Why You Should Never Backpack With More Than 13kg

With No More Than 13kg feature


We’ve all see them, backpackers laden down with so many heavy-looking bags you can barely make out the person underneath them all.

And what you do see of them looks hot, sweaty and uncomfortable.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m talking about the backpacker who brought way too much with them … like the ‘kitchen sink’ way too much.

Unfortunately, these over-laden backpackers can be a common site.

Normally spotted at the bus stations, they can look a bit like distraught tortoises with their home on their back, as well as their front, side and possibly the ground around them too!

Because we’ve all been there. We’ve all been on that backpacking trip where we took too much!

For many of us, this happens during our first backpacking experience.

A trip when we are unprepared and over-weighted, uninitiated and over-loaded.

We haven’t got enough experience yet to understand that less is always more when it comes to backpacking; that really the secret to getting the most from your experience overseas is often linked to bringing less of home with you.

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Charlotte Sound

Because it is, right?

Less is always more when it comes to wandering the world.

I’m yet to meet few experienced travellers that disagree with this statement.

In fact, many are avid followers of this age-old mantra.

From my own experience I can certainly tell you I’ve found it to be true.

My number 1 choice when it comes to the best backpack for travelling light? It has to be the Berghaus Freeflow 40l backpack – perfect!

Now, I never embark on a long-term trip with anything bigger than a 45l backpack. In fact, I always favour a 35l if I can – one with expandable pockets, so that I can condense down further if I need, although this rarely happens!

That’s because whatever size bag you have you WILL fill! I don’t know why and I don’t how this happens, but it just always does. So be warned, the bigger the bag you take, the more stuff you will end up carrying.

The best way to keep your bag light is to make it small.

As such, I always try to limit myself from the off by only ever travelling with something equivalent to a large day pack. This is the best way to ensure I don’t travel with too much.

Indeed, I travelled for over 2 years in Latin America with only my 45l bag and loved it! So, trust me it is possible!

Lake Atitlan

And the reason I’m so committed to only travelling with a small bag?

Quite simply because there is nothing more annoying than a large, heavy one.

Whether it’s getting on and off public transport, whether it’s unpacking or re-organising, whether it’s hiking or camping, having a light backpack is crucial to making your life easy and less stressful on the road – it’s less cumbersome, less awkward, less hassle and one less thing to worry about!

I’ve come to realise that 13kg is the absolute maximum weight I want on my back. Anything over this and my bag is well on the road to becoming too heavy and uncomfortable, well on the road to giving me sore shoulders and a sore back!

Anything over 13kg is already too difficult to carry around, too annoying to load in and off buses and too clumsy to fit onto my lap.

In short, anything over 13kg is a big headache!

Sunshine Coast Beach

Also, when I start creeping over 13kg, I’ve realised I start carrying things I don’t need. Luxuries or trinkets that are useless or senseless, clothes I won’t wear, books I won’t read and shoes I don’t need.

Travelling with only 13kg helps me prioritise, helps me realise how little I need and helps me remember what’s important. It keeps me on track and keeps me focused!

Because you want travelling to be simple

You want backpacking to be an experience of freedom, of adventure and of spontaneity.

You can’t very well be spontaneous if you are having to lug a heavy suitcase behind you or if you’re carrying all this stuff you don’t need.

No, you want something that will allow you to grab the adventure when it comes or seize the moment when it calls. You want something you can fling over your shoulders and head off into the sunset when the mood takes you.

Pearl Keys

You want to travel with less than 13kg in your backpack because you want to feel liberated and light, because you don’t want to be weighed down by anything or anyone, because you want to feel free.

And so that, my friends, is why you should never backpack with more than 13kg!



Why You Should Never Backpack With More Than 13kg {Big World Small Pockets}













13 thoughts on “Why You Should Never Backpack With More Than 13kg

  1. Kathryn says:

    Yes! A million times. I have found the exact same thing, that around 12 kg is the optimal weight. My backpack actually doesn’t work with anything over that.

    Maybe if you’re a big, muscly guy you could carry more but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  2. Emily says:

    That’s a great rule of thumb! I’m a “part time traveller” but only ever travel with hand luggage. And if I can survive 2 weeks with hand luggage, then what else is gonna crop up to make me need more stuff?

    • Steph says:

      Hi Dennis, thanks for reaching out. I always highly recommend Berghaus as a backpack brand for travel, also Osprey are very good. Their sizes work on litres, rather than kg – but as a general rule, a 35-40l bag can easily fit 12kg of luggage. Hope that helps 🙂

    • Bobby says:

      I highly recommend the Crux AK37. It’s basically waterproof, incredibly durable, carries well, swallows gear, and weighs less than 3 pounds (the advertised weight is 1040g but it actually weighs in at 1288g). It may not have the frills of other packs but I love mine.

  3. Leonard Groenveld says:

    In the meantime it is 2021 and I find that max 7 kg is enough for a week walking without a tent etc. My Deuter Futura Pro 36 has the perfect size for it.

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