that the larger size Kelty backpacks probably will not be considered a “carry on” for air travel. I am now using a Lowe Alpine TT Tour backpack, which is probably the best travel backpack I’ve yet used, but it is also a little too big to carry onto an aircraft.

More about Kelty backpacks for travel

Kelty backpack

Complete question about backpack sizing

Wade,

I read an article or so on your website where you talk up the Kelty Redwing 2650. Your opinions are one of the reasons that I chose to get a Ketly Redwing. I was wondering if you could help me with a question.

I’ve never owned a travel-backpack before. My wife and I are constantly on the move, whether I’m traveling for business, or we’re going on road trips. In two months, we’re moving to India. While there, we’ll be able to travel every 3 months or so. We plan on going to Africa, Europe, China, etc. I don’t want to lug around a ton of stuff, so I’m buying a pack. I want one that will qualify as a carry-on on an airplane.

Here’s my problem: the Kelty Redwing 2650 only supports a torso length of 18 inches, but my torso is about 21 inches.

Do you think this is a huge problem? How does the 2650 carry without the hip belt? If I upgrade to the Kelty Redwing 3100 (supports a 21 inch torso) will it be really difficult to carry on an airplane?

I’m asking you because in one of your pictures your pack hangs down on your back, and looks as thought it doesn’t fit your torso perfectly either.

Any advise you can give would be great! Thanks!

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Filed under: Travel Gear, Travel Help

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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