Standard Backpack Size: What Size Do You Need?

When you were in school, you likely didn’t think much about the standard backpack size. You picked whatever you thought was cool, or what everyone else was wearing. When you were younger, you could probably get away with carrying a too-small or too-large backpack. Even though your books were heavy, you were strong, active, and didn’t feel lingering pain. 

But as an adult, your needs are different. You’re more at-risk for creating health issues due to carrying weight incorrectly. Did you know that carrying too much weight can cause you to lean forward more, distorting your back? It can even damage the natural curve of your spine.

Prevent stress on your body by carrying the correct standard backpack size. Follow this backpack guide to get the best size backpack for you.

Standard Backpack Size: What Size Do You Need?

The Backpack Size Chart

We’re not all built the same, so every backpack is going to fit a little differently on each of us. When measuring backpack size, you have to take into account your torso length and hip size. We’ve broken down the averages here:

  • Extra-small backpack size: <40cm torso length and <55cm hip width
  • Small backpack size: 40-44cm torso length and 55-69cm hip width
  • Medium backpack size: 45-49cm torso length and 70-87cm hip width
  • Large backpack size: 50-52cm torso length and 88-100cm hip width
  • Extra-large backpack size: >53 torso length and >101cm hip width

Follow this chart to select the correct standard backpack size. Since sizes are broken down by centimeters, this chart should work for men’s and women’s backpacks.

The Backpack Size Chart

How to Measure Your Torso and Hips

To get the right backpack size, you’ll have to make sure to measure your body correctly. Here’s how to measure your torso length and hip size:

Torso Length

Start at the C7 vertebra or the base of your neck where it connects to your back. Then measure down along the Iliac crest, the base of your hips. Your torso length is that distance in centimeters.

Hip Size

The hip size is pretty easy to measure. Just wrap measuring tape around the widest part of your hips. That length is your hip size.

Standard Backpack Size: What Size Do You Need?

Backpack Volume Explained

Now that you’ve calculated your correct backpack size, there’s one more thing to consider: the purpose of your backpack! Even though backpacks have a standard sizing system, they’re not all created equal. For instance, a school standard backpack size won’t be as functional for you if you need it for hiking or the gym. 

One thing you need to understand about backpack calculations is that volume is different from size. Volume refers to the amount of space available to store things in, whereas size purely refers to the dimensions. Although they’re different, both aspects are important in determining backpack functionality.

Volume is typically measured in liters of space available. You can calculate the volume of a bag by measuring the available capacity in the pockets and other sections of the bag. If you imagine you were to pour water up to the top then dump it out, that would be the correct amount of liters.

But you don’t need to fill every backpack up with water to calculate the volume! If you have the dimensions, you can get the volume from those. All you have to do is multiply all the dimensions. That would give you cubic inches, which you can then convert to liters.

Backpack Volume Explained

Best Backpack Sizes for Every Occasion


How do you know how many liters you need? That depends on what you plan on using the backpack for. The most common backpacks are:

Work Backpack

    The standard backpack size for work require lots of pockets and space for multiple items. That can be a laptop, books, phone, lunchbox, office supplies, and other work items. Work backpacks usually have two big main pockets, cup holders.

    A functional work backpack should have about twenty to thirty-five liters. That should be enough space for someone who carries all their office supplies to and from work.

    Travel Backpack

      Travel backpacks should be a little larger than work backpacks at around thirty-five to forty-five liters. Backpacks made for traveling typically have one main compartment, a laptop sleeve, and maybe a front pocket for easy access to tickets, ID, and wallet. There’s usually just enough room for the “essentials."

      Travel backpacks also need to fit the standard backpack size for airline restrictions and policies while being large enough to carry essentials. This makes it easier to bring one as a carry-on rather than have to check one in.

      Gym Backpack

        Gym backpacks usually have a simple design, as they need to hold gym clothes, work clothes, and workout drinks. There’s usually a main compartment, cup holders, and a front pocket. The standard backpack size for a gym bag is about thirty to thirty-five liters.

        You definitely need to consider the backpack’s purpose before purchasing. Remember that whatever you need it for, you should never carry more than 15% of your body weight.

        Best Backpack Sizes for Every Occasion

        Best Pocket Sizes

        We don’t just love backpacks because they’re easy to carry, although that’s part of it. We love backpacks because they have multiple pockets. Women especially use backpack pockets since women’s clothes don’t have functional pocket space.

        When it comes to the best pocket sizes, you’re basically looking at personal preference. Whatever you feel is important enough to carry around with you is what determines the best pocket sizes. For instance, if you plan on carrying your laptop everywhere you go, the best pocket size is probably the size of a standard laptop sleeve. 

        Here are some ideal pocket sizes for common items you may carry with you:

        • Pens: Fourteen cm by three cm for each pen
        • Passport: Fourteen cm by eleven cm
        • Cosmetics: Sixteen centimeters by eleven cm
        • Mobile Phones: 4.7-5.5 inches
        • Tablets: 9.7 inches-12.9 inches
        • Laptops: 11-15 inches

        Remember, these are all averages. The best pocket sizes will depend on what size your personal items are, and what you like to pack in your backpack.

        Best pocket sizes

        The Best Backpacks

        Luckily for you, we made shopping for the standard backpack size easy. At Tote & Carry, we have some of the most beautiful luxury backpacks on the market. We’ve narrowed down 2 of our most popular backpacks from their fashion and functionality.

        Black Apollo 2 Backpack

          Our Black Apollo 2 Backpack is our best seller! It’s vegan leather with beautiful full-grain snakeskin. The gold zipper accent pops against the sleek black color. It has a padded laptop compartment inside the large main compartment, and its size makes it ideal for traveling in style.

          Red Apollo 1 Backpack

            Our Apollo 1 backpacks are designed a little differently than the Apollo 2. They’re a little sleeker with just as much style. The Red Apollo 1 Backpack is stunning in this gorgeous red color and has a smooth front flap on top of the full-grain snakeskin texture. 

            It also has a laptop compartment, and the under flap pocket has a gold zipper. It’s ideal for travel or even daily wear.

            The Best Backpacks

            Final Thoughts

            Now you know how to find the best backpack for you. A backpack should be appropriate for your size, fit the standard backpack size, and be functional for its purpose. Whether you need a backpack for travel, work, or the gym, the right one is out there! 

            If you’re looking for fashionable travel backpacks in a standard backpack size, Tote & Carry has you covered. Order your stylish fashion-forward backpack today.

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