How Much Does A Backpack Weigh? (Detailed Guide)

Packing for a trip can be both a fun and stressful experience, especially when it comes to the weight of your pack. It is easy to overpack due to the fear of leaving behind something useful. If you regularly wonder 'how much should my backpack weigh?', read on to discover helpful tips and advice on getting your backpack's weight right so you can wear it properly and safely.

How Much Does A Backpack Weigh?

How much does a backpack weigh empty? That depends on the type, design, and size of the bag in question. Most backpacks are sized in liters, which describes the total volume that a pack can carry at any given time.

Depending on the amount of material and size, an empty bag can weigh between one and ten pounds. Ten-liter backpacks can weigh less than a pound, 20-liter backpacks can weigh between 10 and 20 ounces, 40-liter backpacks can weigh roughly one and a half pounds, and 70-liter bags can weigh four lbs and so on.

We recommend looking for a pack with a lightweight but sturdy frame – think between 2-4 pounds empty. When filling your backpack, be careful not to fill it more than 20% of your body weight. Overpacking your pack and not wearing it properly can lead to:

  • Changed or damaged posture
  • Strap marks
  • Neck/shoulder/back pain
  • Numb or tingling limbs
  • And more!
How Much Does A Backpack Weigh

How Much Weight Can a Backpack Physically Carry?

As we briefly mentioned above, a backpack's liter measurement lets you know how much weight it can carry at one time. However, just because the bag can take that weight does not mean that you should; no one wants to struggle through a three-day hike.

We recommend packing enough gear to cover your trip without exceeding 20 percent of your body weight. Consider your comfort as well as your physical strength; do you really want to lug 44 pounds through the wilderness? Be mindful of your usual routines, and your trips will be comfortable and smooth.

How Much Should a Backpacker's Backpack Weigh?

Duration of the trip

How long will your trip be? No one packs more than 20 liters for a day trip. The length of time will naturally determine how much gear you bring; the longer your trip, the heavier your backpack will be.

Personal needs

Your preferences regarding gear, food, and clothing will also factor into your backpack's weight.


Consider what the weather is going to be like during your trip. Is it cold and foggy or sunny and warm? Thicker clothing will bring more weight versus lighter summer clothes. 


What items are vital for your trip? How heavy your first aid kit, various tools, and cookware are also factors into your backpack's weight. If you are going for a hunting trip, these things should be considered.


Will you be hiking up mountains or trudging through valleys? The amount of physical exertion you will do increases the amount of food you should bring. It also signals a need to reassess, especially for more hardcore trips.

Weight of empty pack

As small as it may seem, the weight of your empty pack adds just that bit extra alongside all your gear. During rainy seasons also consider that waterproofing your backpack will also add to the overall weight.

Your size and strength

Following the 10-20 percent bodyweight golden rule inevitably controls your backpack's weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should only bring a max of 30 pounds for longer trips and 15 pounds for day trips

How Much Should a Child's School Backpack Weigh?

For children, keeping their backpack's weight at 10 percent or less should minimize the chances of injury or strain to their body over time.

However, that is increasingly difficult to achieve when textbooks are only getting heavier. Make sure to get the right size backpack for your child's age and get one with a waist strap and thick padded shoulder straps if their backpack is often heavier than 10 percent.

Unsure if your child's backpack is too heavy? Watch them as they put it on. If your child:

  • Hunches forward
  • Struggles to put on the bag
  • Complains of neck/shoulder/back pain
  • Complains of tingling or numb limbs
  • Rounds their shoulders
  • Exhibits worse posture in their day-to-day with or without the pack

Then your child's backpack is too heavy and needs to be adjusted. We have tips for reducing the weight below. 

How Much Should A Child's School Backpack Weigh

Tips for Reducing Your Backpack’s Weight

  1. 1
    Know the bag's weight while empty.
  2. 2
    Know the bag's weight while full.
  3. 3
    Know the weight of all your gear.
  4. 4
    Invest in lighter versions of your gear.
  5. 5
    Remove unnecessary items – making a list will help.
  6. 6
    Minimize your first aid kit and other essentials.
  7. 7
    Pack only what you need.
  8. 8
    Plan your meals and snacks.
  9. 9
    Avoid a large and heavy backpack.
  10. 10
    Repack your items to keep the packaging to a minimum.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much does a Jansport backpack weigh?

That depends on the model and size of the backpack. Most backpacks tend to weigh between one and ten pounds when empty.

How heavy is an army backpack?

Military backpacks are designed to carry weapons, gear, and other tools necessary for missions. Most army backpacks weigh between 30 and 60 pounds, depending on the exercise.

Does wearing a heavy bag build muscle?

Wearing a heavy pack causes you to exert more effort on a trip, burning more fat and building muscle. However, don't just pack heavy without thinking – it could lead to injury or exhaustion.


So, how much does a backpack weigh? How heavy one is depends on a variety of factors. Follow our guide above and the 10-20 golden rules for a safe and comfortable journey.

  • Updated November 2, 2021