What kind of bag is best for a weekend hiking trip?

For your next hiking trip or weekend adventure, choose a bag based on capacity and comfort. You want to pack everything you need into luggage that is easy to handle and carry. Look for something durable and tough, giving you confidence that your gear will be ready to go when you reach your destination. This guide will help you think through the size of backpacks and duffel bags, along with some packing tips to make the most of your trip.


What size backpack do I need for travelling? 

The size of the backpack you need for travelling depends on the length of your journey and the range of equipment you’ll need to carry. Daypacks are usually 18-30 litres, while a medium size backpack of 30-50 litres can handle overnight camping trips. For longer expeditions and backpacking look for a capacity larger than 50 litres.

Backpack sizes can be confusing as the capacity in litres may not help you picture what you can actually fit in the bag. A daypack will be able to carry food and water for a day trip, a light jacket, first aid kit and any other small items you need. The 29-litre Borealis Classic Backpack is a great example of a day bag suitable hiking or commuting.

For a weekend away or overnight camping trip, look for something over 30 litres. This size can handle changes of clothing. If you need to carry a tent or head out on a longer trip, you’ll need a capacity over 50 litres. As the size of the bag increases, look for weekend backpack designs with padded shoulder straps and extra support around the hips and chest to help make the extra weight more comfortable to carry.


How to pack a backpack 

To pack a backpack, start by laying out everything in front of you so you can load your bag in an organised way. Pack heavier items at the bottom and think about the items you will need to access frequently, placing these at the top of the bag.



When packing, consider comfort and convenience. For comfort, ensure the weight is balanced to help you maintain your center of gravity, and use soft items to prevent movement of heavier objects as you walk. The items you will need first should be located in a convenient location to avoid digging around in the bottom of the bag. Small objects can fit into external pockets and oversized or odd-shaped items can be clipped or lashed onto the outside.

The style of your backpack will affect how it is packed. Standard backpacks often have multiple compartments, allowing you to separate out your cargo. Roll tops like The North Face Peckham Backpack have access at the top, so think about the order in which items are packed. 

If you need access to the whole bag quickly, then look for a design that can be fully splayed open when unzipped. For enhanced organisation, packing cubes allow the separation of items in a larger bag.


What is a duffel bag used for?

Duffel bags are versatile pieces of luggage used to carry anything from sports kits to camping gear. Duffel bags aren’t rigid, which allows them to adapt to a variety of contents.

For larger bags carrying more weight, consider a wheeled duffel like The North Face Rolling Thunder. Smooth wheels and a quick release, extendable handle allow easy transit of the 80 litre bag which will carry everything you need for a longer vacation.


What size duffel bag can I carry on a plane? 

The average size of a duffel bag to carry on a plane is 22x14x9 inches but this can vary between airlines - check your airline for precise carry-on size dimensions. The advantage of a duffel bag is the flexibility to squeeze it into overhead bins.

Most 40 litre duffel bags should work as a carry on, but the weight also matters so take care when packing. Many airlines allow one carry-on bag plus a personal item, which can be a small bag but must fit under your seat in the plane. If you are planning on carrying a backpack and a duffel bag then one of them must be small enough to fit under your seat.


How do you pack a duffel? 

Keep your duffel bag organised as you pack by grouping similar items together, using smaller objects to fill up gaps and spreading the weight evenly across the bag. Consider the use of packing cubes for quick access, and keep frequently used objects towards the top of the bag.

The lack of rigid structure in a duffel bag is the reason they are so versatile, but avoid the temptation to just stuff everything in there! Create your own structure with the way you pack objects. If your bag is full, it will not be easy to access the bottom so keep anything you need to access quickly towards the opening. 

Try to spread heavy and large items across the bottom of the duffel, using softer materials to fill up the rest of the space. Rolling your clothes can save space and will reduce creasing when the bag is compressed.