Camping Gear

Ask Me: Should I Buy a Larger Backpack If It’s Not Much Heavier?

Posted On July 26, 2017 at 3:05 am by / Comments Off on Ask Me: Should I Buy a Larger Backpack If It’s Not Much Heavier?

Michael,

I stumbled upon your blog and have enjoyed reading your advice. I am currently deciding between the Gregory Baltoro 75 and 65. I have always had a 65L pack and was looking to upgrade to a new pack this year. When I compared the two packs I found that there was only four ounces difference in weight from the 65L to the 75L. So I am thinking about going to the 75 even though my gear fits in a 65L pack fine. Is there any reason not to go to the larger pack?

Thanks,
Michael
Idaho Falls, ID

Hi Michael,

Good question, and I completely understand your way of thinking about that. I’ve taken the same perspective when considering different volumes in the same pack model, even down to daypacks where models may vary by less than 10 liters. But here’s where I draw the line: I ask myself, will I ever need that extra capacity, or am I just carrying extra weight and bulk because it seems like a good deal?

Gregory Baltoro 75

Gregory Baltoro 75

I recently reviewed the new version of the Gregory Baltoro 75 and women’s Deva 70 at The Big Outside. (I’ve also used previous versions of the Baltoro.) I got the 75L for backpacking with my family when my kids were too small to carry their own share of gear and food; I would fill the 75L pack.

I virtually never carry a 75L pack when backpacking without my kids because I don’t need it. There’s a good reason that companies make 65L, 58L, 50L, and smaller packs: At each step down in size, the pack feels lighter and more streamlined, and that translates to more comfort on the trail.

I find that a difference of 10 liters in volume is noticeably bulkier on my back, and it feels like a bigger pack. Plus, contents may have a greater tendency to shift if you’re never really filling the pack, affecting how well it carries (even though the Baltoro carries very stably). Lastly, having a bigger pack can encourage you to take more stuff than you need.

You should read my “5 Tips For Finding the Right Backpack” and my “Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs.”

 

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today and others. I invite you to get email updates about new stories and gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box in the left sidebar, at the bottom of this post, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

A backpacker on the Highline Trail, Glacier National Park.

A backpacker on the Highline Trail, Glacier National Park.

If you will potentially need that extra capacity on a future trip, then definitely get the 75L pack. If you’re doing it just because it doesn’t seem like much extra weight, even if you don’t expect to ever need it, I would go for the 65L pack. That would also curb the temptation to overpack.

With just four ounces difference between the packs, they probably have identical suspension systems and could handle the same amount of weight. Four ounces likely just represents more fabric for greater volume.

It may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but over my nearly three decades of backpacking, I’ve always strived to figure out how to make my load smaller and lighter, and buying a bigger pack than I need is a step in the wrong direction.

You may also be interested in my tips on ultralight backpacking (which are helpful regardless of whether you’re going “ultralight”), my advice to another reader on how to start lightening up backpacking gear, this previous Ask Me post where I answered another reader’s question comparing different, large backpacks, including the Baltoro, and all of my reviews of backpacks that I like.

I hope that’s helpful. I’d like to hear what you ultimately decide to do.

Best,
Michael

 

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Justin Hayes and daughter, Kellan, backpacking to Crack-in-the-Wall, Coyote Gulch, Utah.

Justin Hayes and daughter, Kellan, backpacking to Crack-in-the-Wall, Coyote Gulch, Utah.

Michael,

That is a great point about going with kids. I have the same situation. I am backpacking with my kids now and am thinking the space may be nice to have for extra gear. Last year was my test year to see how my son would do on some longer trips. Early June, I took him up through Upper Palisades and through Waterfall Canyon for a 20-mile day and he did pretty good. We went through Granite Basin in the Tetons in August and had a great time and various other trips through out the summer. I think I am getting him hooked LOL I am hoping to get him into the White Cloud Mountains in Idaho this summer, but he has never done the Teton Crest Trail, so I think we will do that one first. With the low snowpack we have this year, the backpacking season may start earlier then normal.

Thanks again for the advice. I will let you know what I choose and how it goes.

Michael

Jeff Wilhelm on Gnarl Ridge, along the Timberline Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon.

Jeff Wilhelm on Gnarl Ridge, along the Timberline Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon.

Michael,

Then maybe you should go with the 75L for family backpacking. Hopefully, you can check out both in a store and compare.

I’ve done a lot of hiking, backpacking, and climbing all over the Tetons, including Alaska and Granite basins. Love those mountains. Check out this link. You can also see my stories about Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains and all of my blog’s stories about family backpacking trips.

Good luck, keep in touch.

Michael

 

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