Whether you’re biking across campus or chasing sunrise in the backcountry, the right backpack makes all the difference. Bring everything you need with daypacks, packing cubes, school bags, and backcountry packs from favourite brands like MEC Label, Patagonia, Osprey, Cotopaxi and more.
Streamline your packing system
Accessories like packing cubes and waist packs give you easy access to your most-used items. Wallet and keys? Wear ‘em with a hip pack. Camp toiletries? Pick out packing cubes. Looks like rain? There’s a dry bag for that. Having a system can save you space (and stress) by keeping you organized on-the-go – but knowing how to pack a backpack is half the battle.
How to find your backpack fit?
1. Where are you headed?
That’s the first question when it comes to deciding on the right bag for you. Planning on seeing some viewpoints? Then you’re going to want to start with a daypack with room for a water reservoir or a drink bottle, as well as other hiking essentials. Hostel-hopping through Europe or exploring the Juan de Fuca Trail would call for a bigger pack (think 50–60L) that can haul your essentials. Different activities call for different types and sizes of backpacks.
2. Capacity & size
Once you know what you'll be using your backpack for, you'll want to think about what capacity and size you need. What items will you be carrying, and what capacity and size will those be?
- School/work bags are typically 15-30 litres
- Daypacks are typically 10-25 litres
- Backpacking packs are typically 55-70 litres
- Travel packs are typically 45-75 litres
- Rock climbing packs are typically 30–50 litres
- Mountain biking packs are typically 10-25 litres
- Ski touring packs are typically 35-55 litres
Learn more about what to look for in your bag based on your activities in our article on how to choose and fit a backpack.
Having a properly fitted backpack is essential to feeling comfortable and keeping weight off your shoulders. Ensure the bag has adjustable straps to customize the fit and padding to ensure you're not straining your shoulders or back. When trying backpacks make sure to try them with some weight loaded.
Backpacks have different features for different uses. Consider all the features you need from a bag such as different compartments, hydration bladder reservoirs, external attachment points, trampoline backs and ventilation, easy access pockets, compression straps, load lifters, rain covers, etc.
You want a backpack that lasts so look for elements that will help to promote its longevity like water resistance, reinforced stitching, quality materials and construction and good zippers.
You'll want a lighter backpack for activities where weight matters, like multi-day backpacking. Heavier backpacks can be used for activities where you won't be carrying a heavy load for long distances.