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How Much Weight Can A Backpack Hold?

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Whether you’re planning a backpacking trip or are simply concerned about how heavy your textbooks, laptop, and other personal items are, knowing how much weight a backpack can hold can be helpful.

If you know your backpack’s limitations, you can plan ahead and purchase the backpack that’s the right choice for you.

black backpack sitting on a wooden bench

How much weight can a backpack hold?

Exactly how much weight a backpack can hold depends on several factors, so even if you know how big the backpack is, there’s no real way to know for sure how much it can safely carry.

In general, everyday backpacks can hold between 20 and 40 pounds of weight, but this can change depending on the brand of the backpack and what it’s designed for.

For example, the Bseash 60L waterproof, hiking and camping backpack has a weight capacity of 33 pounds.

If you add too much weight to your backpack, the seams or fabric can eventually give way. Usually, this will happen over time. If you feel that you might be overloading your backpack, it’s a good idea to check for weak areas, areas with worn fabric, tears in the seams, and loose threads.

While these things can all be signs of normal wear and tear, they can also tell you that you’re putting too much weight in your backpack, and you may want to reduce the load.

In general, it’s best to only carry up to 20% of your own body weight. Many professionals recommend that you stick to only 10%.

measuringstuff.com

Using factors such as material, design, size, and construction, you can often estimate how much weight a particular backpack can carry. However, the best way to determine how much weight a backpack can hold is to look at the manufacturer’s information.

Most manufacturers list a weight limit. This is especially common in outdoor backpacks.

Backpacks are also frequently listed with a volume capacity in liters. It’s important to remember that this does not correlate to weight. The volume capacity of the backpack tells you how much stuff will fit inside the backpack, regardless of weight.

The volume of this JanSport Cool backpack is 34 Liters.

It’s also important to think about how you’ll be using your backpack. For example, school backpacks and backpacks that act as purses are really only made to carry items inside their pockets.

Camping backpacks, however, often have many straps and clips that make it easy to hook extra items to the outside or top of the backpack. This can give you more packing options, but each item you attach will add weight.

If you plan to attack heavy items, you’ll also need to make sure that the straps and buckles are durable enough to support the weight.

man walking in the woods with a dog in a backpack

How much weight should I carry in my backpack?

You can estimate how much weight your backpack can hold, but you’ll still need to pack only as much weight as you can physically carry safely.

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Many people don’t realize how quickly the weight of camping supplies can add up, but even though your backpack might be able to hold 90 pounds, it doesn’t mean you can.

In general, it’s best to only carry up to 20% of your own body weight. Many professionals recommend that you stick to only 10%.

According to uihc.org, “Members of the UI Hospitals & Clinics Rehabilitation Services team recommend you carry no more than ten percent of your weight in a backpack. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should carry no more than 15 pounds in a backpack.”

How much you can carry safely will depend on your physical fitness level, the length of your trip, and the terrain you’ll be navigating.

Material

Material is a key factor in how much weight a backpack can hold. Backpacks are designed to be sturdy, as they were originally made to carry outdoor supplies and books, both of which are angular and heavy. For this reason, most backpacks are made of durable nylon, canvas, or cotton.

Some backpacks, particularly those designed for camping or hiking, are made with thicker material that has a denser, stronger weave. This strong fabric may also be waterproof or water resistant, and because it’s so durable, it will be able to support a great deal of weight.

Some camping backpacks, for example, can easily hold 90 pounds or more.

Backpacks that focus on appearance or are made for light use often use lighter fabrics. This helps to keep the weight and bulk of the backpack down, but it does mean that the backpack won’t be able to hold as much.

camping backpacks next to tents at a campsite

Construction

How a backpack is made is just as important as what it’s made out of. Backpacks designed to carry heavier items will have seams stitched with strong, durable thread. More decorative backpacks, on the other hand, might not be constructed as carefully.

When these backpacks are overloaded, they can split along the seams much more quickly.

The straps of decorative backpacks are also usually more narrow and less durable, as they aren’t meant to support a great deal of weight. The straps on school or camping backpacks are wider, and they may have additional buckles that help to more evenly distribute weight.

canvas backpack against a marble wall

Size

How big the backpack is can also usually give you some idea of how much weight it can carry. Bigger backpacks are simply designed to hold more, so it’s expected that they will need to carry more weight.

woman standing next to a highway wearing a large backpack

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